Flashback Friday: The History of the Tablet

Tablets in 2014

It’s becoming harder and harder to avoid them. You know what we’re talking about. People use them to take pictures, watch movies, surf the ‘net and Skype. All in one bus ride to work. Tablets are here to stay. But just how long has this technology been around?

Tablets were spawned from pen computing technology. Patents were made as early as 1915. But in the world of science fiction, the tablet became synonymous with the future as much as teleportation.

The very first tablet didn’t come close to replacing the computer, but started a race that created the most recent additions to the consumer electronics industry.

Even though the technology for the tablet was around, everyone seemed to have a different tweak or purpose for the device. At one point it replaced a keyboard for an actual computer. Then came the idea of the Dynabook.


(Image courtesy of http://s7.computerhistory.org)

The Dynabook was an original tablet-computing concept conceived by Alan Kay in 1968. Its purpose? To serve as an educational device for children, designed to incorporate a lasting familiarity with technology. Kay’s proposal outlined requirements similar to today’s laptops and tablets, only Kay proposed the Dynabook come with an “eternal battery”- wouldn’t that be nice?! It was Kay’s hope that the device would be a foundation for a lifetime of adopting new technology into children’s daily lives.

While the DynaBook never came to be, the concept of implementing technology into the forefront of personal development is not so foreign. Today, technology is a key part of education in many schools.

The very first commercialized tablet looked like this:


(Image via http://tabletlibrary.org)

The Samsung GRiDPad 1910 was introduced in 1989 for archiving inventory for U.S. military. A far cry from Samsung’s line of Galaxy tablets we see today, it was the beginning of change in the computing industry.

Now you see tablets that look like this:


The differences between the original GridPad and the iPad are pretty dramatic but they remind us of how fast technology evolves. Let’s compare specs:

GRiDPad vs iPad

Needless to say, tablet technology came a long way and proved itself to be everything and more for the science fiction fantasies. The greatest achievement is how everything we know has conformed to a deeper and more human system. 

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