Bill Moggridge passed away on Saturday at the age of 69 due to cancer, and while you may not known his name, you likely know the Briton's iconic work. It's likely you're on it right now. No, not the World Wide Web. Bill Moggridge is the father of the laptop PC.
The laptop you use at work or possibly the one you're surfing on right now wouldn't look like it does without Moggridge's work in the 1980s. He's credited with the design of the first clamshell laptop PC - the 11lb GRiD Compass 1100 in 1982. Moggridge was also one of the founders of the IDEO design group, responsible for the first Apple mouse and the design of the Palm V PDA.
The GRiD Compass 1100 is famous for going up in the space shuttle during missions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as providing some of the first portable PCs to the US Armed Forces. GRiD Systems continued on with other designs like the GriDCase. GRiD patented the clamshell laptop design (with built-in display, keyboard, CPU, and storage), but unlike today's litigious companies, it never enforced the patent. That's one reason why you can go into a shop and buy laptops made by the hundreds of manufacturers that have come and gone in the last 30 years.
After GRiD Systems, Moggridge established his own eponymous design firm as well as ID Two, both of which were merged into the still current IDEO design group in Palo Alto, California. IDEO is responsible for a plethora of designs, many of which you may see everyday, like the tap handle for Sam Adams Boston Lager, the Elmo Calls app for the iPhone, and several chair and workspace designs for Steelcase.
Moggridge left IDEO two years ago to serve as the director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City; one of two Smithsonian museums in New York.