Earliest known photos of Apple iPad prototype from early 2000s appear in court filing

“It’s well established that Apple’s iPhone was in the works for a good two years before it became a household name at Macworld 2007, and interestingly enough, the idea to develop a phone in the first place was borne out of Apple’s previous work on tablet prototypes in the early 2000s,” Yoni Heisler reports for iOnApple. “Steve Jobs admitted as much to Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher during an appearance at the 2010 All Things D conference. ‘I’ll tell you a secret. It began with the tablet. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got [rubber band] scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘My God, we can build a phone with this!’ So we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the iPhone.'”

“And now, thanks to some digging through some Apple/Samsung court filings, we also have a better grasp as to when Apple’s work on tablet prototypes began,” Heisler reports. “What’s more, I was able to dig up some photos of one of Apple’s early tablet mockups from the early 2000s.”

Early Apple iPad prototype
Early Apple iPad prototype

Read much more, and see many more photos, in the full article here.

12 Comments

  1. Wow! Remarkably unchanged. Thicker, with thinner bezel (and see how the thin bezel makes it harder for the guy to hold it), but the same rounded corners. No Home button, either. No idea what the software looked like.

  2. What is amazing is that Apple worked on the iPad for so long. Obviously not the hardware as that hasn’t changed that much. But Steve, the perfectionist, waited until iOS was mature, well-baked or at least well on its way through the iPhone development process. And yet other companies think they can just whip something up overnight (in a few months to a year) and have a product that will compete. Instead of doing the difficult work of developing a touch-OS they focus on hardware specs…even the software company known as Microsoft is making that same mistake.

  3. So f-you Judge Posner.

    This stuff takes years, even decades, of R & D to make happen.

    Why isn’t that kind of significant investment protectable through intellectual property rights???

      1. As a programmer I have always felt the software copyrights make more sense. Anybody should be able to try to solve the problems but they should be required to create their own library of code to do it. Designs should be trade marked to keep people from making their solution identical or overly similar.
        BTW, I agree that Judge Posner is an idiot, I just don’t agree that patents are the best solution for software. I hope this doesn’t make me a “mouth breathing human debris”, but then again I really don’t care what you think if you can’t express your thoughts in a clear way. So, tell us, why do you think patents are the best solution for software protection?

  4. “It began with the tablet. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys.”

    Just underscores how irreplaceable Steve might be. Could anyone see Tim Cook randomly coming up with such an idea? A vision pops into the guy’s head and a decade later I’m typing these words with the revolutionary device he dreamed up.

    1. maybe Tim won’t come up with these ideas, his considerable strengths lie elsewhere.

      But I fully trust him to RECOGNIZE these great ideas when any of his many geniuses, cultivated by SJ and Apple, come forward with the next great thing.

      Reconlgnize AND act appropriately.

    2. Lets not forget what Tim did do: he made sure that Apples products could actually be manufactured and sold in volume at a profit.

      That’s a non trivial task. Look how vastly far ahead of every other company that Apple is in terms of profit margins.

  5. Fascinating to look at these images. And this is another reminder of Jobs’s laudable ability to restrain himself and not rush a product idea to market before it reached maturity. Other companies would have salivated over this tech and rushed it out the door in the form of a half-assed, predictably poor product. Jobs had the patience to be able to sit on amazing tech (as excited as he must have been to ponder the possibilities) and let things simmer and marinate until the time became right to get cooking.

  6. 2000: Apple R&D begins work on a touch computer.

    2002: Microsoft releases so called tablet computer.

    2007: iPhone.

    2010: iPad.

    Today: iPod and iPad market. Unless, your IT department is stuck in the Microsoft mold, I meant mode, sorry. 😉

    The story of the decades long innovator vs. the imitator continues on multiple fronts …

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