Back to the Future: the iPad of 1988

If this paper wasn’t hosted on a government website, I would think it a hoax.

Apparently in the late 1980’s, Apple sponsored a competition called “Project 2000″ to imagine the computer of the future. A group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wrote a paper called “TABLET: The Personal Computer of the Year 2000,” which resembles Apple’s iPad, complete with its button-free touchscreen interface and a camera function (well, I’m assuming the next iPad will have this, like the iPhone). In addition, the features listed on the tablet resemble YouTube, FaceTime/Skype, SD cards, RSS subscriptions, GPS location for stolen tablets, ebooks, text-to-speech, and virtual keyboard functions.

My favorite idea in the paper is this: “Scientific journal articles will have live equations built in, so they can be automatically checked by the reader.” That’s a great idea, particularly since the majority of academic journals (scientific ones in particular) are primarily distributed electronically (at least to institutions, though not usually to individuals). It doesn’t seem like it would take much to implement that kind of a feature, and how handy would that be to encourage scholars to check over the work of others? It wouldn’t be true replicative research, but it would be a check on correct outputs from mathematical formulas, statistical analyses, etc.

It’s also surprisingly (commendably!) short on academic-speak, for being a university-produced paper.

Articles on the similarities between the original paper and iPad:

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