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1979 Apple Graphics Tablet vs. the iPad

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the silly-comparisons-are-the-best-kind dept.

Graphics 81

CWmike writes "When Apple launched the iPad earlier this year, it was the culmination of fans' long wait for the company to enter the tablet market. There's no doubt the iPad is a revolutionary device. But in 1979, an earlier generation of Apple users used a different kind of Apple tablet, back when the word meant something else entirely, writes Ken Gagne. The Apple Graphics Tablet was designed by Summagraphics and sold by Apple Computer for the Apple II personal microcomputer. (Summagraphics also marketed the device for other platforms as the BitPad.) To be clear, this tablet was not a stand-alone computing device like the iPad. Instead, it was an input device for creating images on the Apple II's screen, and it predated the Apple II's mouse by six years. Apple II fan Tony Diaz had an Apple Graphics Tablet on hand at last month's KansasFest, an annual convention for diehard Apple II users. He and Gagne, the event's marketing director, compared and contrasted Apple's original tablet with the iPad, snapping photos as they went." The contrived comparison is as silly as it sounds — but it's a fine excuse to look at some ahead-of-its-time gear, even in the form of an annoying slide show.

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81 comments

Poor comparison (5, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249450)

Why compare the AGT to the iPad? Pretty much the only things they have in common is a touch sensitive surface. It's closer in function to a Wacom.

Re:Poor comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249468)

I don't think it was even touch sensitive. Graphics pads back then used some sort of stylus with a pickup coil for an RF field generated by the tablet, I believe.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33251690)

In TFA, they mention the first version created interference on TVs, so they were RF, kinda like the Summasketch tablets used for AutoCAD in the late '80s/early '90s (you could see the coil in the *mouse*)

Re:Poor comparison (2, Informative)

geogob (569250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249522)

If you read TFA, you would notice that they do not really compare the functionality, but rather design, packaging, interfacing, etc. I believe it is more a comparison of Apple 1979 vs Apple 2010 than AGT vs iPad.

And interesting device comparison to do both for the aspects compared here and for functionality aspects would be the Apple Newton Message Pad 2000 series against the iPad. It has been compared to the iPhone quite a few times, and probably already to the iPad to. (I think that an iPad comparison is more fair to the MP2000 than to the iPhone).

Re:Poor comparison (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249776)

If you read TFA, you would notice that they do not really compare the functionality, but rather design, packaging, interfacing, etc.

That is probably a good choice. I have the feeling that Apple's customers value those things higher than functionality.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33251578)

Name one Apple product that failed at its core functionality recent memory. Just one.

Re:Poor comparison (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33251602)

The problem with this kind of rhetoric is that Apple redefines "core functionality" until it's pretty meaningless. They redefine "core functionality" so that it excludes things that even a 1979 Apple was capable of doing. That's why "geeks" give the new Apple so much grief. They have UNNECESSARILY castrated technology in the name of consumer accessability.

They're like the anti-Apple when compared to 1979.

Re:Poor comparison (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33253710)

Also, when something fizzles, lately it becomes suddenly "just a hobby from the start" (vide Apple TV)

Re:Poor comparison (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263726)

Also, when something fizzles, lately it becomes suddenly "just a hobby from the start" (vide Apple TV)

Funny enough, it's fizzled so badly enough that most other companies would've killed it long ago as well. Fact is, Apple's still keeping it around for whatever reason, investing money into it. I'm sure the other products the fizzled don't get extended lifetimes as much as AppleTV does. Even considering it's supposed to be replaced, Apple's still pouring money into it.

I'm guessing there's a reason for that investment. So calling it a hobby would be right - Apple's pretty sure they need AppleTV, but they're not sure what. Otherwise, it would've been killed. (And considering all the hacks, they certainly aren't cracking down on it...)

Re:Poor comparison (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33269092)

Yeah, I never really understood the idea behind the Apple TV. It's like some hybrid media server/DVR/iTunes/whatever. It has no focus, really, especially with only a 160GB drive.

I'm guessing they're working on some new, very improved version that has a strong focus in at least one of the areas. If not, just cut the thing.

Re:Poor comparison (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33252186)

From what I've heard, the latest iPhone fails at being phone, depending on how you hold it.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

bitten (200145) | more than 3 years ago | (#33255772)

Just as a side note.
In my opinion design and interfacing are part of the functionality - which is an aspect that
many feature ridden products neglect - and which is an area where apple is a leader.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250464)

There's been an ad comparison which is almost shot for shot, word for word identical. Not that it stopped me from getting one.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250850)

If you read TFA...

It would be even more useful if the /. article posters actually RTFA before posting.

Re:Poor comparison (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33254412)

A better comparison to the iPad is the Modbook [axiotron.com] . Axiotron, who makes them, took real MacBooks and replaced the lid/monitor with a Wacom tablet. As such they run OS X 10.6 or Snow Leopard not iOS or whatever.

Falcon

Seeing these photos reminded me... (4, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249470)

The iPad(TM) is really boring.

Boring like minimalist music. Boring like Gregorian chant. Beautiful, and fascinating for its exploration of something more distinct in a single tone - but boring like an appliance.

But is it art? ;^)

Ryan Fenton

Antique Oil Paintings (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249602)

There's certainly a lot to know about this. Antique Oil Paintings [oilpaintin...estore.com] I consider you produced some fine factors in Features also.thank

Re:Seeing these photos reminded me... (2, Funny)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249834)

Needs flash and a webcam stuck on a long usb cord. Then it would be boring and functional -a true appliance for the 21st century.

Ahead of its time? (4, Interesting)

Alien1024 (1742918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249490)

Hardly. Digitizing tables date back to the 1950s.

Re:Ahead of its time? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249566)

All lies!
You're forgetting "There's no doubt the iPad is a revolutionary device"!
Clearly Apple invented tablets back then, and now again with the iPad.
There never has been a similar device to anything before Apple produced it!

Re:Ahead of its time? (2, Insightful)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249732)

Hardly. Digitizing tables date back to the 1950s.

How many consumer digitizing tablets were available back in the 1950s?

Re:Ahead of its time? (2, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250126)

Ouuu! I smell a potential patent: it's a consumer digitizing tablet! Like, totally different, boyo!

Re:Ahead of its time? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250590)

Nice sarcasm, but yes a consumer device is different from a professional device. Nobody had VTRs or VCRs in their home in the 1950s and 60s, even though they did exist at the time. The first VCR that people could actually afford was Betamax in 1975. And later Sony released the Betacam VCR which was aimed solely at pro level.

Likewise the earliest digitizing tablet that people could afford to bring home would probably be the Apple Tablet, just as Apple II was the first consumer-level computer. (Although not the most popular - the number one machine at the time was Radio Shack's TRS-80.)

"The first commercially available tablet-type portable computer [i.e. iPad like] was the GRiDPad from GRiD Systems, released in September. Its operating system was based on MS-DOS." - wikipedia

Re:Ahead of its time? (1)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249920)

You must remember that before Jobs helped found Apple, he snuck out of his crib to invent touch interfaces (long before anyone else had a chance). I hear he even invented the transistor.

Re:Ahead of its time? (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250920)

Digitizing tables date back to the 1950s

Analog tablets go back to pre-Moses.

Apple has been around for 3+ decades, a fascinating change in computing.

As a PC user I look occasionally at why to use a Mac but the one button mouse and high prices keep turning me to the competition. However, bundle an iPad, with a stylus that uses a button for right clicking, in a Mac deal so a user has the alternative of handwriting and touch input via Bluetooth or LAN as well as a portable subcomputer away from the desk, and Mac sales may go nuts. Heck, somebody make an iPad or lightweight tablet do this for a PC.

Re:Ahead of its time? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33254552)

As a PC user I look occasionally at why to use a Mac but the one button mouse and high prices keep turning me to the competition

Apple's Magic Mouse [apple.com] is a 2 button mouse. Or third party mice can be used. Next to the MacBook Pro I'm typing this on I have a Logitech Trackman Trackball with 2 buttons and a wheel. I also keep a second one in the bag. However I can also simulate 2 buttons, just as I did when I used Windows. Just as holding down the alt/opt or CTRL key when clicking the mouse with Windows and Linux, I do the same on my Mac. In Firefox and Safari holding down the apple key when clicking a link opens it in a new tab. If I hold down the ctrl instead a menu pops up giving me different options.

As for price, 1999 calling, it wants its mime back. Mac prices are comparable to Windows PC prices. Starting with Macs first though, Apple does not offer the range of computers Windows and Linux PC OEMs offer. Before I ever got my Mac I compared different Mac and PC OEM configurations and prices. Mac prices were within the price range of different Windows PC prices. Actually Dell and HP laptops with similar configurations cost about $200 more than the MacBook Pro I got.

Falcon

Re:Ahead of its time? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#33263888)

As a PC user I look occasionally at why to use a Mac but the one button mouse and high prices keep turning me to the competition. However, bundle an iPad, with a stylus that uses a button for right clicking, in a Mac deal so a user has the alternative of handwriting and touch input via Bluetooth or LAN as well as a portable subcomputer away from the desk, and Mac sales may go nuts. Heck, somebody make an iPad or lightweight tablet do this for a PC.

That one-button mouse pretty much ensures that apps are designed to not hide stuff in right-click menus. Your second sentence pretty much illustrates why Windows 7 tablets are annoying to use - a substantial amount of crap is hidden in a right-click menu. Hell, Windows 7 itself hides a lot of functionality - right click, shift-right-click, and possibly alt-right-click can pop up different menu items. (I believe shift-right-click holds a hidden "Open command prompt here" command). So now you really need a fourth mouse button to handle the alternate right-clicks.

It's also why Apple re-did the UI framework for the iPhone and iPad - touch has a different set of semantics than using a mouse - you don't have access to things like "hover" (mouse over), drags are a lot harder to do, and you especially lose the "right click". People have tried to come up with solutions - some involving a modifier key held down and a tap, others is a tap-and-hold, multi-button stylii, but it's compensating for the fact that people have hidden functionality inside right-clicking.

Finally, the single-button mouse encourages devs to actually pay attention to UI design because hiding functionality inside right-clicking is discouraged. At the very minimum the contents of the right-click menu should be accessible elsewhere (usually in the main menu). This does make OS X more touch-friendly, but there's still the missing semantics that make it less than idea as a touchscreen OS (lack of hover means tooltips aren't shown, so cryptic toolbar icons have to be modified somehow).

So let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249512)

Apple had a crude input device made for them in 1979 that was called a "tablet" because its shape resembled... um, a tablet. Coincidentally, Apple recently introduced a mobile computing device that is also tablet-shaped.

Slow news day, eh?

Re:So let me get this straight... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249530)

Slow news day, eh?

The news is just a thin disguise for the Apple commercial...

No, it means... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249748)

No, what it means is that the Acolyte Tony Diaz has re-discovered a precious holy relic from the hallowed First Golden Era of the God-Emperor Steve Jobs, (May the Holy Kidney Protect Him). Such a relic proves the Divine authenticity of the Miracle of iPad and serves as a reminder of the omniscience of the God-Emperor Steve Jobs, (May the Holy Kidney Protect Him).

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249794)

No excuse is too flimsy for Slashdot to post iNews and Apple advertisements.

Relation? (4, Insightful)

bart416 (900487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249514)

And these two are related how?

Re:Relation? (2, Insightful)

txoof (553270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249800)

Ugg, and there's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back. I thought that I was going to learn something, or perhaps gain some insight into the design process and it's consistency over decades of products. Alas, Computer World shows us once again that all they can write is poorly reported fluff [slashdot.org] . The article just a bunch of straws grasped at in desperation of imitating journalism.

Re:Relation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33250230)

And these two are related how?

Like Zorro's sword and a Rapidograph pen.

Re:Relation? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250808)

They're both mentioned in the article. And now Halloween is also related, since it's mentioned in the discussion of the summary of the article. And the number 9!

subby is an idiot (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249516)

"back when the word meant something else entirely"

Uhh-- a graphics tablet was so named because it vaguely resembled a stone tablet. A tablet PC was so named because it uses an input pen like a graphics tablet and you can write on the screen.

The word still means the same thing, at least since the advent of graphics tablets. Just because you're not necessarily drawing pictures with the pen doesn't mean its not a graphics tablet built into a pc.

I could not care less about the iPad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249536)

And I'm sure many other slashdotters hate the device. So I'm going to talk about my Android Tablet.
Sadly it looks exactly like an iPad but considering how bad Chinese techis are at making something look decent I suppose I can settle for them cloning something they already know looks good. When I say looks exactly I mean it really does, with the exception of having two usb ports 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD port it really does look exactly alike, plus it has a aluminum.
I had to troubleshoot some nasty bugs, high pitched whine, tilted screen and while it has a accereromitor the chinese devs configured to function really weird, it only goes to portiat mode when the device is upside down, I quess thats for laying down.
But all can be forgiven considering how cheap the thing is, plus I've always wanted to try my hand at programming for android but I don't need a smartphone.
Perhaps the only thing I like about the iPad is how it has sparked a ton of Chinese manufacturers to become device makers in their own right. Many of them may be dependent on Apple's formfactor but beyond that they're building some fine cheap systems.

Re:I could not care less about the iPad. (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33251256)

I think you just made a pitch for the iPad. The nice thing about Apple products in general is that they work right out of the box without any fiddling around.

Beyond that, kudos to you for getting the grammar of your subject line correct.

Giant Meh (0, Flamebait)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249554)

I'd say the iPad is more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary". The only difference between it and similar devices that predated it is that it's backed by Apple's marketing machine and a truck-load of cash, gold and jewels.
As for the article at hand... a tiny, tiny giant Meh from me -- you can even compare it to the stone tablets of the ancient Greeks, if you are so inclined.

Re:Giant Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249688)

I'd say the iPad is more "evolutionary" than "revolutionary". The only difference between it and similar devices that predated it is that it's backed by Apple's marketing machine and a truck-load of cash, gold and jewels.

Don't discount the iPad's big selling point - it's is fun to use, rather than painful. That sets it apart from all the previous devices.

Mindshare (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249576)

Another day another apple slashvert. How very fucking tedious.

We can make it fun (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249958)

Another day another apple slashvert. How very fucking tedious.

It doesn't have to be. We can have fun with this.

I don't know, even days we just pick on fanbois - although, that's been getting a bit boring too. But there's still room for creativity like; "Ha ha fanbois! You're now mainstream and you aren't so different or rebellious anymore!"

Or "Hey fanbois! Like Jobs says, 'You have a computing appliance'. What's it like to have an expensive toaster?! When are you going to get your Apple branded microwave the .....iWave?"

On the odd days, we can pick on the F/oSS guys. "Hey guys! Apple has this and they were PAID to do it because they hate it! Why can't you guys do something better out of love?! Huh?!" Or

"Pfffft! F/oSS guys! Apple took BSD and look what they did! And you guys are wasting your time with outdoing MS? Apple did their own thing and look at them!"

And then, every Tuesday of Months were the temperature rises above 90 in Anchorage, we defend MS and say how MS did do things better than Apple here and there. - I'm not creative enough for those examples, so your on your own coming up with those.

So there you go.

YEs! fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249704)

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Hardly an apples to apples comparison (2, Insightful)

rcb1974 (654474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249746)

I read the article. There isn't much overlap between the two devices in terms of functionality.

so why don't they make them anymore? (4, Interesting)

apricotmuffins (950235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249818)

And yet, apple didnt expand on the graphics tablets and now another company (wacom) holds the industry standard and specialises in input devices for artists and graphic designers. I don't deny apple's innovation here, I just am curious as to how that came about.

Re:so why don't they make them anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249840)

There have been others. I remember koala being popular on c64s.

Re:so why don't they make them anymore? (1)

ZX-3 (745525) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250960)

The KoalaPad was also available for Apple. I had one for my Apple ][+. It plugged into the game controller port and came with a pretty decent paint program.

Re:so why don't they make them anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33252036)

The answer to your question is niche market.

When Apple was a hacker company (2, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33249956)

Back in 1979, Apple was a hacker company, breaking new ground.

Now they're a boutique. Their products aren't technological innovations, but re-use of existing technology in more comfy or trendy ways.

What computer science breakthroughs occurred with the mp3 player, or tablet?

With comfy/trendy products, you buy status symbols for conspicuous consumption. "Who are you better than?" is the eternal question of the fearful, and buying an iPad makes you for at least six weeks seem a lot cooler than your neighbor without one.

Re:When Apple was a hacker company (1)

boreddotter (1836042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33253344)

it's amazing how humans take the actions of a few and generalise them then label the majority, we do it with everything from religion to computers! I'm not immune to this, but I find it's a little sad, it spreads hate and ignorance, by not trying to better understand the other side and stereotyping them.

With comfy/trendy products, (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 3 years ago | (#33254654)

you buy status symbols for conspicuous consumption.

I don't know about other Apple hardware, and don't care, but Macs are more than just that. Mac hardware is better than typical PC hardware. And up until Windows 7 OSX was clearly more stable and usable than MS OSes.

Falcon

Re:With comfy/trendy products, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33255618)

Mac hardware is exactly the same as PC hardware, dumbshit. It's Intel CPUs on Intel motherboards with Intel chipsets and nVidia or ATI discrete graphics.

Compare to something similar at least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33249978)

If you're making a comparison(not that this even remotely is) wouldn't the Newton be a more resonable one?

What I did find interesting - the toolbar (1)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250024)

The comparison was kind of silly, but one thing I did find interesting: The use of a "toolbar" on top of the 1979 graphics tablet (pg 5 in the article) - much like most paint programs and many other apps of the last 20+ years that have had a graphical interface. Somebody said graphical tablets were around long before 1979, did any use such a convention?

Flying time (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250032)

Depressingly I remember the AGT from when it was new. Used one at a computer fair when I was 12 in amazed mode.

I remember these. (1)

JPMallory (1318445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250106)

We were taught how to use them in my jr high computer class. (20 years ago) The program I used had a few pre-built shapes (circles, rectangles, lines, etc) that you create via the tablet. Of course, I didn't realize it then, but apparently that class has prepared me to use the iPad.

Someone else still wishes it was 1979. (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250242)

The fashion sense of the presenter in those photos, with the ring and huge gold bracelet. Surprised the medallion didn't get in the way.

Before the tablet (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250254)

Tablets are new-fangled compared to the pantograph [wikipedia.org] , a scissor/accordian linkage mechanism that digitized pen position by means of two potentiometers. I am unable to find a trace of the third-party commercial one for the Atari 8-bit on the Internet, but this research [adeptnordic.com] one will give you some idea -- except the one for the Atari was 2 DOF, was an input device only (no robotics or force feedback) and actually more closely resembled the classic Renaissance pantograph from the Wikipedia link. Recall that the Atari 8-bit had eight "paddle controller inputs" that were essentially slow 8-bit A/Ds -- two of these were used to encode position where the software would convert the pantograph arm angles indicated by the potentiometers into a 2D location.

Actually, it would be more correct to say that the pantograph was the predecessor to the scanner rather than to the tablet, since due to its clunkiness the purpose of the pantograph was to copy from a piece of paper rather than to create something new on a piece of paper. Even into the early 1990's, flatbed scanners were $5,000.

Apples to Orange Juice (1)

ogfomk (677034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250388)

OK, a digitizer and the iPad both have a rectangular surface and they have cables. On that note let us compare the roof of a 67 Chevy to a shark fin.

Nostalgia (1)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250446)

I actually had an AGT, back when I was a little kid and an Apple was actually an appropriate computer for me. Then I turned 7, and learned to use a PC.

Seriously, though... I don't recall ever really using the AGT for much, except maybe once or twice just to see what it did (my parents probably actually got it for my older brother, but I doubt he did either.) It was really just a high-tech toy without much practical application, so maybe the comparison isn't so bad after all.

I think it was fun to see the comparison, I grant that touch technology has been around even longer, but it was still an interesting experience to be recalled to that old device and think whether I ever would have predicted this new one.

Re:Nostalgia (1)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 3 years ago | (#33288920)

Rock star/programmer Todd Rundgren wrote a paint program for this thing called the Utopia Graphics System. It was advertised in the first Apple catalog, but I don't know if it was ever available as a commercial product. Anyone remember it?

Number Munchers? (1)

Rabbidous (1844966) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250620)

FTS- "KansasFest, an annual convention for diehard Apple II users." I am now a college graduate. Last time a saw an Apple II being USED was in kindergarten. Ever since then, computers have just gotten more useful. I'm being slightly facetious and maybe a little ignorant, but what do they do at this conference? Play number munchers?

See for yourself (1)

kgagne (983841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33252758)

The full session schedule [kansasfest.org] is available online.

Some of the presentation's titles: "Magic with Macrosoft: Machine Language Speed for Applesoft Programmers"; "Apple's Growing Divide Between Users and Programmers"; "How to Use Your Apple II as a Dumb Terminal for Mac OS X"; "73H 0r3g0n 7r41L Game Mod"; "Apple III: A Closer Look".

The HackFest programming competition is especially cool.

Memories (2, Interesting)

bloobamator (939353) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250708)

Decades ago I wrote a map digitizing app for the Mac II and that tablet, which in the mid-eighties I think had been rebranded as the MacTablet. I used LightSpeed Pascal (I was still in college.) It was cool. I even added a logarithmic feature for contour maps. The app would draw a picture of what you were tracing, inside a small window, while it streamed the digitized coordinates to another small window. Because I built it for engineers to use, it also had a recalibration feature during which the app auto-calculates the map scale. It let you save the image as a bitmap file, and you could spool the coordinate stream to a flat file.

That was back when I rocked.

Perq used it also (2, Informative)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#33250756)

The Summagraphics Bitpad was used as the graphical input device for the Perq. Rather than run a silly paint program, it allowed us to use the Perq as a CAD workstation to design the Perq II. Prior to that time most schematics were drawn on paper and netlists generated by hand. Graphical design saved countless hours and mistakes.

The Bitpad was fantastic compared to some of the other input devices [wikipedia.org] of the day.

Newton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33250926)

appel's first user tool was the Newton.

i laugh at iphone/pod people, i still own my newton,
kinda hard to get support for it at mac.stores.

iPad as a tablet?? (1)

multatuli (740516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33261864)

The comparison got me wondering ... would an App that lets you use the iPad as a tablet device to a Mac (or any other OS) be worth developing? Is it already out there?
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