Opinion:A thumbnail history of the Tablet (Or why there seems to be unending change)


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Staff member
Aug 6, 2010
In the beginning was DOS and from it rose the first Tablet in 1989. And it was pitiful. The GridPAD Tablet ran a proprietary DOS, used an inductive Pen to provide input to the computer. It was a monster. I can speak from experience. It came with a power supply that weighted close to two pounds, The dimensions were about the size of an IPad, only 3 times as thick and weighted about 5Kg (10+ lbs).

It was not so much a tablet as a Pen Computer. The Specs of 8088 Processor/640K Ram and a 20 Mb Drive did not make it a power house when the 386 desktop was already mainstream and the GridPAD had limited compatibility. Most people who I knew that used one, ended up plugging in a Keyboard and just propped it up as a flat screen notebook. It had uses but was out of date by the time it made it to the market.
At the other end of the spectrum was the Palm Pilot. Weighing only 160 grams (5.6 oz) It was really very full featured with a resistive touchpad that required a stylus or a SHARP point on your fingernail.
It is from these two primitive tablets the current Android tablet has as ancestors. I will not bother with the various attempts at tablet Computing since then. (But remember the Newton?) There have been many attempts, but none could generate the interface or interest for a tablet type computer.

I have an opinion none of the major PC/PDA/Phone manufacturers had it right until this year. The tablets before 2009 could be classified into one of three categories:

1. PCs trying to be a tablet
2. PDAs trying to be a baby PC or a phone
3. Phones trying to be a PDA or a baby PMP

The problem is they always did one thing well while trying to do the other. Anyone remember how "wonderful" the IPAQ series of Smartphones weren't.

A tablet is different. The world has changed. There have been dramatic changes. And I am not talking about the IPad. What has happened the change of communication. It is nexus of everything. Video on demand, Internet, Facebook, YouTube, Instant Messages, Video Chat, E-Mail, and on and on and on.

Who really wants to watch a full length movie on a 2.5x4 screen. Maybe a music video, but anything longer gets old real fast. And trying to browse the internet, Give me MORE screen real estate.

Then there is weight, I do not want to carry a notebook weight device everywhere I go. Nor do I need a keyboard for everything I do. So tada, the tablet offers opportunities never before available.

I have been waiting for the tablet for soooo long. I have lived through each of the prior technology attempts. I do technology for a living. Apple is innovative. But the IPad is still nothing but an overgrown IPhone or IPad Touch. But Android is evolutionary. It is the future. So it is with Android Tablets

Android has evolved more in 18 months since the G1 than the same period of IPhone History. It took 3 years to go from the basic IPhone in July 2007 to the IPhone 4 in July 2010. There will be the Apple evangelist who will scream nooooo. But, that is the reality.

The same is happening now but faster with Android Tablets. The first 1.5 tablets sold at the beginning of 2010 are already outclassed by the Samsung Galaxy. Do not get me wrong. 1.5 is a great starting point. 2.2 is better and 3.0 will exceed both dramatically. And the year is not over.

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