Tadpole Computer was a manufacturer of rugged (military specification) UNIX workstations, thin client laptops and lightweight servers. Tadpole was based in Cupertino, California. Tadpole was acquired by General Dynamics in 2005 and production continued until March 2013. Since then, they no longer sell any system and support for their products is provided by Flextronics.
Tadpole laptops used either SPARC- or x86-based microprocessors. The SPARC-based SPARCbook laptops were sold with the Solaris operating systems, and their x86-based laptops with SUSE Linux. Microsoft Windows is optional.
An Alpha-based laptop, the ALPHAbook 1, was announced on 4 December 1995 and became available in 1996. It used an Alpha 21066A microprocessor specified for a maximum clock frequency of 233 MHz. The microprocessor was capable of throttling its clock frequency to reduce power consumption and heat. It was accompanied by a 512 KB B-cache (L2 cache). The ALPHAbook 1 has 1 MB of VRAM and a 10.4-inch TFT screen, network and modem connectivity, and is capable of displaying 256 colors from 262,144 at a resolution of 800 × 600 with the TFT screen and 1024 × 768 on external displays. The laptop used the OpenVMS operating system. The ALPHABOOK 1 1.2 Gb disk drive was IDE, linked with an IDE-SCSI2 adapter; this is because 2.5-inch SCSI drives did not exist at that time. A fully working Alphabook One was displayed at the recent VMworld 2011 conference, to the amazement of some, and surprise of many of the older attendees. The Alphabook 1 was manufactured in Cambridge, England. During the early 1990s, a PowerPC-based laptop was also produced. The classic Tadpoles were designed for SPARC, PA-RISC, DEC ALPHA and POWER (AIX). They are even now, reassuringly expensive (see: eBay history), and won favour as a method to show corporation's proprietary software (IBM/HP/DEC) on a self-contained portable device on a client site in the days before remote connectivity and ports to a Linux x86 operating system. The demonstrator would also bring along a portable SCSI tower of disks (e.g. BA356) on which the proprietary software would be loaded.
If looking to use an Alphabook 1 today, only the original and exact 3com PC Card network peripheral will be recognised by the OpenVMS operating system. Although OpenVMS 7.2-1 was the last 'officially' supported OpenVMS version, the Alphabook 1 does run 7.2-1.
In 1998, Tadpole acquired RDI Computer Corporation of Carlsbad, California for $6 million.