Although it is not as ubiquitous as smartphone, the tablet or tablet has become a device that many have at home, well in the form of iPad or under other brands such as Microsoft, Amazon, Lenovo or Samsung, to name just a few of them. It is relatively cheap, its battery and screen are better than those of the smartphone and can be drive more comfortably than the classic desktop computer or even the laptop.

The iPad and the like have become commonplace, but when it was announced in 2010, not everyone saw it as something that would work in the market. Who wanted a giant iPhone having a Mac, a PC or a smartphone? Time has proved him right, also opening the door for other manufacturers to create their own tablets. And with the launch of iPad Pro, a multitude of professional sectors are seeing the iPad as their main work device.

But as usual, others in the past have already tried. Own Manzana once launched a PDA, Apple newton, which he did not like due to its technical limitations. Even Microsoft He was fiddling with the possibility of launching a device with a screen long before considering the range Surface current. Also the greats of the mobile telephony of the 90’s tried their luck, like Ericsson or Nokia.

Below we review the most iconic and revolutionary examples in his day. None of them managed to come to fruition, if we take into account the investment it involved in all aspects, but they laid the foundations that would make the world hold tablets in their hands decades later. more sophisticated and economical but very similar to those that we can consider ancestors of the iPad.


Most sources agree that the first modern tablet was Dynabook, a device that stood out for its screen, a small keyboard, about 2 centimeters thick and a ratio of 23 centimeters by 30 centimeters. The concept emerged in 1968 under the name of KiddiComp (computer for children in English). Your Creator, Alan KayI wanted a device for children of all ages. For this, this first tablet was ideal, since unlike personal computers, it was easier to transport, handle, etc.

The Dynabook It did not pass the mockup phase. The idea was a good one, but the technology that would make it possible was yet to come. We would have to wait until 2001, the year in which Microsoft launches its devices Microsoft Tablet PC in collaboration with manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard.

With everything, Alan Kay he managed in part to carry out his children’s computer project under the name of One Laptop Per Child (2005). During these years it has managed to launch four different models, the last one with a touch screen and ARM processor.

Atari ST-PAD

In 1992 Atari introduced his own tablet, called Stylus first but then renamed as ST-Pad or Atari ST-Pad. This American manufacturer, popular especially for its video game consoles, during the 80s and 90s also messed around with computers and other devices.

Source: Atari Museum

In the case of ST-PAD, this tablet or iPad had the appearance of a Telesketch. A rectangular device, with a screen that covered almost the entire surface and a stylus connected by a cable. Inside, a 8000 68000 CPU and 1 MB of memory. Optionally you could add a keyboard via connection RJ-11. It also had serial and parallel ports. Its operating system was Atari TOS, with graphical interface, and also included software PenOS which added support for the pen built into the device.

The ST-PAD It did not go into production, so we only have images of some test prototypes left. The purpose of Atari It was to use it in professional sectors such as patient monitoring in hospitals or to inventory stores or warehouses. Same as him Dynabook, it came early.

Acorn NewsPad

Acorn Computers It was a British computer manufacturer that operated from 1978 to 2000 creating personal computers, or technically microcomputers. Other devices such as PDAs or a tablet, the NewsPad.

The project NewsPad It began in 1994 and was inspired by the fictional device that we can see in the legendary film 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. The result was a device of 22 centimeters by 28 centimeters with a touch screen, processor ARM and with operating system RISC OS, the usual one in the house.

As a curiosity, it was tested during 1996 and 1997 in Spain, more specifically in Barcelona at the headquarters of Ediciones Primera Plana. He even appeared on the cover of the specialized magazine Risc User October 1996.

The Acorn NewsPad nor was it mass produced. The media were then beginning to go digital, and the internet was still at a very early stage for the average user. Another device that did not catch on for coming too soon. All in all, it suspiciously inspired another similar device, the Intel WebPad from 1999.

Apple newton

Technically, the Apple newton it was not a tablet. Rather it was a PDA, a type of device that had its golden age in the 90s. Introduced in 1992, the Apple newton It was priced at $ 700 at the time. His name was Newton MessagePad and it had several models launched between 1993 and 1998.

As for its technical characteristics: touch screen, its own operating system, Newton OSprocessor ARM, wireless pen, expandable by memory cards PCMCIA… You could even connect a keyboard to it.

When talking about Apple newton it is always said that it was a failure. It is true that it was very expensive for the time and that it did not have the expected level of sales. All in all, it had good sales in very specific professional sectors. If it had worked in the personal market, we would be talking about success. In any case, part of its technology inspired the iPhone and, later, the iPad.

Microsoft Tablet PC

Let’s make things clear. Manzana didn’t invent the tablet but Microsoft neither. This does not detract from the project Tablet pc Microsoft had in mind to create touch screen computers with integrated wireless pen. In some cases it also included a keyboard that you could remove and put on.

The Microsoft Tablet PC they saw the light in 2003 and they were accompanied by Windows Xp in a special version, Tablet PC Edition. All in all, the first prototype shown in 2001 had 128 MB of RAM, 10 GB of storage and a 600 MHz processor.

Although their sales were rather modest, these tablets continued selling for years and evolving with lighter models. There was even some model with an ARM processor. Today, the adventure started with Microsoft Tablet PC stick with the line Surface offering touch laptops (Surface laptop and Surface book) and other modules with optional keyboard (Surface go and Surface pro).

Ericsson DelphiPad

The Swedish Ericsson, known for its mobile devices, also set out to create its own tablet. In 2001, they announced that they were working on a device called DelphiPad. The development was done between the company Ericsson Mobile Communications and the Center for Wireless Communications Singapore or Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) in English.

Source: Ericssoners

This iPad called DelphiPad It weighed 1.3 kilograms, was 29.5 centimeters by 19.5 centimeters and had a thickness of 3.5 centimeters. It had, of course, a touch screen, and as for the software, it used Linux and Netscape Navigator. It also included a microphone, speakers and a memory card slot.

The Ericsson DelphiPad It was not mass produced either, but it was a very interesting project to test the benefits of 3G technology that Ericsson and others worked with in those years. In addition, this device was tested by the POT to test if you could use wireless internet in space. For this, tests were carried out in the Arctic.

Nokia 510 Web Tablet

We finish this review by the ancestors of the iPad with the proposal he made Nokia, the former giant of mobile phones and that in its endless catalog has brought us surprises such as Nokia N-Gage or this tablet, the Nokia 510 Web Tablet.

With a weight of 1.8 kilograms and a 10 inch LCD touch screenAbout 1,000 units were manufactured. Unlike current tablets, it had a frame that included buttons on the sides to interact with the device. The battery lasted about 4 hours.

Source: PhoneArena

The operating system of this tablet was Symbian, which had already been included on their smartphones and mobile phones. And as the default browser, I used Opera.

What happened with the Nokia 510 Web Tablet? It did not go on sale. Too advanced for its time, according to some of its managers. Who knows if it would have had good sales if it had been released.

These are just some examples of tablets or tablets that were ahead of their time. Along the way there were many more proposals from manufacturers as well known in other sectors as Palm, the king of PDAs, Intel, BlackBerry or Hewlett Packard among others.


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