The tablet PC is actually a common misunderstood statement. The PC side is technically correct, as a tablet is a Personal Computer, but it has little to do with a desktop PC. There have been tablet devices around for far longer than you may imagine, and even before they hit the marketplace, they were still present on movies and TV shows. But, how has the tablet device evolved over the years?
It didn’t start with Apple
Technically, it did not start with Microsoft either, but they were the first big company to try and make a tablet PC available on the open market.
The fact is that tablet devices have been around since World War 2, when communications devices were made portable and attached to the backs of soldiers for them to carry around. Obviously, these personal computer devices were very different from the devices you see today, but they were the first incarnation of a table device.
The cold war saw tablet devices
Again, it seems that technology appears during war time. The American military started to create portable computers that acted as translators. The British came up with a device that could read Russian writing and translate it into English. Knowing that the Americans now had a massive military budget because they were at war, the British shared the technology in the hopes that the Americans would one day develop it into a smaller and more portable device. The Americans came up with a device that was the size of a typewriter and needed recharging after thirty minutes, but was still a tablet device of sort.
Microsoft attempted to make a tablet PC
Following the great success of Windows, Microsoft had the idea of a portable PC that one could hold in ones hand. The trouble was that the technology of the day was not up to it. They tried to scale down a PC to the size of a tablet, but putting its massive size and heavy weight, it just didn’t work very well. It needed a lot of power and the battery life was very long. Touch screen was a long way away from ever being usable, and it had more bugs than an ant farm in a bees nest.
Along came the iPhone
The iPhone was not the first tablet device, but it was the first proof that portable hand held computing devices were possible and were commercially viable. This is where Apple started to expand the idea. They saw that handheld devices were popular and they proved that touch-screen (albeit basic) was the thing of the future. The success of the iPhone was what kick started the new tablet era.
Was the iPad the first tablet device?
No it was not (as we have covered), but it was the first time that the market saw a marketable handheld computer since the BlackBerry. Is it any small wonder that the launch of the iPad had a dramatic effect on BlackBerry sales, which are still currently circling the drain. The iPad sold very well, even though it was (and is) very expensive.
Unlike the iPhone, the competitors were already in a position to compete with the iPad. Apple held a monopoly on the iPhone for quite a few years, as it was well beyond its time and its success was actually a surprise to many manufactures who thought that Apple was just another company that Microsoft had finally kicked into the dirt. The iPhone competitors were not prepared to compete with the iPhone and spent years playing catch-up. But, the same was not true with the iPad.
How did the iPad differ from past attempts at tablet devices?
The difference is remarkable in its simplicity. Other tablet devices has been developed by stripping down and shrinking a desktop PC down to a tablet size. This is a big task by anybodies standards. The iPad development however, was something quite clever. It was nothing more than an expanded and enlarged iPhone. All they did was create a large iPhone and increase its capacity and function. This was a lot easier than shrinking down a PC, which is why the iPad now sets the standards for all tablet devices; if it is not in competition with the iPad, then it is because it is unable to compete.
Kate Funk is passionate about different technology topics. She coaches individuals in writing and networking skills at tutortop.com .