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These days, you can’t swing a dusty old computer mouse without hitting an iPad or some other shiny tablet device. However, this now ubiquitous technology is still relatively new. The days before touch-screens and retina displays were not too long ago. Let’s take a look back at how the tablet has evolved over the last few decades:

Before Their Time

Many of the world’s most life-changing inventions owe their success to timing just as much as to the genius of their conception and design. When it comes to tablet technology, there were those who simply got their too early.

For example, in 1968, a PhD candidate named Alan Kay envisioned a personal, educational computer device aimed at children. His 1972 proposal described the ‘Dynabook’, and its similarities to the modern-day tablet computer are uncanny.

Early PDAs & Tablets

It’s incredible to think of how futuristic the thick, bulky GRiDPad must have seemed after its 1989 launch. Built by the GRiD Systems Corporation, the GRiDPad is considered one of the earliest incarnations of the tablet. It ran MS-DOS, had a 3-hour battery life, featured a 10-inch monochrome screen and rang in at a mind-boggling $2,370 USD.

Other early tablets include: the Tandy Zoomer (1992), the Apple Newton (1993), the PalmPilot (1997), the Microsoft Tablet PC (2000) and the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet (2005).

The Game Changer

Though many had tried, it wasn’t until 2010 that the tablet computer really came to fruition. Apple’s iPad, with its sleek design, user-friendly apps and 9.7-inch touch screen display, was a game changer.

During the period after the initial launch and before the release of the iPad 2, Apple sold over 15 million iPads – by far the largest commercial success of any tablet in history.

All Aboard the Tablet Train

Though the iPad may have signalled a new era of computing, it didn’t monopolise the tablet market for very long. Other tech companies quickly jumped aboard the tablet train. Devices like Samsung’s Galaxy varieties, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Google’s Nexus and, most recently, the Microsoft Surface and Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z, all pose a threat to the iPad’s dominance. Such is the growth of the tablet market that analysts predict a 67.9% increase in tablet sales in 2013, compared to 2012.

So, what does the future hold for tablets? Well, the usual ‘lighter’, ‘faster’, ‘shinier’ adjectives all apply. However, ‘hybrid’  tablet/laptop devices with detachable keyboards are predicted to make a large impact this year. Also on the horizon are more ‘mini’ tablets, particularly the latest iPad mini, which is expected to launch at the end of the year.

Image Credit: pcadvisor


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