Tadpole Computer

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Tadpole Computer was a manufacturer of rugged, military specification, UNIX workstations, thin client laptops and lightweight servers.

Based in Cupertino, California, Tadpole was acquired by General Dynamics in 2005. Production continued until March 2013 but since then, they no longer sell any systems; and support for their products is provided by Flextronics.


Tadpole laptops were unusual in being based on SPARC, Alpha and PowerPC, rather than the more common x86-based microprocessors. Although very expensive, these classic Tadpoles 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.


The original SPARCbook1[1] was introduced in 1992 with 8–32 MB RAM and a 25 MHz processor. It was followed by several further SPARCbooks, Ultrabooks - and the Voyager IIi. These all ran the SunOS or Solaris operating systems.[2]

DEC Alpha[edit]

An Alpha-based laptop, the ALPHAbook 1, was announced on 4 December 1995 and became available in 1996. The Alphabook 1 was manufactured in Cambridge, England. It used an Alpha 21066A microprocessor specified for a maximum clock frequency of 233 MHz. The laptop used the OpenVMS operating system.[3][4]

IBM PowerPC[edit]

A PowerPC-based laptop was also produced - the IBM RISC System/6000 N40 Notebook Workstation, powered by a 50MHz PowerPC 601 and with between 16 and 64MB RAM - and designed to run IBM AIX. [5]


Tadpole also produced range of x86-based, including the TALIN laptops with SUSE Linux, or optionally Microsoft Windows.[citation needed]

Company history[edit]

In 1998, Tadpole acquired RDI Computer Corporation of Carlsbad, California, who produced the competing Britelite and Powerlite portable SPARC-based systems, for $6 million.

Tadpole was later bought by defense contractor General Dynamics, in 2005.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chronology of Workstation Computers (1991-1992) Archived April 2, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Tadpole SPARCbook 3", computinghistory.org.uk
  3. ^ "Tadpole Technology announces the ALPHAbook 1, the world's most powerful notebook computer". Business Wire. December 3, 1995. Retrieved September 2, 2008. 
  4. ^ HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  5. ^ "IBM RISC System/6000 N40 Notebook Workstation", March 8, 1994, Announcement Number: 194-062
  6. ^ General Dynamics Acquires Tadpole Computer, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2014.