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Monday, April 25, 2011

A Prediction of the iPad from 1994, which usually engages in snarky comments about ephemeral people, has a great story about a clip on YouTube.

Knight-Ridder newspapers back in 1994 thought far enough ahead to put together a think tank to plan for the future. You can see in this YouTube clip that they got a lot of the details right. True, the tablet uses a stylus instead of your fingers to touch the tablet's screen and the icons are straight out of 1994's Windows 3.1/Mac OS Classic. But the rest of the presentation looks like it's today's news. Even the plans for the advertisements of the future, going from black and white 2-D text and pictures to full color text and pictures, seem au courant. See an item you like and want more details? Just tap on it and see all the features. Just like an on-line Frys ad.

One detail they didn't get right is the pervasiveness of the Internet. The 1994 tablet had local 2-way radio capabilities (cell phone?). If you wanted to read your local paper while you were on the road, though, you would have to use a magnetic storage card that you refreshed at a kiosk. Public Wi-Fi was not in the designer's minds; but the need for something to do its job was.

So kudos to Knight-Ridder for thinking about the future in terms beyond "What if we put in Page 3 girls like they do in England? That'll boost circulation!" Pay attention to the term "bridge of familiarity" You'll hear that a lot as the tablet/iPad continues to evolve in terms of hardware and software.

Tom Briant

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