Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Jan 2010 15:54 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems In an article about the supposed upcoming Apple tablet, Paul Thorrot made a jab at the hype that has developed, arguing that Microsoft was first with its tablet PC initiative in the early 2000s. Daring Fireball's John Gruber disagrees with Thurrot, and claims that Apple's Newton was the first tablet. In rushing to defend their pet companies, I say both are wrong. Apple nor Microsoft have anything to do with the conceptualisation or realisation of the tablet computer.
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Too much storage
by elmimmo on Fri 15th Jan 2010 16:25 UTC
elmimmo
Member since:
2005-09-17

120MB of storage? In 1989? On a portable-ish device? At that time that was not "rather impressive", that was science-fiction. There must be a mistake in that.

Edit: 20MB of RAM!!! My PC of the era (or was it 90 or 91-ish when dad bought it…?) had 2MB. Someone explain to me what I am missing.

Edited 2010-01-15 16:34 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Too much storage
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 15th Jan 2010 16:39 UTC in reply to "Too much storage"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Exactly - the specifications are a bit of a grey area there. Maybe one of our readers have experience with the GRiDpad?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Too much storage
by memson on Fri 15th Jan 2010 17:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Too much storage"
memson Member since:
2006-01-01

This link seems to be more realistic, bet really, who knows:

http://www.sinasohn.com/cgi-bin/clascomp/bldhtm.pl?computer=grid191...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Too much storage
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 15th Jan 2010 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Too much storage"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Ach! I had a friend that had the gridpad, for the life of me, I can't remember the specs. Maybe it will come after lunch.

I do have a 286 grid laptop with 2mb ram, that cannot run linux, despite my best efforts with elks.

http://elks.sourceforge.net/

Reply Score: 2

I saw the first tablet in Star Trek TOS.
by axilmar on Fri 15th Jan 2010 17:00 UTC
axilmar
Member since:
2006-03-20

Of course, it was a wooden one, but it came complete with a stylus.

The tablets were better shown in TNG.

Reply Score: 2

Only disagree with one word
by fretinator on Fri 15th Jan 2010 17:20 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft and Apple don't ask questions; they merely answer them


I disagree with the use of merely. Think of the MP3 player. People think Apple invented it. Nope! There were many players - the RIO comes to mind. But, Apple made them cool, easy to use. One of the reasons my son went back to Windows from Linux was the seamless syncing of iTunes. He wanted to just connect his device and click "fill", not manually drag and drop stuff.

Anyhoo, I think all of these are important:

Innovator - comes up with an idea

Implementer - creates a working version of the idea, perhaps brings to market

Perfector - the one who runs with thing and brings it to the masses.

All are useful functions. Unfortunately, usually only the last one gets rich, unless one of the other two sues!

Reply Score: 4

RE: Only disagree with one word
by chikahiro on Fri 15th Jan 2010 23:46 UTC in reply to "Only disagree with one word"
chikahiro Member since:
2009-10-15

I completely agree. Innovation/implementation is great but quite risky. I can think of a good number of innovative things that were actually implemented but failed. I can think of some polished things that basically came to market after a lot of the hard work, trial and error, were done and exploded (getting more credit than they deserved for it). We all can.

Its nice to read about the innovators and implementors. Nice to know who we "owe" for what we're enjoying today and will enjoy in the future.

I would like to add one more thing (and forgive me if I fumble this): the Derivers. After all, how many different implementations of any given type of application are out there? Nice, polished, but not the first? Regardless of its some company trying to do their own take on a particular product or an open source project to make something, they're putting their own spin on an existing, polished, product. I use a bit of open source stuff that is not innovative in the least (save its OSS :p) but honestly I don't care. Its good, its polished, and it lets me do what I want to without grossly overspending for my needs! ;)

There's a place for all these things, and I think we're better off for it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Only disagree with one word
by mckill on Sat 16th Jan 2010 04:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Only disagree with one word"
mckill Member since:
2007-06-12

with the iPod, Apple just didn't make a 'stylish' product, lets ignore the wheel and how unique it was and an actual LCD screen with an interface (the previous Rios just had forward/next/etc buttons), but the iPod had a real nice 5GB 1.8" HD which nobody else on the market even used.

Reply Score: 2

Thom... good article.
by Tuishimi on Fri 15th Jan 2010 17:45 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

Thanks for this. I enjoyed reading the article and will look into this more.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Thom... good article.
by fatjoe on Fri 15th Jan 2010 20:06 UTC in reply to "Thom... good article."
fatjoe Member since:
2010-01-12

A very good article indeed!

Thank you very much Thom. I only wish more sites could publish such high quality articles.

[I am looking at you, clueless Nokia-hating blog-monkeys at E********]

Edited 2010-01-15 20:08 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Alan Kay is an Apple Fellow
by csixty4 on Fri 15th Jan 2010 18:04 UTC
csixty4
Member since:
2007-10-08

Your timing is amazing. When I woke up this morning, in that weird state between asleep and awake, I realized that Alan Kay's Dynabook was a tablet PC in a way. And Steve Jobs convinced Kay to come work for Apple as an advisor, becoming an Apple Fellow at one point.

This "MacDynaBook" has been a long time coming.

Reply Score: 1

Apples mystery product
by John Bayko on Fri 15th Jan 2010 18:32 UTC
John Bayko
Member since:
2006-10-20

I might as well write it down somewhere...

I think Apples' mystery product will be completely unexpected: a digital picture frame.

Well, not an ordinary one. I looked at them a year ago, and the user interfaces all, completely and without exception, suck. Some suck more than others, but compared to the user interface of a non-digital picture frame (insert picture, put on table, look, enjoy), they are all crap.

Much like the original MP3 players, actually.

This kind of explains the size rumours - some say Apple will introduce a 7 inch, some say 10 inch tablet. Those are nice picture frame sizes, but useless for a portable media player (too big for a pocket purse) and for a computer (fully functional, general purpose tablet computers themselves are impractically bad ideas, at least with forseeable software).

Of course, it would be more than a picture frame. A usage scenario would go like this: You get one, network it to your Mac/PC (running iTunes or iPhoto), and set it on your kitchen table, where it displays pictures you can select with the touch screen, or the time/day/iCal appointments and pictures on the side, etc. Say you sit down for breakfast, you can grab it out of the cradle (plugged into the wall to recharge it, like a portable phone) and touch it to open up the morning paper, or news web site, or streaming/podcast news from iTunes. Eat and enjoy. Put it back in the cradle when done.

Say it's the weekend, you want to sit ouside and read a book. Pick up the "iSlate" and a cup of coffee and touch up a book you bought. Go back inside when it reminds you of an appointment - or maybe it's integrated with your home phone (maybe just notify you, or maybe it has a speakerphone capability).

It's "portable", but not meant to actually ever leave your house, so it doesn't matter that it has a power-sucking LCD display, compared to the powerless "e-paper" displays of e-book readers.

Etc. A very Apple-like, convenient product that nobody seems to realize that is missing from their lives. But it has a market of millions.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Apples mystery product
by elmimmo on Sat 16th Jan 2010 08:58 UTC in reply to "Apples mystery product"
elmimmo Member since:
2005-09-17

> A very Apple-like, convenient product that nobody seems to realize that is missing from their lives. But it has a market of millions.

Slow down. Steve Jobs has blown it before: Not everybody thought they could not live without an iCube or iPod Hi-Fi.

Like you hinted, we are more in love with "falling in love with the gadget" than actually the gadget itself.

The hype is high because many people think Apple can convince us of wanting to use something we still do not know what we would want for. They still have to pull that off.

Reply Score: 1

Dynabook design
by matako on Fri 15th Jan 2010 20:41 UTC
matako
Member since:
2009-02-13

What impresses me the most about the Dynabook is its timeless design. The compact package and dimensions (screen and keyboard) would be considered a solid piece of industrial design just about anytime since Mr. Kay introduced the concept circa 1970.

I would actually love to see a device of the exact appearance implemented with the today's technology With a right mix of hardware (nothing over-the-top) and battery autonomy it could be a winner.

Now the software is of course another matter. The idea of a fully customisable, totally transparent user interface and programming environment in one looks a bit hard to achieve with today operating systems. It reminds me more of the home computers of the 1980s - instant power-on and ready to accept commands. That would be probably the hardest nut to crack. Other than that this could as well be the "proper" OLPC ;)

Edited 2010-01-15 20:43 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Concept in SF
by Earl Colby pottinger on Fri 15th Jan 2010 21:54 UTC
Earl Colby pottinger
Member since:
2005-07-06

In terms to people thinking of it first, I believe the idea showed up years if not decades before in SF.

Since I don't have the books here I can't check right now, but what about the calculator used in 'Foundation' or the MiniSec in Clarke's 'TriCentenuary' (spelling wrong)

Reply Score: 2

doesn't matter who was first
by poundsmack on Fri 15th Jan 2010 22:48 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

it doesn't matter who was first, neither one took off because the infrastructure and the content didn't exist in a way though would be truly beneficial for mass production and consumer demand.

Its a lot like Sega. The Saturn and the Dreamcast were wayyyyy ahead of their time as far as features and usability. the Sega Saturn could hook up to the internet and that was in 1995!

the world is ready now though, and it will catch on in a big way. no sense in playing the "i was first into a market sector that didn't take off when i was first" game. a better game would be "I am going to make the best damn tablet you've ever seen" game and release them in 2010.

Reply Score: 3

RE: doesn't matter who was first
by elmimmo on Sat 16th Jan 2010 09:05 UTC in reply to "doesn't matter who was first"
elmimmo Member since:
2005-09-17

> The Saturn and the Dreamcast were wayyyyy ahead of their time as far as features and usability.

Dreamcast, ok. Saturn, no man. Hardware-wise, Sony embarrased the heck out of Sega on launch day.

Reply Score: 1

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Wasn't the problem with the Saturn that it was hard to program? With the 4-meg RAM cartridge you could play X-men Vs. Street Fighter with the tag-team feature intact, unlike the PS version.

Reply Score: 2

smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

Dreamcast, ok. Saturn, no man. Hardware-wise, Sony embarrased the heck out of Sega on launch day.


the saturn was hard to develope for because of the many processors in it (iirc 2 cpu, 2 gpu, 1 sound)
but still it was the more advenced console of the time (the shenmue video is realy impressive)

but it's funny how sony with their ps2/3 ran into the same problem as sega: gamedevelopers can't handle more than 1 cpu

Reply Score: 2

As for products...
by tomcat on Sat 16th Jan 2010 00:42 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

... there's just no way you can compare the Apple Newton and the Tablet PC as if they were equals. The Newton was a glorified message taker. That's it. The Tablet PC is a full-blown operating system with the ability to run thousands of apps, connect peripherals, project presentations, etc. So, really, arguments to the contrary over who was first are idiotic to the extreme.

Reply Score: 3

bleh, ST-Pad !!!
by mmu_man on Sat 16th Jan 2010 00:45 UTC
mmu_man
Member since:
2006-09-30

Every time there is an article on tablets people forget about the Atari Stylus, aka ST-Pad:
http://www.atarimuseum.com/computers/16bits/stpad.html

Reply Score: 3

RE: bleh, ST-Pad !!!
by chikahiro on Sat 16th Jan 2010 01:06 UTC in reply to "bleh, ST-Pad !!!"
chikahiro Member since:
2009-10-15

Oh, that's cool! Never knew about those before! ;)

Reply Score: 1

Newton was not a tablet!
by 3rdalbum on Sat 16th Jan 2010 09:45 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

Whoever claimed that the Newton was the "first tablet PC" must have been smoking something.

The Newton had a "message pad" form factor - MUCH more vertical resolution than horizontal. The Newton was a hand-held machine, a Personal Digital Assistant, or the ancestor of the Palm Pilot and the iPhone.

A tablet PC is a completely different form factor altogether.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Newton was not a tablet!
by puenktchen on Sat 16th Jan 2010 15:50 UTC in reply to "Newton was not a tablet!"
puenktchen Member since:
2007-07-27

Whoever claimed that the Newton was the "first tablet PC" must have been smoking something.

The Newton had a "message pad" form factor - MUCH more vertical resolution than horizontal. The Newton was a hand-held machine, a Personal Digital Assistant, or the ancestor of the Palm Pilot and the iPhone.

A tablet PC is a completely different form factor altogether.


so what? you can rotate the screen. the aspect ratio ist similar to a widescreen. and why should a tablet-pc have the same screen aspect ratio as a desktop screen or a laptopscreen anyway?

Reply Score: 3

NCR System 3125
by Riba on Sat 16th Jan 2010 10:23 UTC
Riba
Member since:
2006-02-12

I own the above system, it was relased in 1991 or 1992. It also uses 386SX processor, shipped with PenPoint (which does not work any longer since it is not y2k compliant ;) , but Widnows 3.1 for Pen works fine. It is actually still usable for playing Solitaire and Minesweeper. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: NCR System 3125
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 16th Jan 2010 11:13 UTC in reply to "NCR System 3125"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

We demand pictures ;) .

Reply Score: 1

SuperDaveOsbourne
Member since:
2007-06-24

Someone please mention if not already the General Magic products from the early 90s. Way, way ahead of their time.

Reply Score: 1

Fujitsu Stylistic anyone?
by Morgan on Sun 17th Jan 2010 04:09 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

I know the Newton predates the Stylistic series, but it was a PDA not a full blown computer. The Stylistic "pen computers" from Fujitsu were great machines for their time (the mid to late '90s). I had a model 1000 purchased on eBay for about $70 back in 2001. It was a project for my then girlfriend who was big into Serial Experiments: Lain and wanted something like the NaviComp used in the series.

It was quite underpowered hardware for the time, but I had some experience with modding the iOpener so I set to it and eventually had a pretty impressive portable touchscreen BSD box. It was bulky and heavy but was always meant as a novelty anyway. I think the later Stylistics were much better of course, and apart from the Axiotron Modbook I doubt you'll find a better representation of the form factor these days.

At least until the end of January, if the rumors are to be believed.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fujitsu Stylistic anyone?
by puenktchen on Sun 17th Jan 2010 17:13 UTC in reply to "Fujitsu Stylistic anyone?"
puenktchen Member since:
2007-07-27

I know the Newton predates the Stylistic series, but it was a PDA not a full blown computer.


why not? the first newton was more powerful than the first macs or pc-at (20 mhz arm6), the last newton probably about as powerful as your stylistic 1000 (166 mhz strongarm vs. 100 mhz 486dx2). because yiu don't like the formfactor? or because it doesn't run a desktop os?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Fujitsu Stylistic anyone?
by Morgan on Mon 18th Jan 2010 01:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Fujitsu Stylistic anyone?"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

And my BlackBerry cell phone is more powerful than the Newton, or indeed any computer made before 1998 and any PDA more than a couple years old. Raw processing power does not a full-blown personal computer make, though I will concede that the definition of personal computing is changing more rapidly these days. We're talking about the mid to late 90s though.

My point wasn't to dis the Newton; I wanted one back then too. But the Newton couldn't run desktop class software, and really never needed to. It served a specific purpose and did so, in my opinion, very well. The Stylistic and other similar systems, on the other hand, were designed to take your desktop apps with you on the road, and they did so very well. With Windows 95 and BSD on the Stylistic, we had a highly mobile computer with capabilities far beyond even the best PDAs of the time, with few caveats (battery life and bulkiness most prominent).

As I said before, if the rumors hold true then Apple has found the magic middle ground between underpowered PDA and bulky PC tablet. I can't wait to see it.

Reply Score: 2