Apple iPad, Android Just the Latest in Tablet PCs' Long History
From the "telautograph" to the Apple iPad and Google Android, it's been a long and winding road for the technology behind tablet PCs and touch-screens.The Apple iPad whetted consumer appetite for tablet PCs, not to mention its rivals' interest in creating touch-screens of their very own. Advertisements for every new seven- or ten-inch device insist on talking up revolutionary or "magical" hardware or software, spinning the impression that these devices represent the bleeding edge of technology; that nothing quite so amazing has ever been seen on this planet, much less made available for a hefty percentage of one's paycheck. But all technology evolves from sometimes cruder predecessors, and tablets are no different. People have been playing with some of the technologies underlying tablet PCs for over a century: In July 1888, for example, inventor Elisha Gray received a U.S. patent for an electrical stylus device that captured handwriting. According to his original application, this "telautograph" leveraged telegraph technology to send a handwritten message between a sending and receiving station.
Tablet research necessarily accelerated after World War II, in conjunction with advances in computing. Research into electronic text and handwriting recognition contributed to the RAND Corporation's RAND tablet, produced in 1964.