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Meet The Man Who Designed a Tablet Computer 15 Years Before the iPad 374

Posted by timothy
from the flat-and-functional dept.
Doofus writes "The Washington Post has a profile of Roger Fidler, who 'invented' the tablet computer in the 1990s, while working as a visionary for newspaper firm Knight-Ridder. He is now embroiled in the Apple/Samsung legal war, as an expert witness. Fidler admits that other prior art influenced him, such as the tablets being used as computing devices in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior prior art."
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Meet The Man Who Designed a Tablet Computer 15 Years Before the iPad

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  • by Nick Fel (1320709) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:40PM (#39313749)
    They also invented talking cars.
  • iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:44PM (#39313775) Homepage

    What does the iPad have to do with it? There were commercial, mass-produced, tablets way before the first iPad.
    I would think, either this guy owns tablet tech and has been making money of it for decades or has missed his chance.

    • Re:iPad (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kreigaffe (765218) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:50PM (#39313817)

      This is ALL about the iPad. Apple is claiming that they own the patent and/or copyright to a rectangular tablet with a screen on the front -- all of 'em. Especially Samsung's, because they look similar. Their position is that nobody else ever before thought of or created anything like the iPad, and hence, everything else is a copy of the iPad.

      Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on, and that this has gone on so long is an embarrassment.

      • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:01PM (#39313879)
        Apple has never claimed that they invented the tablet. They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs. Notice that they have not sued others for design patents and they are specifically suing Samsung for certain models. As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out. They cannot say to a judge "Well look at it, it looks like our product."
        • Re:iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:24PM (#39314001)

          They are suing Samsung because they think or thought they could win. Generally in cases like this the company sues someone they think they can win and then use that case to set a legal precedent. They then take that precedent and threaten other companies with it. It has nothing to do with believing in the next guy and only protecting their patents. Its all about protecting their monopoly and profits.

          • Re:iPad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Ouchie (1386333) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @07:47PM (#39314881)

            They are suing Samsung because they think or thought they could win. Generally in cases like this the company sues someone they think they can win and then use that case to set a legal precedent. They then take that precedent and threaten other companies with it. It has nothing to do with believing in the next guy and only protecting their patents. Its all about protecting their monopoly and profits.

            I am not certain Apple really thinks that they can win. There is a secondary effect of the law suits and it is tied to Apple's marketing. They sue the competition for copying, even though they know they can't win. They drag the issue out through the Media and pair the media attention to their law suit to advertising of how the iPad is a superior product to the competition. It is a secondary way of drawing attention to the product, and I would say it is working.

            Pair this subliminal marketing with their ability to lock in manufacturing and supply chain to keep costs down and Apple can happily make a 50% profit margin on the iPad. This ties into how Apple markets their other computers, no other computer is an Apple that is why you will gladly pay a 25-40% premium for an Mac. The Mac has been around for over 20 years and has always touted itself as better than a PC. It is harder to do the same thing with a new product and hence the dynamic ways of marketing the iPad's superiority.

        • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

          by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:48PM (#39314161)

          As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out.

          No, no they don't. Design patents are illustrative, not descriptive. And it's very hard to think of anything this design patent shows that isn't "rectangular. round corners": USD627777S1 [scribd.com]

          • And it's very hard to think of anything this design patent shows that isn't "rectangular. round corners": USD627777S1 [scribd.com]

            Then you're not looking very closely. The curved back, with an oval profile, is part of the design. The particular radius of rounding on the corners is part of the design. The placement of the home button is part of the design. The particular placement of the screen and bezel size is part of the design. There are many more elements to the design.

            Just "rectangular. round corners"? That describes a bus, too. Does that patent look it claims the design of a bus? No. This is a lot narrower than you think it i

        • Re:iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by WebCowboy (196209) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:52PM (#39314187)

          Apple has never claimed that they invented the tablet. They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs.

          Have you even seen the 1990's video [youtube.com]? Nobody is disputing that tablets have been around for a long time, but when you see what Fidler's design looks like I can't see how Apple's case has any merit. Both black, flat, rounded-rectangles with a touchscreen that covers substantially the whole front of the device. Where's the novelty in Apple's design then?

          Notice that they have not sued others for design patents and they are specifically suing Samsung for certain models.

          This is how all patent trolls work. It is more about legal strategy than anything else. If you want to win a battle you stand a better chance if you don't have to fight on multiple fronts, so you pick one enemy to fight at once. Apple deemed them to be the biggest competitive threat--they had more success than any other non-Apple device on the market. Microsoft takes a slightly different approach and picks their battles based upon a candidates resolve and resources to fight vs. settle--a bit of a different strategy but they've been able to use the protection money they've shaken down phone companies for to keep their own platform afloat. Perhaps since Samsung had a supplier relationship with Apple that Jobs and Co. overestimated Samsung's willingness to settle/cooperate. I don't know exactly.

          In any case it isn't about Samsing being more of a copycat in any significant way. If that was all it was about why not pick the Motorola Xoom or the HTC Jetstream to put the smackdown on? They all folllow the same design pattern--one thought up by some Knight-Ridder researcher in the mid 1990s.

          As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out. They cannot say to a judge "Well look at it, it looks like our product."

          It is flat, rectangular with rounded corners and a screen that fills up the front face. There is a limit on how much more detailed you can get. The screen ratio isn't especially unique, and its exact dimensions do differ from the Samsung and other products out there to varying degrees already. Buttons on the devices are in differing locations, they do not have any user-servicable parts that can be interchanged between the products and so on. Seems that as similar looking as tablets all are there isn't a case for Apple here.

          I do believe Apple has a fantastic product in the iPad, but it is time for them to stop with the legal shenanigans and compete on the merits of their product. It is bad enough that Apple is being a patent troll. It is ovee the top coming from a company founded by a man who's mantra was "good artists copy, great artists steal".

          • Re:iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Pieroxy (222434) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @07:20PM (#39314701) Homepage

            You do sound angry and really have little clue.

            Both black, flat, rounded-rectangles with a touchscreen that covers substantially the whole front of the device. Where's the novelty in Apple's design then

            In the rest of the patent claims?

            This is how all patent trolls work.

            You have no clue what patent trolls are. Patent trolls *do not* implements their own patents. They sue to make money, no to protect their IP (however ridiculous the IP).

            It is more about legal strategy than anything else.

            No it's not. They sued Sammy because Sammy if *dumb fuck stupid* enough to dive in and make devices that actually infringe patents that *Steve Jobs* himself swore he would protect right on the 2007 keynote stage while announcing the first iPhone. "And boy, have we patented it." were his own words. Seriously, he said that on stage to the whole world.

            And only one company is stupid enough to design a device that *is* just a copycat in enough ways to actually infringe on one of those patents.

            there isn't a case for Apple here

            Apparently, at least one german judge disagreed with you. So clearly you have no clue of how the German legal system work. A German judge *is* at a better place than you to assert such a statement, and he did.

            Does Apple plays a smart game here? All bets are off. But they were very straightforward about their strategy, publicly, a long time ago.

            • by Lennie (16154)

              Actually a Dutch judge did, the Germans haven't decided if I remember correctly (the Germans were first and said: yes that looks alike. But that was just because Samsung had no time to prepare for a proper fight).

              • Actually, he didn't. The Dutch judge ruled:

                Samsung violates patent EP 868 with its Galaxy S, S2 and Ace model, but not with its Galaxy tablets. Samsung does not violate patent EP 948, while patent EP 022 was considered invalid. There was no violation by Samsung on any of Apple's design or copyright...

                EP 868 is about a user interface, by the way.

          • Re:iPad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by alienzed (732782) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @08:06PM (#39315041) Homepage
            I have to disagree, Samsung really did make their product look identical to Apple's, whether it was on purpose or not. http://dailymobile.se/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ipad-2-vs-samsung-galaxy-tab-10.1.jpg [dailymobile.se] Without the home button and the slightly different shape, they look exactly the same. Apple asserts that this fact may confuse customers. And don't forget that a LOT of shops selling non iPad tablets will still put that typical iPad home screen screenshot on it. Remember the ordeal where a Samsung display had all the core Apple apps up on the wall? Do I agree with patents like this? No. But if they exist and they should be enforceable, I think Apple has a case.
            • Re:iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Solandri (704621) on Sunday March 11, 2012 @02:34PM (#39318903)

              Samsung really did make their product look identical to Apple's, whether it was on purpose or not.

              Actually I think Samsung's tablet design is a copy of the digital picture frame they released in 2006 [engadget.com]. Given that was released nearly 4 years before the iPad, if anything I'd say Apple copied Samsung's design. Apple is just safe in that regard because tablets and digital photo frames aren't really competitors. But there's something seriously wrong if Apple can copy Samsung's picture frame design for use on an Apple tablet, then sue Samsung for using their own design on their own tablet.

        • Re:iPad (Score:4, Funny)

          by mspohr (589790) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @07:16PM (#39314677)

          Apple invented rounded corners!
          Apple OWNS rounded corners!
          No one else can make a tablet with rounded corners!
          Steve is a (rounded corner) genius!

        • Apple has never claimed that they invented the tablet. They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs. Notice that they have not sued others for design patents and they are specifically suing Samsung for certain models.

          Then why did Apple start (and then lose) a design lawsuit against Spanish tablet maker NT-K [theverge.com]? It's not that their products are even remotely similar, are they?

          RT.

      • Re:iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by medcalf (68293) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:16PM (#39313939) Homepage
        Not sure why that was rated informative, when it completely misstates Apple's legal position. When Samsung's lawyers couldn't tell the devices apart in court, there's a problem of trade dress, which is basically the IP equivalent of fraud.
        • by TuringTest (533084) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:47PM (#39314157) Journal

          'nuff said. [wikimedia.org]

          • The frame is substantially thicker than the display, which is usable from both sides and covered with a distinctive pattern. The frame has a very distinctive pattern in the corners where it has been enforced.

            If Samsung copied this design instead of copying the iPad design, then Apple wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on.
        • Re:iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Kreigaffe (765218) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:56PM (#39314219)

          Probably because I'm fucking right here, and you're an Apple apologist.

          Just sayin.

          Samsung doesn't have their plugs and button/s in the same place as the iPad, and thus, it's not a copy.

          What's that? It looks similar?

          EVERY FUCKING LCD MONITOR IS A BLACK RECTANGLE WITH ROUNDED CORNERS AND A DISPLAY ON THE FRONT. If you remove variations in their stands, they all look identical.

          You can point out differences in where they locate their power button, or any sort of port -- but that's just reinforcing my point, as Samsung has done just that. Samsung's tablet is just as different from an iPad as an Apple LCD monitor is different from an LG monitor.

          Of course, under the design patent granted to Apple, they ARE within their legal rights to file suit.
          the problem was that the design patent should never have been granted, as it was overly broad. they basically created a cylindrical bottle with a cap on the top and are now saying that anyone who wants to sell bottled drinks has to use a non-cylindrical shape. that's fucking obnoxious, and Apple should rightfully be raked over the coals for it.

          If this was Microsoft, and not Apple, I somehow doubt anyone would be defending their position.

      • Re:iPad (Score:5, Informative)

        by Americano (920576) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:24PM (#39314003)

        Apple is claiming that they own the patent and/or copyright to a rectangular tablet with a screen on the front

        Except that's not what they've claimed at all. They have a specific "design patent" on a specific design, look, packaging for a specific device. And when somebody (ESPECIALLY SAMSUNG) copies that design in extreme detail, Apple alleges in court that Samsung has infringed on its design patent.

        Their position is that "Samsung, specifically, is using a suite of design cues covered by our patent to make their tablets look like knockoffs of ours - confusing customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device."

        You might try understanding the legal issues before you spout off about them - whether or not you agree with Apple's arguments that the devices are "too similar," or with the idea of design patents in general, misrepresenting the actual facts of the case just makes you look rather slow and dim-witted. Do try to keep up.

        • What I'd like to know is how they could confuse customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device when "Samsung" is printed on the device and the box it comes in.
          • by gtall (79522)

            Are these the same customers who download Bouncing Bunnies and then express disbelief that their system has a virus?

          • Re:iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Americano (920576) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:55PM (#39314211)

            What I'd like to know is how Samsung's lawyers could be unable to tell the difference [reuters.com] between an Apple and a Samsung product from ten feet away, yet you assume that the casual viewer will totally know the difference.

            If the only way you can tell between an "authentic" Louis Vuitton purse and a $10 streetcorner bargain made by "Louise Vitton" is through close inspection of the packaging, labels, and finish, then you have produced what is commonly known as a "knockoff." And that's precisely what Apple has alleged - that Samsung's new tablet "slavishly" copies their design so that only a close inspection will allow you to tell the two apart.

            Again, you can certainly argue whether or not design patents should be allowed, and you can certainly argue that Samsung's device is not "too similar" to Apple's, but let's at least get the substance of the allegations right. Apple is not saying that they "own roundrect tablets with a black front." They are alleging that the specific design of the specific tablets from Samsung violates Apple's design patents by copying a substantial portion of Apple's trade dress.

            • Re:iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

              by tomhath (637240) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:06PM (#39314269)
              I could probably make one out of plexiglass and plywood that could fool them from ten feet away. It's a shiny black rectangle with rounded corners.
            • Re:iPad (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Kreigaffe (765218) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:10PM (#39314301)

              I can't tell the difference between any two brands of jeans.

              I can't tell the difference between any two brands of mechanical pencils.

              Hell, most people can't tell the different between a Harley and a Honda.

              Certainly if a brand were to distinguish itself from the rest -- unique stitching or something in jeans -- that would stand out, and copying that would be emulation.

              But.. making a pair of pants out of blue denim with a zipper and button on the front, with 2 back pockets and 2 front/side pockets likely with a smaller pocket for a watch on the right side?

              You can't fucking patent that design, because it's the basic design of all things we call "jeans".

              That is precisely what Apple's doing with their iPad design. You're simply an Apple apologist. If this was Microsoft, not Apple, you'd be calling for heads to roll.

              Have you LOOKED at Apple's design patent? It IS for a "rectangular tablet, rounded corners, bevel, screen on front".

              The design patent was overly broad, should never have been granted, and Apple is behaving like a boorish asshole by trying to enforce it. These = facts.

              • by Americano (920576)

                That is precisely what Apple's doing with their iPad design. You're simply an Apple apologist. If this was Microsoft, not Apple, you'd be calling for heads to roll.

                I never shared my opinion on the validity or usefulness of these patents. I supplied facts about the case to explain to the slow learners that the case isn't about "round rect with a black front." There are a host of claims that go much deeper than "round rect with black front." In fact, Samsung could have come up with a different design that

                • I supplied facts about the case to explain to the slow learners that the case isn't about "round rect with a black front." ...... In fact, Samsung could have come up with a different design that would have trivially avoided the claim: color the plastic in the front bezel anything but black, and voila, the devices are easily distinguished.

                  If you supplied facts to say that this isn't about "round rect with a black front", then why bring up the comparison of the products from 10 feet away? In fact, that has been your only fact that you keep supplying. At that distance, the differences between the two products cannot be seen.At that distance it is all just about rounded corners and a black front.

                  If it isn't all just "round rect with a black front." then why is your solution to change the black front to another color? If black around the edges o

                • by Compaqt (1758360)

                  >color the plastic in the front bezel anything but black

                  What, so now they own the color black?

                  What color was the Knight-Ridder tablet? Black, of course (before Apple "invented" it).

              • I can't tell the difference between any two brands of jeans.

                Some people are blind to things they don't care about. Most people can quite clearly distinguish between different designs of jeans, including different designs by the same manufacturer. And any manufacturer would sue the ass off any competitor who tried to copy their design.

                • No clothing manufacturers would sue another another manufacturer for copied designs because patents for clothing are not accepted. And yet the fashion industry doesn't seem to be standing still. Imagine that! Innovation without patents on look-and-feel in an industry that is all about look-and-feel!
              • You're obviously not getting it.

                I hadn't wanted to do this, but the legions of Apple-haters have forced my hand.

                Apple's special, secret-sauce patented tablet design includes:

                1. The letter i. No, that the Phoenician letter I [wikipedia.org]. The Apple i, after Apple invented it, stands for "me", a pivot around which the universe turns. Also, Latin I is J, for Jehovah^H^H^HJobs.

                2. The color black. No other company is allowed to make black plastic personal electronic devices. Apple's special color black is made from lovingly

            • Re:iPad (Score:5, Interesting)

              by MisterMidi (1119653) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:13PM (#39314315) Homepage
              Nice hyperbole, from one to all Samsung lawyers. Just one couldn't tell the difference, another could. From your own link:

              At one point during the hearing, she held one black glass tablet in each hand above her head, and asked Sullivan if she could identify which company produced which. "Not at this distance your honor," said Sullivan, who stood at a podium roughly ten feet away. "Can any of Samsung's lawyers tell me which one is Samsung and which one is Apple?" Koh asked. A moment later, one of the lawyers supplied the right answer.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Americano (920576)

                I see. So you're saying you don't think that the lead counsel for the defendant being unable to distinguish between the two products at a fairly close distance is a pretty strong argument that the two devices are at least flirting with the defendant's device being a knockoff?

                You don't think it would have been relevant for them to spend time poring over both devices and highlighting the similarties and the differences, so that they could identify which device was which, and demonstrate in court how differen

                • No, I'm saying one lawyer does not equal all lawyers. I agree he should have prepared better, it makes him look like a dumbass and doesn't help the case. In his defense, they do look similar, but so do all black tablets with rounded corners, especially from 10 feet. And if both devices are inspired by the same device from a '68 movie, is the Galaxy still a knockoff of the iPad?
                  • No no, you see "Apple attorney Harold McElhinny said Apple's product design is far superior to previous tablets, so Apple's patents should not be invalidated by designs that came before." Their product design is far superior you see.

                    Sheesh. I'm an Apple apologist and this lawsuit makes me blush.

                • by tomhath (637240)

                  So you're saying you don't think that the lead counsel for the defendant being unable to distinguish between the two products at a fairly close distance

                  Without knowing the lawyer, there are any number of reasons she couldn't identify which was which; the most likely being that she probably had reading glasses on and couldn't see squat at that distance (personal experience talking here).

            • Well the casual buyer might spot the word Samsung written on the box.
            • Re:iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

              by _xeno_ (155264) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:54PM (#39314539) Homepage Journal

              What I'd like to know is how Samsung's lawyers could be unable to tell the difference [reuters.com] between an Apple and a Samsung product from ten feet away, yet you assume that the casual viewer will totally know the difference.

              I'm pretty sure that's bullshit, because:

              At one point during the hearing, she held one black glass tablet in each hand above her head, and asked Sullivan if she could identify which company produced which.

              They were most likely off, meaning you couldn't see the user interface. And depending on how they were being held, you could probably block off the home button and other identifying characteristics so the only thing to go on would be the aspect ratio, which while entirely different, is something you'd need to know ahead of time.

              So, here's a challenge for you: Go into a big box store, and find the TV section. From far enough away that you can't see the logos, I want you to identify by brand each TV. Can you do it? Because some people certainly can, but most people would just see a bunch of black rectangles on the wall, all showing the same video.

              Yet, TV manufacturers don't sue each other over the "trade dress" despite the fact that all the large black slabs look basically identical. You know why? Because form follows function. It's a TV: it's basically all display with a little bit of structure around it and a few controls beneath the screen. They all look the same.

              The exact same thing applies to tablets. Visually, they're just a touchscreen, with a few buttons around the display. They all look identical to the casual observer. But if you hand one to someone and ask them who made it, unless they can't read, no one will mistake a Samsung for an ASUS. Let alone an iPad.

              • Yet, TV manufacturers don't sue each other over the "trade dress" despite the fact that all the large black slabs look basically identical. You know why? Because form follows function. It's a TV: it's basically all display with a little bit of structure around it and a few controls beneath the screen. They all look the same.

                My Samsung TV has a very distinctive design. If you removed all the logos, I could easily pick out a TV with the same design, and would assume it is the same brand as mine.

          • I made a point earlier about how the two devices are very similar. Even though I did say that, I did want to chime in and point out that, no, I don't think it's going to cause brand confusion. I imagine Apple's just playing to a brand-related and very generalized law.

            That said, Apple spent a lot of time and money arriving at the form that they did. Samsung has no business lifting it off them. Let them spend their own money to come up with something, all the other manufacturers did.

            • Entirely ignoring that the Knight-Ridder tablet took Apple about 90% of the way.

              Did you miss the part in the article where the guy had presented his work to Apple? They feigned disinterest, then later came up with: a black rectangular hand-held electronic tablet.

          • What I'd like to know is how they could confuse customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device when "Samsung" is printed on the device and the box it comes in.

            Missing the point. It is not about confusing customers into thinking they are buying an Apple device, it is about confusing customers into thinking they are buying an iPad.

            Grandma goes to the store and says she wants to buy an iPad. Sales droid sells her an "iPad" made by Samsung. Grandma doesn't have a clue who makes the iPad, she's heard of Samsung before, and the box and the tablet look exactly how she remembers her son's iPad and the box it came in.

            Interestingly, company logos cannot be part of a

    • I would think, either this guy owns tablet tech and has been making money of it for decades or has missed his chance.

      Or neither. He's a witness for the defendant in this case, not a litigant, himself. Perhaps he missed his chance, but it seems his point is the idea wasn't particularly novel or original (or patentable) when he described it 18 years ago. Picard was certainly not impressed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by WebCowboy (196209)

      What does the iPad have to do with it? There were commercial, mass-produced, tablets way before the first iPad.

      The iPad has VERY MUCH to do with it. When the iPad was released, Mr. Fidler's concept was so similar to the new product that it moved people to recall his video from years ago. He wrote an essay on the topic when Apple was still pushing out Apple ][+ micros and took inspiration from a sci-fi movie from the 60s.

      But in particular the iPad has very much to do with Mr. Fidler because his work from all those years ago has been submitted as prior art by the combatants in the Apple-instigated patent war. Furth

  • Not about the tablet (Score:5, Informative)

    by xswl0931 (562013) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @04:56PM (#39313859)

    Apple is not making any claims on patents on the general idea of a tablet. They asserting design patents on specific design elements. If this guy's tablet invention shows prior art to Apple's designs patents, then those patents should be invalidated. Repeating the "rectangle with a screen" rhetoric is more akin to religion than science.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Yes, as long as your tablet is pyramid shaped with razor blades on the edges, Apple will reluctantly concede that their patent on the speed limit sign shaped flat surfaced pad (that, you know, looks like a pad) doesn't apply. Otherwise they claim they own it.

      you get to pick the show plenty. I only claim the right to pick the show on days that have 'day' in the name.

    • Apple is not making any claims on patents on the general idea of a tablet. They asserting design patents on specific design elements.

      Translation: Now I'm not saying Apple patented the idea of the tablet, but Apple patented the idea of the tablet. They're burying the competition in a sea of lawsuits claiming that they invented every design element of the tablet computer is pretty much the same thing... we're arguing over semantics. There is not a single manufacturer of tablets that hasn't been sued by Apple.

  • GRiDPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:00PM (#39313877)

    The first tablet was the GRiDPad [wikipedia.org] from 1989.

    • Re:GRiDPad (Score:5, Funny)

      by stoofa (524247) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:07PM (#39313901)
      Etch a Sketch. 1950s. That was prior art on many levels. Not that you could write PRIOR ART on it. It would be more like RBIQB_ABT.
      • by zullnero (833754)
        Etch a Sketch: Its touchscreen was so good that it needed dialknobs to move a little needle around on a screen.

        No, the Etch a Sketch is nothing like a tablet except that it's flat, thin, and square, and even that's not a true prerequisite for a tablet. They're rectangles sometimes! Etch a Sketch had more in common with a notepad. The tablet concept is a flat computer that runs software with a touchscreen and probably a backlight of some sort. It's got to at least have something running on a rom chip.
      • by guspasho (941623)

        Bah, I should still be able to use my mod points for +1 Funny after I post a comment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In the Ender's Game in 1985, every school child had their personal, networked tablet to make their home work on. Four years is enough to productizize a fantasy if the building blocks are there.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Pffft. Tablets go back to Biblical times. The UI was a little slow however.
      • by hawk (1151)

        Yeah, but the error-correction was truly impressive . . .

        and you gurus complaint about how *Apple* tries to discourage competition? :)

        hawk

    • Interesting that Samsung were the ones to manufacture it.

  • One's white, trendy, and useless; the other one is a tablet.

  • The 90s... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geogob (569250) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:29PM (#39314035)

    I find interesting that someone claims he invented the tablet computer in the 90s.

    Why do I find this interesting? I owned my first tablet computer in the 90s. Yep, that's right. Even funnier is that this tablet computer was from Apple computers - but this is completely irrelevant. Point is, development of tablet computers began much before the 90s in order to be released as commercial products in the 90s. And this guy predicted tablet computer around 1994... coincidentally the year when Apple Computer released its first tablet computer.

    The day it was released I both wanted one and was convinced it could have a great future. I imagine thousands of possible use for such tablet computers. But I didn't invent the iPad. Or the Samsung Galaxy. Or what ever.

    • For those of you who are missing it, he's referring to the Newton [wikipedia.org]. People sometimes forget that Apple did some innovative stuff even when Steve Jobs wasn't there...

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:34PM (#39314069)
    The Sumerians and Assyrians were 'computing' on the cPad (clay tablets), long before any of this.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:41PM (#39314109) Homepage Journal

    I bought it from a second hand dealer around 2001. It was operated with a stylus and came loaded with software which might be used by a telecomunications service person. It was basically a windows 3.1 laptop with a touch sensitive screen.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @05:54PM (#39314197) Journal
    designed the tablet. It was designed almost a century before it ever came to light. We are simply bolting together mostly off the shelf stuff and gluing it together with nice software because it can be done now. There is no invention in the tablet, its the realization of hopes and dreams and we had to wait for technology to catch up. No one man invented the tablet, not by a long shot.
    • by guspasho (941623)

      The claim isn't that Apple invented the tablet, it's that Samsung's products are knockoffs of Apple's tablets, like Rolox watches.

  • 1992 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pcjunky (517872) <walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:01PM (#39314243) Homepage

    I worked on a project called the Telesignature back in 1992. We used a pen tablet computer from Grid as the signing device. Several other companies followed suite in 1993. There was a pen computing convention in Boston that year. The only difference between these and tablets today was the pen. They looked and acted almost identical.

  • It seems these were much further along and advanced than anything at the time.
  • Tablets are computers with the screen integrated, theres nothing inventive in that, is just putting two ideas together.

  • In the early 1990s Go Corporation had created the PenPoint operating system and a 386-based rectangular tablet. I worked with people at Slate, a company in the same Foster City building as Go. Slate made application software to run under PenPoint.

    Go had a working, functioning tablet back then. I used one. It was thrilling to be able to do things on its touch screen. Long before the iPad. Knight Ridder had nothing but a mockup; Go had real working hardware and software.

    Unfortunately, what happened was Micros

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