And in 1972... there was... the Dynabook

Discussion in 'iPad' started by br0adband, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. br0adband macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2006
    Very interesting article (did a search and didn't see it mentioned anyplace else) with information provided by someone with a good background towards Apple history and Xerox PARC as well: Alan Kay himself.,10209.html

    If you can read it without automagically bashing it and put some thought into it - as well as what Kay himself says in the article about all things Apple and Jobs too - I'd be interested to see what other people think about it.

    As noted near the end of the article, I agree and have been saying for a very long time that the iPad is not revolutionary, it is merely an evolutionary product which was bound to happen sooner or later. I do give Apple credit for getting the damned thing built and on shelves before the competition (which has a very long way to go at this point, sad to say).

    I agree with Kay on most every point he brings up in the article, and was pleasantly surprised to see him suggest something to Jobs back in 1984 that was similar to concepts that I've had about "tablet" devices and portable computers since the 1970s myself. I'm an old fart and this stuff - meaning computers - has been in my blood since the 1960s so, it's actually a great article bringing a lot of memories back to mind.

    Read it, comment, whatever. Just don't automagically turn it into "Apple created..." etc etc because they didn't. Not this time, and not other times as well but, that's another thread... ;)
  2. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    This is old news. Pretty much everyone knows there have been tablet ideas all over the place for years and that Apple didn't invent it, but what they DID invent is a usable tablet that has an operating system built for tablet purposes.

    This was the sticking point on all previous tablet attempts by other companies. I remember when swivel screen laptops came out (many years earlier then most people realize) none of them sold because the windows tablet edition (or whatever they called it) was regular windows that would accept stylus input and limited handwriting recognition.

    Not to mention usually the touch screens were pretty spotty in their responsiveness and third party software support was virtually non-existant.

    Even though I have no use for a tablet I have to commend apple on what they did. They took an already popular OS (iPhone OS), modified it for a larger device and added a lot more functionality to the larger device. Anyone familiar with the iPhone is instantly familiar with the iPad because its the same underlying OS.
  3. barefeats macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
  4. za9ra22 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2003
    It's a nice, glib, phrase to describe an idea or product as 'evolutionary, not revolutionary', but it's a meaningless distinction, generally intended as a derisive throw-away than for any other purpose. But the fact is that luminaries have been thinking of new concepts and new applications of concepts since the dawn of time, whether in technology or any other sphere.

    I don't recall Jobs, or Apple, claiming they invented any idea Apple have marketed over the years. Indeed, it is demonstrably true that what they have done is take ideas other people have had and (usually) turn them into marketable products. Sometimes they have been ahead of the curve, with such as the Apple II and even the first iMac, and sometimes they have been a little too far in left field with such as the Newton. But more often than not in recent years, they have taken technologies which are not all that new and ideas that are fairly simple and reasoned, and introduced a product which takes the market in a different direction that it was going before. The iPhone is a good example - Apple didn't invent the cellphone, nor touch screens, nor were they the first to conceive of a cellphone which could also manage data via an internet connection, but instead they took a market that was enmeshed with various cramped and difficult user interfaces and fiddly unfriendly devices and built a slick user experience and infrastructure around a device which was so easy to use it created a new paradigm which the rest of the market has had to follow in order to challenge.

    Arguably the iPad is the same class of product. There have been any number of manufacturers who have produced 'slate' type devices over the years, all of which have pushed the technology of the day, even down to such things as the Sinclair Z88 from 1988, through to the various devices running Windows tablet edition of the last few years. All have been part of the evolutionary process which has led to the iPad - and the iPad itself is just another step in the evolution of such devices that will lead to the next new thing to come after.

    The moral of the story is that a good idea is a good idea - and sometimes it requires a confluence of technologies and marketing acumen later in the day before it comes to fruition.
  5. 4DThinker macrumors 68020

    Mar 15, 2008
    I'll differ here with you. The iPad operating system, as you said, was made for phone sized devices. All they did was stretch it to make it work on an iPad. As far as has been revealed so far nothing but the apps were changed to fit the greater screen area. Usable? Yes. Efficient? Not anywhere near as efficient as it could have been had they spent any time studying the ergonomics of spanning the larger screen. Then customized the OS toward more efficiency.
  6. Alchematron macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2007
    Maui Hawaii
  7. pooryou macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    Evolutionary and Revolutionary are not mutually exclusive, despite what some pundits may want you to think.
  8. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    Actually there are gestures on the iPad involving a greater number of touch points and movement than allowed on the iPhones smaller screen, no? In the SDK if not already in many apps.
  9. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    great article, thanks :)

    The one genuine kudo that can be given to Steve Jobs is that he was the one to bring the overall idea of the dynabook to market.

    After all it's been out there 38 years ..... Palm could have done it, etc but in the end it was Apple.
  10. markfrautschi macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2004
    Rockville, MD
    1968 - Another Pad Device Precursor?

    Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey contained two examples of an imaginary IBM device called the ThinkPad, I believe. It is visible on the table of the galley section of the Discovery's centrifuge and is used to watch a BBC programme. The ThinkPad had a row of large rocker buttons along one of the shorter sides. The astronauts are not shown interacting with the devices, so these buttons appear to be the only hint of the user interface.

    Attached Files:

  11. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    The fact that you used all-bold means that we don't care.
  12. Zepaw macrumors 65816


    Apr 18, 2010
  13. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010

    I think as Kay said in the article. They already had it working on a larger tablet. I believe the phone was an easier thing to market as they worked to get the tablet and OS right. Those of us with the iPhones/iPod touch are the beta testers. I also believe it is very efficient. And only time will tell about the apps. As with any new device, you need to give the developers some time to catch up to the possibilities of the technology. Like Apple or hate them they put out good products that do what they (meaning Apple) say it will do.

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