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

Tadpole Computer
Founded1994; 30 years ago (1994)
FateAcquired by General Dynamics
United States
ProductsLaptops, servers, workstations



Tadpole was founded in 1994[1] and originally based in Cambridge, England, then for a time in Cupertino, California.[2]

In 1998, Tadpole acquired RDI Computer Corporation of Carlsbad, California,[3] who produced the competing Britelite and Powerlite portable SPARC-based systems, for $6 million.[4]

Tadpole was later acquired by defense contractor General Dynamics, in April 2005.[5]

Production continued until March 2013 but since then, they no longer sell any systems; and support for their products is provided by Flextronics.

An anonymous US intelligence officer had stated to Reuters in 2013 that a decade earlier the US secretly created a company reselling laptops from Tadpole Computer to Asian governments. The reseller added secret software that allowed intelligence analysts to access the machines remotely.[6]



Tadpole laptops used a variety of architectures, such as SPARC, Alpha, PowerPC and x86.[1] 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.[citation needed]


SPARCbook 3 in Computer History Museum

The original SPARCbook 1[7] was introduced in 1992 with 8–32 MB RAM and a 25 MHz processor.[8][9] It was followed by several further SPARCbooks, UltraSPARCbooks (branded as Ultrabooks) - and the Voyager IIi.[10][11] These all ran the SunOS or Solaris operating systems.[12][13][14][15] In 2004, Tadpole released the Viper laptop.[16]

The SPARCLE was based on a 500-600 MHz UltraSPARC IIe or 1 GHz UltraSPARC IIIi.[17]

DEC Alpha

Demo of the Tadpole ALPHAbook 1 at VMworld 2011

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.[18][19]



A PowerPC-based laptop was also produced - the IBM RISC System/6000 N40 Notebook Workstation, powered by a 50 MHz PowerPC 601 and with between 16 and 64MB RAM - and designed to run IBM AIX.[20][21]

Tadpole also produced a range of x86-based notebook computers, including the Tadpole P1000, and the TALIN laptops with SUSE Linux, or optionally Microsoft Windows.[22]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Tadpole Eyes Athlon 64, Multiprocessor Sparc Notebooks - ExtremeTech". www.extremetech.com. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  2. ^ "Tadpole Launches Sleek UltraSPARC® Technology Powered Notebook". 2003-02-18. Archived from the original on 2003-02-18. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  3. ^ "Tadpole Technology: Industry news" (PDF). 2020-04-20. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-04-20. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  4. ^ "Tadpole Technology purchases major competitor RDI Computer Corporation - SunWorld - August 1998". sunsite.uakom.sk. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  5. ^ "Form 10-K, General Dynamics Corporation". www.sec.gov. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  6. ^ "Strong ties bind spy agencies and Silicon Valley". Reuters. 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2020-04-20.
  7. ^ Chronology of Workstation Computers (1991-1992) Archived April 2, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Sub-$6,000 Sparc Notebook Announced, By Martin Marshall, InfoWorld, 27 May 1991, Page 32
  9. ^ Advert: Meet the Notebook that Breaks the Mold: SPARCbook 1: Tadpole, Computerworld, 23 Mar 1992, Page 37
  10. ^ Tadpole release Sparc notebooks, By Yvonne L. Lee, InfoWorld, 21 Feb 1994, Page 33, ...The $10,950 SparcBook 3....The $7,500 SparcBook 3LC...
  11. ^ SPARC notebook manufacturer promises desktop performance, by Michael Fitzgerald, Computerworld, 28 Feb 1994, Page 41, ...Tadpole Technology Inc. in Austin, Texas, announced its third SPARC notebook....The $10,950 SPARCbook 3 uses Texas insstruments, Inc.'s 50-MHz MicroSPARC processor...
  12. ^ "Tadpole SPARCbook 3", computinghistory.org.uk
  13. ^ SPARCbook 3000ST - The coolest 90s laptop, March 14, 2019, adafruit.com
  14. ^ Table 11-1: Identifying Different SPARC CPUs, Page 256, Sun Performance and Tuning: Java and the Internet, By Adrian Cockcroft, Richard Pettit, Sun Microsystems, ...System(Kernel Architecture): Tadpole SPARCbook 1 (sun4m) / CPU Mhz: 25 / CPU Type: Cypress 601...System(Kernel Architecture): Tadpole SPARCbook 2 (sun4m) / CPU Mhz: 40 / CPU Type: Fujitsu MB86903...System(Kernel Architecture): Tadpole SPARCbook 3 (sun4m) / CPU Mhz: 85-110 / CPU Type: microSPARC II...
  15. ^ Sparc-based notebook ready to debut: Tadpole system uses Cypress processor, runs Solaris operating system, By Cate Corcoran, InfoWorld Dec 28, 1992 - Jan 4, 1993, Page 23
  16. ^ "Tadpole leaps to Sparc portable workstation". CNET. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  17. ^ "Tadpole". 2004-06-04. Archived from the original on 2004-06-04. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  18. ^ "Tadpole Technology announces the ALPHAbook 1, the world's most powerful notebook computer". Business Wire. December 3, 1995. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  19. ^ HP OpenVMS Systems Documentation Retrieved September 15, 2011.
  20. ^ "IBM RISC System/6000 N40 Notebook Workstation", March 8, 1994, Announcement Number: 194-062
  21. ^ "RS/6000 Notebook 860" (PDF).
  22. ^ Tadpole boosts power in Pentium-, Sparc-based notebooks, By Yvonne L. Lee, InfoWorld, 24 Jul 1995, Page 45, ...The two new notebooks, shipping now, include the SparcBook 3GX...and the Tadpole P1300, the first 133-MHz Pentium-based notebook...A Pentium notebook with 8MB of RAM and a 340MB hard disk cost $6,995...