Short Memories on Tablet Design History
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Short Memories on Tablet Design History



Tablets these days are slates. Thinner is better. Size is between 7 inches and 12 inches or so. The iPad defined the current market and others are either following along or trying to do their own thing. In the heady rush that has been the last two “Years of the Tablet,” it is often easy to write off earlier Tablets as failures or just ignore that little bit of history. But there are those of us who remember some of the designs of Tablets back before technology advanced to a point where they could be designed to look like what we call Tablets today.

I noticed this morning that a couple of Mac sites had picked up on a site called Obama Pacman that purported to lay out a little design history of Tablets. I guess they didn’t bother looking too deeply. To be fair the original post’s intent I think was talking about the design and patent issues that are bedeviling the industry currently.

Here’s a collection of some past Tablets that some of us have known and loved. It’s certainly not an all inclusive list, but it offers some perspective. See if you can guess which Tablets are which. (Of course some of these are just too easy.)



  1. Anonymous

    08/18/2011 at 3:41 pm

    they did come a long way

  2. Anonymous

    08/18/2011 at 3:41 pm

    they did come a long way

  3. Michael Anderson

    08/18/2011 at 4:04 pm

    I’m with you to an extent – heck, I would put the Newton on that list of slate-type devices.  And there is a long history … and while the iPad may have outsold every tablet ever made by May 2010, sales and innovation are certainly not uniquely intertwined!

    Yet the purpose of that site was clear: before the iPad tablets were largely PC-centric convertible devices, and ever since the iPad they are keyboard-less, mobile-OS, finger-friendly multitouch devices.  And in that regard there is some truth to it – just look at how many devices got canceled or redesigned after the iPad (such as the HP Slate, whatever Lenovo was doing, and of course the Galaxy Tab 10.1)

  4. Jesse B Andersen

    08/18/2011 at 4:44 pm

    For the iPad to be useful in work environments you need Apps tailored for the tasks.

    I prefer the convertible tablets because they offer the solutions I need.  It would love to see slimmer convertible tablets.  Right now I have a Fujitsu T580.

  5. Grt2106

    08/18/2011 at 7:52 pm

    Warner, I know it never saw a US release, but the Acer C200 series is an exciting form factor you missed!  Beautiful size, and included optical drive.  Might one day be resurrected as the form factor of the future.

  6. GTaylor

    08/18/2011 at 8:45 pm

    Warner, it would be nice if one of these new light and easy tabletts could remote access a more serious computer near by. Leave the one turned on in the bag or on the desk and use Mr. Light And Easy PC to access it. Where is Hugo T, anyway?

  7. lsbeller

    08/19/2011 at 2:30 am

    Yeah, my NEC LitePad was less than half an inch thick, had a 10 inch screen and weighed less than two pounds. That was ten years ago. It was always my favorite design but the battery life was less than two hours.


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