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Robert Williams - Where did the idea for the Tablet PC come from?

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Robert Williams is an exec on the Tablet PC team. So, we thought we'd ask him for his version of the influences (and influencers) that brought about the Tablet PC.

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  • Good story. Thanks for sharing it!
  • Another interesting note is that one of the earliest ‘Tablet’ concept designs was created in 1988 by the University of Illinois.

     

    Two things worth noting is firstly the title “Personal computer of the year 2000” which was pretty spot on, and the other is that Apple Computers picked this idea as the grand winner in a contest they ran. Although it seems that years later, its the techies at Microsoft that really took on the challenge..

     

    Extract from report “Personal computer of the year 2000”.

    “Apple Computer, Inc. sponsored a contest last September at a dozen universities across the country to design the personal computer of the year 2000. The rules were simple: describe the computer’s purpose, predict the technologies that will be available at that time, and how to use them. The participants were judged on both original thought and how well they illustrated the workability of that thought.

     

    Nearly 1,000 students in teams of up to five entered designs; five teams were chosen as finalists and flown to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California for the final judging on January 28, 1988. The distinguished panel of judges included Ray Bradbury, Alan Kay, Diane Ravitch, Alvin Toffler, and Stephen Wozniak.

    .. the winning entry was the design of a TABLET based on the humble paper notebook.”

     

     

    Reference Details:

    Communications of the ACM

    Volume 31,  Issue 6  (June 1988)

    Pages: 638 - 648  

    Year of Publication: 1988

    ISSN:0001-0782

  • jjjj J.J.
    How about Anoto technology? it seems things returns to paper again. why? specialy when everything becomes more and more digital.
    Why return to paper when there are so many digital solution in hand. digital solution makes paper obsoliet, yes?

    What are the ideas about the future of the Anoto technology?

    Jelle
  • Jelle - carbon copy helped us make duplicate copies of pieces of paper, Xerox machines were an improvement over mimeograph, typing a document on a computer was the next step for improving efficiency of creating multiples and storage and yet we still use tons of paper Smiley So, what do we use that paper for? Forms, notes, drawings, sketches, brainstorming, and many other "parts of processes". Adding a pen to a computer is one way of capturing that ink information and allowing us to store, search, and create more copies / distribute or change when needed.

    Pen technology, or digital pens like Anoto technology, take a different approach. Yes, they compete with basic things like entering a date into Outlook. It is also a secondary product - an after market product. The capabilities of these digital pens has caught consumer attention, yet has not had as great an impact as ink capabilities throughout the PC operating system as Windows XP Tablet PC Edition has.

    Will one displace the other? Right now Tablet PCs are in the lead in terms of breadth of capabilities. Potentially, digital pens could compete more directly, but they are in another league right now. Perhaps in the future we might see a different level of convergence between the design approaches.
  • sbcsbc GW R/Me
    It's interesting that Apple is falling behind in PC related technology. The fact that the iPod outsells the PC's they sell illustrates this fact.

    Apple seems to putting more effort into iPod than anything else. I wonder what will happen when people go off iPods - which they probably will as cheaper alternatives will come out (likely to be based on Microsoft technology).

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