1994… and the birth of the iPad?!

Posted on Friday 15 July 2011

I originally sent this out as an email to my friends, but I’ve done so much research putting this all together… and the thing is so freakin’ amazing that I thought I’d better post it here as well…

Everyone who has looked at the history of Apple – in particular the Mac have learned about how Steve Jobs went to the  Xerox Parc laboratory in Palo Alto California and learned about a piece of hardware called a “mouse” and a user interface that used graphical windows that could be moved, closed, opened, re-sized, etc. Essentially not using a Command Line as everyone was back then with the Apple II and the IBM PC. The result was the Mac….

Here’s a great dramatization showing that event. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u70CgBr-OI from a movie I really love… “Pirates of Silicon Valley.”

Here’s an actual news expose, which shows almost the same thing…. www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYkZUu9MUxs&feature=related

Steve Jobs loves to quote Picaso, who said: “Good artists copy, Great artists steal….”

Both of the above sort of infers that Apple might have stolen the idea, but in reality, according to Marc Bernstein (currently in charge of Xerox Parc) Apple shares were exchanged in return for the visit and demonstration…. and the rest, as they say, is legend and history.

Well I was reading one of my ZDNET news feeds today, about how the newspapers or news in “Print” is being slowly transitioned over to tablets and in doing so, may still live on. One of the amazing things, that I had not seen before (that I can recall – some of the people in the video look eerily familiar ) was an effort by the Knight-Ridder News organization to try and visualize what and where the future of newspapers were going.

In 1994, note the year, they put together a video simulating how people could use a piece of technology that they called The Tablet and showed what it might look and work like…. The similarities are beyond stunning!

I had a tablet computer some time around that time. It actually was a combination book/tablet in that the keyboard could be removed and just the tablet part could be used with a pen. I think it was called the Concerto.

It was no where near as thin or light and weighed a ton! It also wasn’t color! Nor was it any where near as capable as what is shown in the concept video (ie this technology didn’t exist back then, the functionality that you see is completely simulated).

There is no doubt in my mind that this was in fact the birth of the Apple iPad…. some 16 years earlier. Watch the video, it’s 13 minutes long (worth every second) and be amazed…..

What I find particularly sad, is that Knight-Ridder was bought by The McLatchy Company in 2006 and was absorbed/disappeared. Somewhere, either before, or after that time. The tablet vision seems to have been lost by them. If you take a look at their website news site: www.mcclatchydc.com you will see something very similar to what was envisioned in 1994, but it is essentially a web page like every other web site. That being said, they were still way ahead of the pack, as the World Wide Web/Internet Browsing didn’t really exist back then – so I give them some points for at least seeing and delivering some future… But as for Tablet Newspapers….. what a pity…

They actually made an iPhone App, but it is pretty boring, it looks like it was designed for the original iPhone. It is just a list of news articles that one can click on to read, how sad that somewhere along the road, that after all that effort and research their vision and dream was lost. What an advantage they might have had…. similar to Xerox actually. Funny that….

Still I have to thank them for coming up with the idea, and I am sure Steve is too…..




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