Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011: A Tablet Computer Odyssey

According to the FOSS Patents Blog, "Samsung cites Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' movie as prior art against iPad design patent". In their motion Samsung are said to have included a still image from Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a clip taken from Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey", showing two astronauts using tablet computers. It is argued this covers what is in the Patent. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a novel of the same name at the same time as working on the film, and it would be interesting to see if the computers are described there, as Clarke is noted for his descriptions of technology.

Of course 2001 is not the only science fiction to feature tablet computers. In 1996 I gave a talk to the Australian Computer Society in which I suggested that by 2005, the Personal Access Display Devices (PADDs) of Star Trek Next Generation would become commonplace:

"... the dimensions of a B5 sheet of paper, by 1 cm thick). PADDs usually have a touch sensitive screen covering the whole upper surface, which is also a high resolution (2000 x 2000 pixel by 16 million colour) screen. All PADDs have video and audio built in and can operate as what a 1996 person would know as a mobile phone, radio, TV and video cam-corder. ...

Variations on pen based writing and voice input were tried for PADDs, but it was found that just a finger pressing buttons displayed on a touch sensitive screen were enough. Most people's writing wasn't good enough for pen input (and they usually just need to select from a few menu options anyway). Voice input works well, but was disruptive in a group and people were too self conscious to talk to a lump of plastic on their own. The QWERTY keyboard, in its virtual form is still in use for data entry. ..."

From: "Australia: The Networked Nation",Tom Worthington, Draft of: 4 February 1996, delivered, 7 February 1996 in the Audio/visual room of the Townsville Grammar School. Republished as the chapter "The Networked Nation", in the book "Net Traveller", 21 July 1999

Senator Helen Coonan, Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, refereed to this talk in the speech "Developing a National ICT Capability" in 2007.

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