What Is a Satellite Laptop?

By Paul Christian Nelis

Though the name may conjure images of extra-terrestrial communications, Satellite notebooks are much more down-to-earth. Of the tens of thousands of computer models Toshiba has released, the Satellite notebook computer is a truly enduring line.


Toshiba introduced it's first Satellite notebook computer, the Satellite 100CS, back in 1995. This product shipped with Windows 3.11, DOS 6.22, or the the newly released Windows 95 operating systems. It shipped with 8MB of RAM and a 75 megahertz Intel Pentium processor. The maximum display resolution available on this model was 1024 x 768, and in this resolution, it could display no more than 256 different colors. At the time, however, this represented significant capability in a laptop computer weighing less than seven pounds.


Toshiba still maintains support for this first Satellite notebook on its website, Toshiba.com. Drivers that date back to 1998 are available for patching operating systems, BIOS and even Toshiba utilities relevant to this model. User's guides, resource guides and technical specifications are also available, though it has become difficult to find the types of peripherals used in these 1990s notebook computers.

Toshiba Satellites In the News

On July 23, 2002, a class-action lawsuit was filed in California over a situation with the Satellite 1800 model line. With 1.1 GHz processor, these models risked overheating when run at their top speed. Toshiba released a BIOS upgrade that effectively throttled the processor's capacity to prevent the overheating issue. Some users noticed, however, that this also impeded the system's ability to perform some of the more complex graphics-related functions advertised. A website was ultimately developed for information related to the suit: http://www.satellite1800settlement.com.

Satellite Notebooks in 2009

Toshiba has continued this line of computers into 2009, with their basic offering available with a 17" screen of 1440 x 900 resolution, 4GB of memory and a Pentium dual-core processor--literally more than twice the processor capacity of the Satellite 100CS. Beyond such basics, a contemporary Satellite model is likely to have a built-in webcam and Wi-Fi, which were unheard-of in 1995. The Satellite Pro line from Toshiba is aimed at users with more demanding hardware needs. Satellite systems have kept pace with emerging operating system trends as well with systems running Windows XP and Windows Vista--the latest in a long line of successors to Windows 95.


Because this has been a long-lived line of notebooks, there are many peripherals available for Toshiba Satellite systems. Though new parts availability should be assumed for any contemporary notebook computer, a simply Internet search will also reveal available parts for the original Toshiba Satellite 100CS. Main batteries, CMOS batteries and other peripherals are still available for the entire line of Satellite notebook computers.