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Roger Fidler in 1994.
This guy deserves some royalties

In 1994, the same year that Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel of The Today Show were asking, "What is internet, anyway?," the then-director of Knight-Ridder, one of the United State's largest print journalism publishing institutions, had the foresight to predict a "tablet newspaper" that bears an uncanny resemblance to Apple's iPad and other modern-day tablets.

Roger Fidler, the Knight-Ridder exec who appears at length in the video, "The Tablet Newspaper: A Vision for the Future," is spot-on on a number of predictions for the newspaper business and how technology would play into it. 

"I do believe for the first time we will begin seeing an alternative to ink on paper," Fidler says. "It may be difficult to conceptualize the idea of digital paper, but, in fact, we believe that's what's going to happen."

"An important part of this evolution is the emergence of the electronic tablet," the video says. "Tablets will be a whole new class of computer. They'll weigh under 2 pounds. They'll be totally portable. They'll have a clarity of screen-display comparable to ink on paper. They'll be able to blend text, video, audio, and graphics together. And they'll be part of our daily lives around the turn of the [21st] century."

So maybe they didn't get the timing exactly right, but check out the full video for more of Fidler's "eerily prescient" ruminations.

Now a Program Director for Digital Publishing at the Reynolds Journalism Institute of the University of Missouri, Fidler -- I think -- should lobby Steve Jobs for some cash for stealing his idea. At the very least, he should kindly ask Mr. Jobs to replace Rupert Murdoch as the de facto leader of formal news publishing on the iPad.

Fidler likely won't do such a thing. But he has told Jim Romanesko more recently that he expects tablets to become ubiquitous worldwide by 2021.




"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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