Newsletter Issue #910: The iPad: Yesterday’s News?

May 8th, 2017

When the iPad debuted in 2010, it arrived with great fanfare. While Microsoft had touted tablets for years, they hadn’t gone anywhere beyond some vertical markets. So I recall that my wife’s former family doctor used them. They came in the form of a perfectly ordinary notebook computer with a touchscreen. But using them was an awkward process, no doubt because of an OS that wasn’t mobile savvy, and apps that required endless taps and swipes to make basic data entries.

Some say that tablets debuted in the 1968 sci-fi classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but they were essentially portable displays, not personal computers. A closer counterpart was the tablet used in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” But the ones used by Captain Picard and crew were mostly information devices, to check status and make simple entries. They weren’t used for basic text entry. The ship’s log and other documents were prepared by dictating to the ship’s onboard computer. So, in a sense, actress Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, as the voice of the Star Trek computer, was the first Siri.

But when Steve Jobs demonstrated the original iPad, he sat there dutifully typing on its touchscreen, boasting that the keyboard was large enough to enter text in comfort. But even his legendary reality distortion field wasn’t sufficient to convince people that typing on glass was better than typing on a real keyboard.

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