Intel’s Ultrabook: Re-Invention Or Red Herring?

The Ultrabook. Funny name. Funny idea. The Ultrabook, a thin notebook, is part of what Intel CEO Paul Otellini calls its mission to ‘re-invent the PC’.

“With what has happened in the tablet space, there is a ‘hurry-up’ to the PC industry,” says Intel’s erstwhile marketing supremo, now Chairman of China, Sean Maloney.

But the ‘tablet space’ is becoming the PC industry. Hurrying up PCs may be irrelevant.


When the transistor was invented the then Soviet Union set to miniaturising vacuum tubes to meet the challenge.


Soviet scientists became very good a miniaturising vacuum tubes, but they failed to appreciate that, in effect, transistors were the new vacuum tubes.


So with tablets. Intel thinks thinner notebooks are the new tablets, when consumers think that tablets are the new notebooks.


Between 2009-14, unit shipments of tablets are expected to grow 190%, notebooks to grow 15% and netbooks to fall 17% says IC Insights.


Ultrabook is not a new idea, or even Intel’s idea – the MacBook Air was the original for thin notebooks.



  1. I guess miniature vacuum tubes are more resilient against a Nuclear EMP?
    I remember a story (could be an urban myth though) that a pilot landed a Mig 25 in the west somewhere, and when the Nato people took it to pieces they found the avionics were all vacuum tubes. Embarrassingly of course this plane was faster than anything the west had at the time, and certainly would have been after a nuclear EMP!

  2. Yes indeed, Dr Bob, if you send them to me at I’ll post them on Mannerisms. I’ll title the post: ‘Dr Bob’s Miniature Vacuum Tubes” so people can find it – unless you have a different suggestion

  3. I suppose I could take a couple and pass them on via David if he is amenable to that.
    By ‘youngsters’ I did not mean grandchildren but the wet behind the ears know-it-all graduates!

  4. Dr. Bob, do you have any photos? I would love to show them to my grandchildren. I could tell them that their grandfather used to work with the larger version and it would reinforce their concept that I am a dinosaur!

  5. That’s cool, Dr Bob, or at least I hope so

  6. When it comes to miniature valves I have one in my draw to amaze the youngsters measuring 25mm long by 5mm diameter. I usually ask them to guess what it is. Never had a correct answer yet!

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