It’s one of those stories that is destined to float around for years. Of course we all know that there were tablets in movies before Apple invented their iPad, and there were tablets in real life. You may have even seen a MadTV parody of the “iPad” years before there ever was such a thing. But did you know that Intel really did have plans for an I-Pad years before Apple?
The year was 1994 and most people still didn’t even have internet service, yet The Los Angeles Times ran a story about Intel’s plans for a personal device called an information pad, or “I-Pad” that communicated with all the other appliances in your home and even with your computer. It was all pie in the sky at that time, but Intel really did produce a prototype for the 2001 Consumer Electronics Show. It was polished enough to even show the packaging of the product.
Of course, any tablet-like device would have been woefully inadequate back in 2001. There were no cellular data networks and even wireless networking was still years from being in most homes. Intel really just showed one of many devices that were shown around that time. Some, like the Apple Newton MessagePad and the Palm III, were much more like prototypes of today’s mobile devices and they were real, purchasable items rather than prototypes. Still, it’s interesting to see this little side note to Intel’s development and to remember there was a time when Intel and Microsoft were the odds on favorites to control our vision of the future. It’s also funny to think that even though we all laughed at the term “iPad” when it came out, the term clearly had been around long enough that Apple could bank on it.