A History of Tablet Computing

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Portability has long been considered the Holy Grail in computing. For many users, even laptops are much too cumbersome for daily activities and tasks. Many industry leaders have long sought to fill this product void. After several failed attempts to enter this untapped market, a few major players have broken in with a big splash. Amongst these developers, Apple and Android are considered to be the key participants. Each series of tablets offer a variety of customizable features and tools to cater to a vast and ever expanding user base.

Early Origins

tablet computer origins

Tablet PCs have an intriguing origin story. Some sources claim that patents for the first renditions of such a machine date back to the late 19th century. Of course, these machines relied on mechanisms and focused solely on transferring penned movements to a separate written format. While this provides for a great image into the deep roots of the tablet movement, more modern predecessors shared similarities with the powerful operating machines of today’s market.

Long before the best Android tablet or similar competitors claimed the attention of the economy, low tech versions were considered by computer scientists and companies alike. Alan Kay is seen as one of the influential figures in tablet theory. His proposals and outlines detailed a “slate” computer marketed directly for children. With the creation of such a project, Kay expected a revolution in educational practices. Unfortunately his tablet, named the Dynabook, never went into production due to technological limitations after the initial research and publications on the subject were released in 1968.

Stepping Forward

Tablet Computer Stepping Forward

The 1980s and 1990s saw several competitors try again at creating a tablet PC. Apple worked towards a retail ready platform with the Apple Newton line of devices. Later, the popular gaming company Atari offered a variant on the tablet with many relatively high tech features. While this project was demonstrated in open sessions, it never passed the research and development phase. Other major names, including Linux and Intel, would work towards a fully functional tablet PC, but none would have the success of later offerings that took advantage of Android-based services and other platforms.

The Modern Renaissance

The Modern Renaissance

Over recent years, modern tablets have sparked a massive amount of demand from the consumer base. These tablets often allow for highly customizable features and access to a multitude of apps. By using the Android’s “Play” store or other such similar offerings, users can add many services and functionalities to a tablet device. Social networking, businesses services, multimedia features, and many other downloadable programs can all drastically alter a stock tablet.

As far as growth and market share, Android centric devices are currently leading the way. A recent study done by IDC, a tech based information and communications firm, shows that Android tablets claim a share that covers over 56 percent of the market. This growth has been driven heavily by Google’s open approach to working with Android developers. By covering a wide array of devices, users are able to tailor a purchase specifically to their requirements and needs.

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1 Comment

  1. Geo

    June 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Very nice article on the history of tablets! The future definitely looks great for tablet computing!

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