As the world mourns the death of Steve Jobs, I also find myself reflecting on all that he has brought to the table. Indeed, his vision has led to profound innovation in the realm of computers, and electronics. Additionally, he can be credited with the creation of the tablet PC market, as we know it. Like it or not, the creation of this market has made many people wealthy, and provided many thousands of others with gainful employment.
I think it would be interesting to find out how many people make a living as a result of the introduction of the iPad. After all, this market is no longer limited to just Apple, but also includes its many competitors. There are the people who design, develop, and manufacture the hardware. Then, there are the sales and promotional people, including those who develop, and manufacture the packaging. Of course, we’d even have to include those who distribute, and deliver the items. Heck, even Let’s Talk Tablets exists because of the introduction of the iPad.
My intention with this article is not to join in the chorus of people singing the praises of Steve Jobs. I’m sure most of our readers are now sick and tired of the subject, including myself. Nevertheless, I still think it is important to acknowledge his contribution to the tech industry, especially in the area of tablet computers.
It may come as a surprise to some that Steve Jobs didn’t invent the tablet PC. In fact, the idea has been around for some time. Most Star Trek television franchises have featured props, which bear a striking similarity to that which we would now call tablet computers. You can see examples of this in an article entitled “Tablet Apps for Speech and Language Pathology (SLP)”. Believe it or not, the roots of the tablet computer go back even further.
What!? How can they go back further than 1960’s Star Trek?
Well… they can, AND by a long shot. In fact, the roots of tablet computers can be traced to over a century ago. According to Wikipedia:
…the first patent for an electronic tablet used for handwriting was granted in 1888. The first patent for a system that recognized handwritten characters by analyzing the handwriting motion was granted in 1915”.
All along the way there have been developments that have brought the technology to where it is today. Also along the way, there have been many failed, and unpopular devices, none of which captured the public interest. One such item would be Apple’s very own Newton, which was released in 1993. Microsoft also attempted and failed with a tablet computer in 2000. However, this product was significant in that it was given the moniker “Microsoft Tablet PC”. The term stuck. Since that time, the term “tablet PC’ has joined the lexicon, and is synonymous with the devices we now know, irrespective of the manufacturer.
In April 2010, Apple unleashed the iPad. In a mere 80 days, three million of the devices were sold. That’s a staggering number. So what was different? In one word, “plenty”.
Arguably, the feature that set the iPad apart was the touch interface. In developing the iPad, Apple paid special attention to the development of the interface. As stated on Wikipedia: “its development is considered a milestone in the history of the development of the tablet computer”. Prior to this, most tablets computers required use of a stylus. The iPad did away with this.
Unlike Microsoft’s previous tablet computer, the iPad worked well, and was almost entirely free of operational bugs. From its beginning, the iPad emphasized versatility, and media consumption, rather than business use. It also brought improvements in areas of quality, battery life, and ease of operation. The improvements didn’t stop there. The iPad was also lighter, and cost less than its forerunners. In short, it was a hit.
The tablet computer is the result of a century of innovation. No one person, or company can be credited with its success, or rise in popularity. That being said, it took someone like Steve jobs to reimagine and redefine the role, and purpose of the tablet computer. Seems to me, he brought together a thousand points of light to create a viable tablet PC market. With Steve Jobs, the tablet computer reached the necessary escape velocity to enter orbit. As a result, I believe they will continue to shine for years to come. In the meantime, we’ll keep you apprised of all aspects relating to tablet PC’s, as they continue to grow, and evolve.
In closing, I want to briefly acknowledge Steve Jobs for his many accomplishments. Thanks to him, we here at Let’s Talk Tablets have the opportunity to inform you all about tablets, and their wonderful innovations. We look forward to keeping you posted, and anxiously await the next great visionary.