The History of the Tablet Computer

With all of the excitement brought on by the Apple iPad, many erroneously believe that tablet computers are a relatively new concept. However, that's far reality! In this article, we will trace the history of the tablet computer as far back as the 1950s, which makes the tablet computer well over 40 years old!

Styalator (1950s)

In the 1950s, there was the Styalator, an electronic tablet with a pen for computer input and real-time software for handwriting recongition. 
RAND Tablet (1964)


RAND tablet (1964)

More popular than the Styalator was the RAND tablet developed in 1964. It had an electronic slate tablet and a pen but cost a whooping $18,000 (see image to the right). 

Dynabook by Alan Kay (1968)

In the late-1960s, the Dynabook was the first fully-functioning tablet computer conceived by computer scientist, Alan Kay. Originally targeted to children and was to be considered a "child's computer," anyone could have utilized the Dynabook.

Below is a Youtube video shows its features, as you can see, it was considered thin, lightweight, utilized a stylus for drawing, had WiFi access (really!?!), along with a built-in keyboard and was powered via  rechargeable batteries.

Just like today's iPad2, the Dynabook also retailed for around $500.


Here are a number of other links of interest, each with its own unique way of outlining the history of the tablet computer:
  • A Brief History of the Tablet Computer by John Pope - read now
  • Pictorial Timeline of Tablet PCs by Huffington Post - view now
  • Timeline of Tablet PC History via Wikipedia - read now
  • The History of the Tablet PC by IGN Gear - read now

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