My father takes a thin briefcase-like bag from EastPak (made of rough Nylon) when he goes to meetings. The bag must be at least 15-20 years old, so it definitely predates "the laptop era". It sat around in a box for years until I recently dug it out, cleaned it up, and told him he should use this for his meetings. It works perfectly for him.
The bag recalls a simpler time when people did not carry computers, other electronic gadgets and cables and accessories with them for business. It is a thin, fairly lightweight (for that era) one-main-compartment briefcase built for carrying papers and writing utensils, maybe a calendar and a small calculator. In essence, it's like you turned a Horizontal Freudian Slip inside-out and made it into its own self-contained mini-briefcase.
Why doesn't anyone make anything like this anymore? Does everything have to rotate around bulky electronics?
I would love to see what Tom Bihn would do to create what I call a Paper Chase: a small briefcase made for paper-hauling but not laptop-hauling. It would be sized and built to haul file folders and/or a Horizontal Freudian Slip like the Zephyr, but be slimmer and lighter. Think of it as having a mixture of characteristics derived from the Co-Pilot and Large Cafe Bag, as well as the Zephyr and/or ID. It would look more like a briefcase, but be lighter and thinner. It could have an outer shell made of 1080 nylon or maybe even Dyneema. It might even have a webbing grab-handle on top and hooks for a shoulder strap.
I wish Tom Bihn would make a mini-briefcase like that.