2001:A Space Odyssey and the iPad (or is it tamPod?)

Posted on February 2nd, 2010 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

"I'm sorry, Dave, that's prior art..."

"Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device..."

The first picture is of Apple’s new (unfortunately named) iPad, the second picture is from the film 2001:A Space Odyssey, showing a remarkably similar device being used by astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole as they eat their delicious, extruded paste meals.

I wonder if Apple and/or Steven Jobs have thought about throwing Arthur C. Clarke and/or Stanley Kubrick some scratch for finally bringing their design to market?  There is precedent for “new” inventions being denied patents based on prior description in science fiction works (e.g. waterbeds described by Robert Heinlein).

Even if not legally required, I think it would be a public relations coup for Apple to at least make the gesture of offering something to the originators (or, populizers, at the very least) of the pad screen concept.  In fact, tying in the marketing of the iPad with an undeniable cinematic masterpiece like 2001 sounds like a pretty Apple-y thing to do, and I think would show some class.

However, I’m not holding my breath…back in the dark ages, Steve Jobs got a tour of Xerox’s legendary Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he saw prototype computer systems based that had a graphical user interface made up of windows, menus, radio buttons, check boxes and icons, and which also utilized a moveable pointing device.  These elements were shortly brought to market by Apple in the Lisa in 1983, and then in the legendary and world-changing Macintosh in 1984.

I’m not denying the design and marketing brilliance of Steve Jobs and Apple in popularizing these products, but it would be nice to see some humility and respect paid to the originators of the ideas they are getting rich producing.

Update 8/26/2011:  Adding additional image below showing a closer view of the device, which clearly shows that it is not integrated into the desktop, and is a separate device, and is obviously hanging over the rim of the table at a jaunty angle:


JauntyPad is jauntily laid...

It’s also easy to find other examples with Google image search, fyi.