Practical Technology

for practical people.

Will tablet computers finally matter?


or all the hype about the rumored Apple Tablet, the ‘will they or won’t they’ about Microsoft’s Courier tablet, and a host of real tablet-announcements such as Lenovo’s IdeaPad U1 and the Dell’s still unnamed slate, everyone seems to have forgotten one tiny, little fact. Tablets have been around forever and they’ve never, ever lived up to their buzz.

For those of you with short-memories, Go Corp., back in 1987 was the first company to really try to get tablet-based computing off the ground. It quickly crashed. Then, in 1993, Apple tried to make a go of pen/tablet-based computing with the Newton. It flopped. In the meantime, Microsoft started toying with the idea of a dedicated tablet in 2000. Guess what happened to all its plans? Yeah, they all pretty much came to nothing too.

The first company to get anywhere with a tablet was Palm with its PDAs (personal digital assistances) in 1996. While they were wildly popular in their day–I still have my own Palm III hiding in my office somewhere–Palm wasn’t able to maintain its momentum and today Palm is just one of many smartphone vendors.

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