Founded in November 1981 as Kensington Microware, Kensington entered the market at the very beginning of the emergence of the personal computer. Both the IBM PC, the first-generation personal computer, and Osborne 1, the first mobile computer, had launched just months earlier. Those early personal computers operated from floppy disks and random-access memory (RAM) and, of course, there was no internet.
In the 40 years since the launch of the company, Kensington has received more than 200 patents and has played an integral part in the exciting evolution of computing technologies from personal desktop computers to laptop computers to tablets and pocket-sized mobile devices. Since the company’s acquisition by ACCO Brands in April 1986, several brands have been merged into Kensington adding valuable expertise and intellectual property in areas including ergonomics (Silicon Sports in 1995), cleaning (Statx in 1995) and gaming (Gravis in 1996). The company now employs 150 people worldwide.
So how does a technology company stay relevant and maintain market leadership in a world in which technology, and the ways in which people use it, change so drastically and rapidly? In Kensington’s case, the answer is INNOVATION.
Power to the PC!
Working closely with Apple, which responded to the launch of the IBM PC with the release of the Apple IIe, Kensington released its first product, System Saver™, in 1982. System Saver was an innovative solution that added a cooling fan and surge protection to the Apple IIe. In 1984, Kensington followed up on the success of System Saver with its first product for the PC, the MasterPiece™ Power Center.
As the popularity of personal computing skyrocketed and accessories such as speakers, printers, and high-capacity storage devices became necessary additions to desktops, another challenge quickly emerged – power bricks. Kensington solved the challenge of providing power and surge protection for multiple power bricks with the launch of Smart Sockets® in 1997. This innovative design, which was named “Design of the Decade” by Business Week, enabled the plug-in of multiple power bricks without overlapping power outlets.
Trackballs – Kensington’s Enduring Legacy
Popular for their precision and ease-of-use, trackballs have been used in various industry applications since the late 1940s. When personal computers entered the home in the 1980s, however, many consumers were introduced to the trackball with the Kensington Turbo Mouse® for Macintosh in 1986, and Expert Mouse® for PCs in 1989. Kensington’s trackballs have continued to evolve over the years with the addition of thumb trackballs and ergonomic designs that make the products ideal input devices for a variety of creative industries and among disabled users.
In addition to the evolution of its industry-leading trackball line, Kensington’s WebRacer Internet Mouse for PC addressed the need to provide a more seamless input experience for using the internet. Released in 1998 and dubbed the “mega mouse” by the technology media, WebRacer dedicated a button to common web-browsing functions, making it quicker and more efficient to browse the internet.
Setting The Standard for Security
The Kensington lock slot is the industry standard for enabling the use of cable locks to prevent the theft of a wide variety of portable devices. The establishment of Kensington as a leader in device security began with the development of the first laptop lock in 1992. Since the launch of the MicroSaver® Lock and Kensington Security Slot™, Kensington has sold more than 38 million security locks and its “slots” have been built into most laptops, projectors, monitors, and printers sold worldwide.
FUN FACT: Kensington has sold more than 228 million feet of locks – enough to stretch more than 1.25 times around the Earth’s equator!
In 2018, Kensington expanded from physical device security to data protection with the launch of the innovative VeriMark™ Fingerprint Key. VeriMark supports Windows Hello™ providing users with simple, fast and secure Windows logon and a seamless two-factor authentication experience. The expanding portfolio of VeriMark products provide unprecedented cybersecurity for a cloud-based world.
Enhancing The Functionality and Usability Of World-Class Devices
As it has done throughout the past four decades, Kensington’s docking station products have been designed with a focus on improving the usability of computers, laptops and mobile devices. In doing so, these innovative products have fundamentally changed the way in which users interface with their devices, resulting in increased productivity, comfort and overall usability.
In partnership with Microsoft, Kensington launched the SD7000 Surface Pro Docking Station in 2018. This first-of-its-kind solution enabled users to turn a Surface Pro into a mini Surface Studio with the ability to connect a variety of accessories including a keyboard, USB storage and an external monitor. The SD7000 continues to receive praise for its innovative and functional design.
At CES 2021, the announcement of Kensington’s StudioDock™ iPad Docking Station took the show by storm with its selection as a 2021 CES Innovation Award Honoree and the receipt of eight Best of CES 2021 awards. StudioDock fundamentally changed the way in which the Apple iPad could be used by adding full docking functionality to connect USB devices, an external monitor, and more, while also providing wireless charging for the entire Apple ecosystem.
Over the years, Kensington’s connectivity solutions have evolved and advanced with technology to ensure that users experience the full capabilities and speeds delivered by the latest technologies. In 2020, Kensington partnered with Intel to launch the SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Dual 4K Docking Station, the industry’s first fully-powered Thunderbolt 4 docking station. The launch of the SD5700T provided the only docking solution available to maximize the performance of the newest Thunderbolt 4-enabled laptops.
Looking Ahead – The Only Certainty is Change, and Change Is Good!
So how does Kensington stay relevant and maintain market leadership the next 40 years in a world in which technology, and the ways in which people use it, will most assuredly continue to change? By doing what we’ve been doing the last 40 – keeping an eye on the future to anticipate the changing demands and requirements of the workforce while listening intently to the needs and desires of our customers.
In the computer technology industry today, very few products can truly be considered “innovative.” However, Kensington’s focus on the needs of the user and the drive to develop accessories that fundamentally change the way in which world-class devices such as laptops and tablets are used, with the purpose of increasing productivity and usability, has resulted in many innovative products throughout its 40-year history. As new devices emerge and the ways in which people use them continue to evolve, Kensington will continue to evolve and innovate to anticipate and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.