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Meet The Man Who Designed a Tablet Computer 15 Years Before the iPad

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the flat-and-functional dept.

Patents 374

Doofus writes "The Washington Post has a profile of Roger Fidler, who 'invented' the tablet computer in the 1990s, while working as a visionary for newspaper firm Knight-Ridder. He is now embroiled in the Apple/Samsung legal war, as an expert witness. Fidler admits that other prior art influenced him, such as the tablets being used as computing devices in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior prior art."

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Knight-Ridder (5, Funny)

Nick Fel (1320709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313749)

They also invented talking cars.

Re:Knight-Ridder (2)

philip.paradis (2580427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313811)

Yep, as soon as I read the summary, I got this little tune [youtube.com] stuck in my head. Now everybody else can, too!

iPad (4, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313775)

What does the iPad have to do with it? There were commercial, mass-produced, tablets way before the first iPad.
I would think, either this guy owns tablet tech and has been making money of it for decades or has missed his chance.

Re:iPad (4, Informative)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313817)

This is ALL about the iPad. Apple is claiming that they own the patent and/or copyright to a rectangular tablet with a screen on the front -- all of 'em. Especially Samsung's, because they look similar. Their position is that nobody else ever before thought of or created anything like the iPad, and hence, everything else is a copy of the iPad.

Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on, and that this has gone on so long is an embarrassment.

Re:iPad (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313879)

Apple has never claimed that they invented the tablet. They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs. Notice that they have not sued others for design patents and they are specifically suing Samsung for certain models. As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out. They cannot say to a judge "Well look at it, it looks like our product."

Re:iPad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314001)

They are suing Samsung because they think or thought they could win. Generally in cases like this the company sues someone they think they can win and then use that case to set a legal precedent. They then take that precedent and threaten other companies with it. It has nothing to do with believing in the next guy and only protecting their patents. Its all about protecting their monopoly and profits.

Re:iPad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314083)

They are suing Samsung because they think or thought they could win.

I thought they were suing Samsung even though they know that it's a giant waste of money and they have no chance of winning, because that's what corporations do.</sarcasm>

Re:iPad (0)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314113)

You see, we know we don't have to take anything you say seriously because you assert that Apple has a "monopoly" in the tablet space with a straight face.

Re:iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314163)

Yep spoken like a true iFanboy. You disregarded everything I said and just looked for something that appealed to what you wanted to hear. Kind of like some of the iProduct reviews.

Good luck to you in that walled garden of a world you live in.

Re:iPad (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314225)

You see, we know we don't have to take anything you say seriously because you use the phrase "iFanboy" with a straight face.

Try making an argument that has substance, and maybe you won't be dismissed as a crank.

Re:iPad (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314691)

They are suing Samsung because they think or thought they could win. Generally in cases like this the company sues someone they think they can win and then use that case to set a legal precedent. They then take that precedent and threaten other companies with it. It has nothing to do with believing in the next guy and only protecting their patents. Its all about protecting their profits.

Re:iPad (5, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314721)

Their argument does have substance if you ignore the rhetoric. They even impolitely told you to do as such. Real life is not a true/false statement where if one part of the sentence is false, the rest must be, and thus invalidates their entire point. In case you wish to not look past their rhetoric their point is:

Apple is suing Samsung to set a precedent where if they win, it gives the ability to go after other manufacturers who have similar designs and demand licensing fees with a threat of a lawsuit if those companies don't pay for the licensing fee.

Apple never has been, nor will they ever be the only company to do this. IMO, any company who does this is run by jerks. I realize companies exist to maintain profit for their shareholders, but that doesn't mean you have to be a jerk at every opportunity.

Re:iPad (0, Redundant)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314155)

> They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs.

Like the summary said. 2001: A Space Oddessy beat them both by about 40 years. Apple's "design patent" is even mor e absurd than their other patents and a lot of those are total rubbish to begin with.

Re:iPad (5, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314161)

As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out.

No, no they don't. Design patents are illustrative, not descriptive. And it's very hard to think of anything this design patent shows that isn't "rectangular. round corners": USD627777S1 [scribd.com]

Re:iPad (3, Insightful)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314187)

Apple has never claimed that they invented the tablet. They claim they own the design patents of their tablet in that Samsung's phones and tablet looks too much like theirs.

Have you even seen the 1990's video [youtube.com] ? Nobody is disputing that tablets have been around for a long time, but when you see what Fidler's design looks like I can't see how Apple's case has any merit. Both black, flat, rounded-rectangles with a touchscreen that covers substantially the whole front of the device. Where's the novelty in Apple's design then?

Notice that they have not sued others for design patents and they are specifically suing Samsung for certain models.

This is how all patent trolls work. It is more about legal strategy than anything else. If you want to win a battle you stand a better chance if you don't have to fight on multiple fronts, so you pick one enemy to fight at once. Apple deemed them to be the biggest competitive threat--they had more success than any other non-Apple device on the market. Microsoft takes a slightly different approach and picks their battles based upon a candidates resolve and resources to fight vs. settle--a bit of a different strategy but they've been able to use the protection money they've shaken down phone companies for to keep their own platform afloat. Perhaps since Samsung had a supplier relationship with Apple that Jobs and Co. overestimated Samsung's willingness to settle/cooperate. I don't know exactly.

In any case it isn't about Samsing being more of a copycat in any significant way. If that was all it was about why not pick the Motorola Xoom or the HTC Jetstream to put the smackdown on? They all folllow the same design pattern--one thought up by some Knight-Ridder researcher in the mid 1990s.

As for the rectangular tablet thing, Apple like any claimant must describe in detail every single aspect in legalese. The rectangular tablet is one of the many details they had to spell out. They cannot say to a judge "Well look at it, it looks like our product."

It is flat, rectangular with rounded corners and a screen that fills up the front face. There is a limit on how much more detailed you can get. The screen ratio isn't especially unique, and its exact dimensions do differ from the Samsung and other products out there to varying degrees already. Buttons on the devices are in differing locations, they do not have any user-servicable parts that can be interchanged between the products and so on. Seems that as similar looking as tablets all are there isn't a case for Apple here.

I do believe Apple has a fantastic product in the iPad, but it is time for them to stop with the legal shenanigans and compete on the merits of their product. It is bad enough that Apple is being a patent troll. It is ovee the top coming from a company founded by a man who's mantra was "good artists copy, great artists steal".

Re:iPad (4, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314701)

You do sound angry and really have little clue.

Both black, flat, rounded-rectangles with a touchscreen that covers substantially the whole front of the device. Where's the novelty in Apple's design then

In the rest of the patent claims?

This is how all patent trolls work.

You have no clue what patent trolls are. Patent trolls *do not* implements their own patents. They sue to make money, no to protect their IP (however ridiculous the IP).

It is more about legal strategy than anything else.

No it's not. They sued Sammy because Sammy if *dumb fuck stupid* enough to dive in and make devices that actually infringe patents that *Steve Jobs* himself swore he would protect right on the 2007 keynote stage while announcing the first iPhone. "And boy, have we patented it." were his own words. Seriously, he said that on stage to the whole world.

And only one company is stupid enough to design a device that *is* just a copycat in enough ways to actually infringe on one of those patents.

there isn't a case for Apple here

Apparently, at least one german judge disagreed with you. So clearly you have no clue of how the German legal system work. A German judge *is* at a better place than you to assert such a statement, and he did.

Does Apple plays a smart game here? All bets are off. But they were very straightforward about their strategy, publicly, a long time ago.

Re:iPad (3, Funny)

mspohr (589790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314677)

Apple invented rounded corners!
Apple OWNS rounded corners!
No one else can make a tablet with rounded corners!
Steve is a (rounded corner) genius!

Re:iPad (5, Interesting)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313939)

Not sure why that was rated informative, when it completely misstates Apple's legal position. When Samsung's lawyers couldn't tell the devices apart in court, there's a problem of trade dress, which is basically the IP equivalent of fraud.

Samsung should show this image in court (3, Informative)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314157)

'nuff said. [wikimedia.org]

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314219)

Probably because I'm fucking right here, and you're an Apple apologist.

Just sayin.

Samsung doesn't have their plugs and button/s in the same place as the iPad, and thus, it's not a copy.

What's that? It looks similar?

EVERY FUCKING LCD MONITOR IS A BLACK RECTANGLE WITH ROUNDED CORNERS AND A DISPLAY ON THE FRONT. If you remove variations in their stands, they all look identical.

You can point out differences in where they locate their power button, or any sort of port -- but that's just reinforcing my point, as Samsung has done just that. Samsung's tablet is just as different from an iPad as an Apple LCD monitor is different from an LG monitor.

Of course, under the design patent granted to Apple, they ARE within their legal rights to file suit.
the problem was that the design patent should never have been granted, as it was overly broad. they basically created a cylindrical bottle with a cap on the top and are now saying that anyone who wants to sell bottled drinks has to use a non-cylindrical shape. that's fucking obnoxious, and Apple should rightfully be raked over the coals for it.

If this was Microsoft, and not Apple, I somehow doubt anyone would be defending their position.

Re:iPad (2)

murphtall (1979734) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314321)

Probably because I'm fucking right here

why would that be relevant?

Re:iPad (0)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314763)

"Samsung doesn't have their plugs and button/s in the same place as the iPad, and thus, it's not a copy."

I'm legally fucking BLIND without my glasses and even I can barely tell the difference between this [bwone.com] and an Ipod. That's including the BOX AND THE DEVICE.

Re:iPad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313951)

What's embarrassing is that you, and people like you, continue to perpetuate the idiotic notion that these cases are only about a rectangle with rounded edges. As another person has mentioned Apple are suing specific manufacturers over specific models, not every tablet manufacturer. But I bet you already know this, it just doesn't fit your narrow worldview where everything Apple does is wrong, and they are just a big bully beating up on the little kid (despite the fact that companies like Samsung are huge in their own right).

Re:iPad (4, Informative)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314003)

Apple is claiming that they own the patent and/or copyright to a rectangular tablet with a screen on the front

Except that's not what they've claimed at all. They have a specific "design patent" on a specific design, look, packaging for a specific device. And when somebody (ESPECIALLY SAMSUNG) copies that design in extreme detail, Apple alleges in court that Samsung has infringed on its design patent.

Their position is that "Samsung, specifically, is using a suite of design cues covered by our patent to make their tablets look like knockoffs of ours - confusing customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device."

You might try understanding the legal issues before you spout off about them - whether or not you agree with Apple's arguments that the devices are "too similar," or with the idea of design patents in general, misrepresenting the actual facts of the case just makes you look rather slow and dim-witted. Do try to keep up.

Re:iPad (2)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314151)

What I'd like to know is how they could confuse customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device when "Samsung" is printed on the device and the box it comes in.

Re:iPad (2)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314189)

Are these the same customers who download Bouncing Bunnies and then express disbelief that their system has a virus?

Re:iPad (4, Interesting)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314211)

What I'd like to know is how Samsung's lawyers could be unable to tell the difference [reuters.com] between an Apple and a Samsung product from ten feet away, yet you assume that the casual viewer will totally know the difference.

If the only way you can tell between an "authentic" Louis Vuitton purse and a $10 streetcorner bargain made by "Louise Vitton" is through close inspection of the packaging, labels, and finish, then you have produced what is commonly known as a "knockoff." And that's precisely what Apple has alleged - that Samsung's new tablet "slavishly" copies their design so that only a close inspection will allow you to tell the two apart.

Again, you can certainly argue whether or not design patents should be allowed, and you can certainly argue that Samsung's device is not "too similar" to Apple's, but let's at least get the substance of the allegations right. Apple is not saying that they "own roundrect tablets with a black front." They are alleging that the specific design of the specific tablets from Samsung violates Apple's design patents by copying a substantial portion of Apple's trade dress.

Re:iPad (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314269)

I could probably make one out of plexiglass and plywood that could fool them from ten feet away. It's a shiny black rectangle with rounded corners.

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314301)

I can't tell the difference between any two brands of jeans.

I can't tell the difference between any two brands of mechanical pencils.

Hell, most people can't tell the different between a Harley and a Honda.

Certainly if a brand were to distinguish itself from the rest -- unique stitching or something in jeans -- that would stand out, and copying that would be emulation.

But.. making a pair of pants out of blue denim with a zipper and button on the front, with 2 back pockets and 2 front/side pockets likely with a smaller pocket for a watch on the right side?

You can't fucking patent that design, because it's the basic design of all things we call "jeans".

That is precisely what Apple's doing with their iPad design. You're simply an Apple apologist. If this was Microsoft, not Apple, you'd be calling for heads to roll.

Have you LOOKED at Apple's design patent? It IS for a "rectangular tablet, rounded corners, bevel, screen on front".

The design patent was overly broad, should never have been granted, and Apple is behaving like a boorish asshole by trying to enforce it. These = facts.

Re:iPad (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314589)

That is precisely what Apple's doing with their iPad design. You're simply an Apple apologist. If this was Microsoft, not Apple, you'd be calling for heads to roll.

I never shared my opinion on the validity or usefulness of these patents. I supplied facts about the case to explain to the slow learners that the case isn't about "round rect with a black front." There are a host of claims that go much deeper than "round rect with black front." In fact, Samsung could have come up with a different design that would have trivially avoided the claim: color the plastic in the front bezel anything but black, and voila, the devices are easily distinguished.

That is precisely what Apple's doing with their iPad design. You're simply an Apple apologist. If this was Microsoft, not Apple, you'd be calling for heads to roll.

Nope, I'd be calling the design patent system stupid, and arguing that reform of that system is the solution. I don't particularly care who's doing it.

Re:iPad (1)

FunkDup (995643) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314769)

"rectangular tablet, rounded corners, bevel, screen on front".

Obviously they should just put the screen on the back.

Re:iPad (4, Interesting)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314315)

Nice hyperbole, from one to all Samsung lawyers. Just one couldn't tell the difference, another could. From your own link:

At one point during the hearing, she held one black glass tablet in each hand above her head, and asked Sullivan if she could identify which company produced which. "Not at this distance your honor," said Sullivan, who stood at a podium roughly ten feet away. "Can any of Samsung's lawyers tell me which one is Samsung and which one is Apple?" Koh asked. A moment later, one of the lawyers supplied the right answer.

Re:iPad (2, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314511)

I see. So you're saying you don't think that the lead counsel for the defendant being unable to distinguish between the two products at a fairly close distance is a pretty strong argument that the two devices are at least flirting with the defendant's device being a knockoff?

You don't think it would have been relevant for them to spend time poring over both devices and highlighting the similarties and the differences, so that they could identify which device was which, and demonstrate in court how different the devices clearly were? At best, the lead counsel was woefully unprepared and handed Apple a victory. At worst, the devices are knockoffs, and the lawyers are scarecely able to tell the difference, but are attesting under oath that they are clearly different devices.

Re:iPad (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314493)

Well the casual buyer might spot the word Samsung written on the box.

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314539)

What I'd like to know is how Samsung's lawyers could be unable to tell the difference [reuters.com] between an Apple and a Samsung product from ten feet away, yet you assume that the casual viewer will totally know the difference.

I'm pretty sure that's bullshit, because:

At one point during the hearing, she held one black glass tablet in each hand above her head, and asked Sullivan if she could identify which company produced which.

They were most likely off, meaning you couldn't see the user interface. And depending on how they were being held, you could probably block off the home button and other identifying characteristics so the only thing to go on would be the aspect ratio, which while entirely different, is something you'd need to know ahead of time.

So, here's a challenge for you: Go into a big box store, and find the TV section. From far enough away that you can't see the logos, I want you to identify by brand each TV. Can you do it? Because some people certainly can, but most people would just see a bunch of black rectangles on the wall, all showing the same video.

Yet, TV manufacturers don't sue each other over the "trade dress" despite the fact that all the large black slabs look basically identical. You know why? Because form follows function. It's a TV: it's basically all display with a little bit of structure around it and a few controls beneath the screen. They all look the same.

The exact same thing applies to tablets. Visually, they're just a touchscreen, with a few buttons around the display. They all look identical to the casual observer. But if you hand one to someone and ask them who made it, unless they can't read, no one will mistake a Samsung for an ASUS. Let alone an iPad.

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314419)

What I'd like to know is how they could confuse customers into thinking they're buying an Apple device when "Samsung" is printed on the device and the box it comes in.

A: if Samsung printed "Samsung" on a real iPad, that still wouldn't make it a Samsung.

B: like Prolex watches, this isn't about fooling buyers, its about posing buyers who want to fool those who see them - IOW people like you who can't afford the real thing but still believe its all about the image.

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314739)

Even supposing that point didn't come from serious amounts of butthurt...this is illegal, how?

Re:iPad (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313839)

This article is absurdly stupid. What about the Newton, arguably the predecessor, dare I say it, tablet to the iPad seems to have come before this guys idea. It's even mentioned in TFA.

Re:iPad (1)

Morty (32057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313931)

The guy's video came after the Newton, but his (documented) push for a tablet dates back to 1981, per TFA. That's well before Apple came out with the Newton. The two companies were next door neighbors and collaborated on this tablet concept.

Re:iPad (4, Insightful)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314265)

This article is absurdly stupid. What about the Newton, arguably the predecessor, dare I say it, tablet to the iPad seems to have come before this guys idea. It's even mentioned in TFA.

Watch the Knight-Ridder video onYouTube. The fact that Apple was not the first to create an oversized PDA is not in dispute. This is a case involving industrial design--Apple accuses Samsung of copying basically the "look and feel" of the iPad specifically. K-R's "newspaper tablet" design bears a strong resemblance to the iPad--much more so than the Newton devices.

Besides that, everyone knows Alan Kay invented the tablet computer design in the 1960's. I personally don't believe the iPad design is patentable and it was a mistake to grant those design patents in the first place.

Re:iPad (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314513)

ctrl-f "alan"

You're the only person in this entire list of responses that even mentions Alan Kay.

So. Sad.

--
BMO

Re:iPad (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313929)

I would think, either this guy owns tablet tech and has been making money of it for decades or has missed his chance.

Or neither. He's a witness for the defendant in this case, not a litigant, himself. Perhaps he missed his chance, but it seems his point is the idea wasn't particularly novel or original (or patentable) when he described it 18 years ago. Picard was certainly not impressed.

Re:iPad (1, Interesting)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314007)

What does the iPad have to do with it? There were commercial, mass-produced, tablets way before the first iPad.

The iPad has VERY MUCH to do with it. When the iPad was released, Mr. Fidler's concept was so similar to the new product that it moved people to recall his video from years ago. He wrote an essay on the topic when Apple was still pushing out Apple ][+ micros and took inspiration from a sci-fi movie from the 60s.

But in particular the iPad has very much to do with Mr. Fidler because his work from all those years ago has been submitted as prior art by the combatants in the Apple-instigated patent war. Furthermore Fidler claims he approached a few tech companies after departing from Knight-Ridder in an effort to bring his ideas to fruition. One of those companies was Apple. Apple did not respond to his offers but could have sat on the idea for awhile. If there was evidence presented that Apple did indeed receive and retain Fidler's correspondence it would be very damaging to Apple's case.

When Apple was just pushing its first Newton MessagePad, with its half-baked handwriting recognition, monochrome screen and stylus control Fidler's team at Knight-Ridder showcased a tablet that would be immediately familiar to us today. Fidler started writing about the concept ten years before that even. I think it is pretty obvious that as fantastic as the iPad is, that there is little to no validity at all in Apple's design patents filed many years later.

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314137)

Fiddler just copied this Apple design from 1983 [boingboing.net] .

when did UPS guys start carrying tablets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313787)

true, they are rugidized, with a reduced feature set, but as UPS guy told me this week, I've dropped it out of a moving truck

Re:when did UPS guys start carrying tablets (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313849)

Of course he has. It's UPS, they drop things out of moving trucks all the time.

There's always a bigger fish. (1)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313821)

Re:There's always a bigger fish. (1)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313997)

Re:There's always a bigger fish. (1)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314025)

As I said, there's always a bigger fish. I didn't claim the Newton was the first tablet, and I'm sure the PoqetPad wasn't the first either.

Re:There's always a bigger fish. (1)

IDarkISwordI (811835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314129)

As far as i am aware, it is the first functional, mass-produced, all-in-one, handheld, battery powered device, that we would recognize as a tablet or a slate computer today. As for concept, we can see a lot of ideas coming from far back into the early1960s.

Flash Game (-1, Offtopic)

hacker_yeudoi (2592711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313825)

Hello and welcome to GamePlaza.us. You have reached a refreshing free games portal offering the most popular of them around the net in a daily basis. What are you waiting for? Enjoy.!! http://www.gameplaza.us/ [gameplaza.us]

Tablet computing is gay. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313827)

Please make it go away.

Re:Tablet computing is gay. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314107)

I suppose GUIs and the mouse are gay too.

And keyboards, while we're at it. Real coders use punch cards, etc (queue xkcd comic strip about butterflies).

Go away, lame troll.

Being able to conceive of a product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313845)

That's a long way from reality. That said, I can find it a little sketchy to ask for patent protections that are so over broad that any implementation runs afoul of them.

It's be like Edison' s light bulb patents covering fluorescent bulbs. And that isn't even bringing up the questions of his invention not being wholly original.

Re:Being able to conceive of a product? (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313889)

Actually it would be like Edison's light bulb patents covering anything at all, since the only original part was the carbonized filament his researchers used. Except that it turned out that wasn't original either.

uhm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313857)

I had an HP tablet PC, and an iPaq handheld with a cell phone attachment (as well as a micro HD, wireless and ethernet) in 1999. 3 years before that I had a 'web tablet device' on wifi. I had a palm years before that with mobile web via CDMA.

Just because something is new to you doesn't mean it's new to anyone else. Apple/Google didn't create anything, they just gave it to all you morons.

oh, and get off my fucking internet...

Not about the tablet (4, Informative)

xswl0931 (562013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313859)

Apple is not making any claims on patents on the general idea of a tablet. They asserting design patents on specific design elements. If this guy's tablet invention shows prior art to Apple's designs patents, then those patents should be invalidated. Repeating the "rectangle with a screen" rhetoric is more akin to religion than science.

Re:Not about the tablet (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313927)

Yes, as long as your tablet is pyramid shaped with razor blades on the edges, Apple will reluctantly concede that their patent on the speed limit sign shaped flat surfaced pad (that, you know, looks like a pad) doesn't apply. Otherwise they claim they own it.

you get to pick the show plenty. I only claim the right to pick the show on days that have 'day' in the name.

Re:Not about the tablet (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313959)

Apple is not making any claims on patents on the general idea of a tablet. They asserting design patents on specific design elements.

Translation: Now I'm not saying Apple patented the idea of the tablet, but Apple patented the idea of the tablet. They're burying the competition in a sea of lawsuits claiming that they invented every design element of the tablet computer is pretty much the same thing... we're arguing over semantics. There is not a single manufacturer of tablets that hasn't been sued by Apple.

Re:Not about the tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314097)

I'm not even sure how much prior art even applies to design patents. It's a design and has likely been used somewhere in other contexts. Trying to single out any one element is missing the forest for the trees.

Re:Not about the tablet (0)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314173)

Then maybe Apple's "rectangle with a screen" religious patent should be nullified: USD627777S1 [scribd.com]

Captain Kirk's yeoman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313865)

Wasn't she always bringing him an iPad to sign?

GRiDPad (4, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313877)

The first tablet was the GRiDPad [wikipedia.org] from 1989.

Re:GRiDPad (5, Funny)

stoofa (524247) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313901)

Etch a Sketch. 1950s. That was prior art on many levels. Not that you could write PRIOR ART on it. It would be more like RBIQB_ABT.

Re:GRiDPad (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313943)

Etch a Sketch: Its touchscreen was so good that it needed dialknobs to move a little needle around on a screen.

No, the Etch a Sketch is nothing like a tablet except that it's flat, thin, and square, and even that's not a true prerequisite for a tablet. They're rectangles sometimes! Etch a Sketch had more in common with a notepad. The tablet concept is a flat computer that runs software with a touchscreen and probably a backlight of some sort. It's got to at least have something running on a rom chip. I don't remember seeing any of that when I tore my Etch a Sketch apart.

Re:GRiDPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313945)

From the link:

The main distinguishing aspect was its touch-screen interface with a stylus, a pen-like tool to aid with precision in a touchscreen device.

Ah ha! It has to use a stylus! The iPad uses a finger, therefore it is new and groundbreaking!!

Re:GRiDPad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313981)

In the Ender's Game in 1985, every school child had their personal, networked tablet to make their home work on. Four years is enough to productizize a fantasy if the building blocks are there.

Re:GRiDPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314017)

Alan Kay's Dynabook? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynabook

Re:GRiDPad (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314291)

Pffft. Tablets go back to Biblical times. The UI was a little slow however.

Re:GRiDPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314391)

The guys at Go (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GO_Corp.), one I know, would argue Grid's claim.

Speaking of 'prior art', this guy had tablets long before any of those techies -- http://gardenofpraise.com/images2/moses2.jpg.

Star Trek? (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313913)

Wasn't this in star trek "The Original Series" with a pen on a wire? I believe Yeoman Rand held it for James T Kirk to sign occasionally onscreen.

Tablet Newspaper from 1994 (1)

Br00se (211727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313921)

Video of the Information Design Lab electronic newspaper.

http://youtu.be/JBEtPQDQNcI [youtu.be]

What's the difference between an iPad and a Bieber (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313933)

One's white, trendy, and useless; the other one is a tablet.

simpsons did it! (1)

FrozenFood (2515360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313963)

what about prior art of the PADD in star trek TNG?

Newton anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39313965)

in b4 Apple Newton. You know, that piece of equipment that had the processor that the iPhone 1/2/3 all had?
Picture below:
stock.vueza.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/apple-newton-with-keyboard.jpg

2001 - Space Odyssey tablet (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39313987)

Here is a still [positivelyatlantaga.com] from the movie showing the tablet. From (my) memory, Kubrick added the images for the tablet in post-processing. By contrast, some of the ship's display terminal props were actually translucent screens with film projectors behind them.

Re:2001 - Space Odyssey tablet (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314071)

I will laugh if someone gimps an Angry Birds session or something onto his display.

Re:2001 - Space Odyssey tablet (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314711)

FarmVille. The astronauts in 2001 would have been playing FarmVille.

Re:2001 - Space Odyssey tablet (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314281)

Funny thing is the summary doesn't even get the 2001 connection right when it says "Fidler admits that other prior art influenced him, such as the tablets being used as computing devices in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior prior art.""

From the actual article: Fidler recalls having seen the movie and though he says he wasn’t consciously thinking of it all those years later, he acknowledges it could have been an influence.

Pretty damn big leap between someone asking him about the movie and saying he never made the connection but it could have been a subconscious influence, and claiming he admitted that 2001 definitely influenced him as prior art. Even more, nothing in the story mentions any other prior art at *all* beyond that, and they made it sound like this was just one example of several. WHY to the submitters have to paraphrase so badly that they add their own interpretation??

The 90s... (4, Interesting)

geogob (569250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314035)

I find interesting that someone claims he invented the tablet computer in the 90s.

Why do I find this interesting? I owned my first tablet computer in the 90s. Yep, that's right. Even funnier is that this tablet computer was from Apple computers - but this is completely irrelevant. Point is, development of tablet computers began much before the 90s in order to be released as commercial products in the 90s. And this guy predicted tablet computer around 1994... coincidentally the year when Apple Computer released its first tablet computer.

The day it was released I both wanted one and was convinced it could have a great future. I imagine thousands of possible use for such tablet computers. But I didn't invent the iPad. Or the Samsung Galaxy. Or what ever.

Re:The 90s... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314077)

For those of you who are missing it, he's referring to the Newton [wikipedia.org] . People sometimes forget that Apple did some innovative stuff even when Steve Jobs wasn't there...

Fred invented the first tablet (1)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314053)

This guy has it all wrong. The first tablet was invented way before by Fred Flintstone [amazon.com]

Prior, prior, prior art (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314069)

The Sumerians and Assyrians were 'computing' on the cPad (clay tablets), long before any of this.

Re:Prior, prior, prior art (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314105)

Yes, but they werent made by Samsung, so the dont count.

Re:Prior, prior, prior art (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314221)

Ah, but they attempted to sue the Egyptians and Hittites when they attempted to rip off their invention.

Re:Prior, prior, prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314335)

stupid joke is stupid.

you should feel bad about it.

Grid Pad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314073)

Back in the late 80's to early 90's, when I worked at prairie Tek, we supplied 2 1/2 inch hard drives to Grid, for their Grid Pad tablet computer.

I have a windows 3.1 tablet computer (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314109)

I bought it from a second hand dealer around 2001. It was operated with a stylus and came loaded with software which might be used by a telecomunications service person. It was basically a windows 3.1 laptop with a touch sensitive screen.

No more "inventing" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314127)

Can we please retire the word "invent"?

It seems that people use it to refer to two different things which should be kept separate. How about "conceptualizing", meaning: going "Hey, imagine if there was a..." when you're getting stoned with your pals, and "developing", meaning: painstakingly and laboriously solving the myriad technical issues to make a concept actually *work*. Then, we can dispense with this "I invented the tablet" bullshit.

Re:No more "inventing" (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314191)

Conceptualizing is a great thing to conflate invention with when the "invention" in question is a "design patent". As if something like that has any business being patented to begin with.

Such conceptualizations have been prior art in other areas of patents. Sci-Fi authors are great when it comes to this sort of stuff.

Not one single man (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314197)

designed the tablet. It was designed almost a century before it ever came to light. We are simply bolting together mostly off the shelf stuff and gluing it together with nice software because it can be done now. There is no invention in the tablet, its the realization of hopes and dreams and we had to wait for technology to catch up. No one man invented the tablet, not by a long shot.

Re:Not one single man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314601)

This was why people were asking apple to do it. We knew it was possible just by looking at the iphone/ipod and saying 'hey do that but with a bigger screen'... The iPad is not all that novel. People were sketching up these things in the 60/70s. They just didnt have the hardware to pull it off..

What about Jerry Kaplan's GO Corp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314207)

Kaplan came up with idea of a practical tablet computer in 1987 [wikipedia.org] , and started a short-lived craze within the highest circles of the personal computing business when various people caught wind of his idea. As he describes in his book Startup [amazon.com] , 1) Mitch Kapor of Lotus was his initial backer; 2) John Sculley of Apple launched the Newton project within days of Kaplan's unsuccessful attempt to hire away a star engineer from Apple (it may have been Bill Atkinson, but I threw away the book); 3) Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes started the Pen Windows project within weeks of watching GO's demo under NDA, where Kaplan tried unsuccessfully to convince Microsoft to write application software for GO's tablet. There were also amusing stories in Kaplan's book about AT&T and IBM executives.

This all happened years before Roger Fidler's brainstorm.

1992 (3, Interesting)

pcjunky (517872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314243)

I worked on a project called the Telesignature back in 1992. We used a pen tablet computer from Grid as the signing device. Several other companies followed suite in 1993. There was a pen computing convention in Boston that year. The only difference between these and tablets today was the pen. They looked and acted almost identical.

By the mustache of Alan Kay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39314245)

I do believe the Dynabook dates from 1968. Well, the concept, not an actual product.

I have prior art. (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#39314527)

1990's? I can beat that. I designed a tablet computer back in 1985 as part of a college project. Never saw production because the hardware was not advanced enough to handle what I wanted to do. But it's prior art. Mockups, user interface, etc.

Apple and these other Big Corps need to step back, take a breather and stop suing each other. The whole patent system should be voided. Piss on it.

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