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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.


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Predicting vs. Producing
By MaulBall789 on 5/16/2011 1:06:58 PM , Rating: 4
Of course, predicting a future device is different from actually producing the actual device. The idea is great and I think the tablet will eventually be used for much more. If you want to give the real credit go back to the pilot episode of Star Trek and you will see Captain Pike signing a tablet like device. I'm sure there are many other examples in old scifi novels as well.




RE: Predicting vs. Producing
By MrBlastman on 5/16/2011 1:34:10 PM , Rating: 4
Sure, they're different. However, without the visionary science fiction authors--legends, I might add such as Asimov, Clarke, Heinlen, Huxley, etc., many fantastic technologies we have today might not have been thought of yet.

I say many, as some would have been. The power that these fictional authors wield though is that of the imagination. They provide a foundation that many other brilliant minds who, might not necessarily have the creative ability but more the technical--something to strive to create.

Science Fiction writers have without a doubt strongly influenced our future and I'm sure they will continue to do so going forward. All some people need is that little spark inside them to create something wonderful and fantastical.


RE: Predicting vs. Producing
By tng on 5/16/2011 3:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of SF writers, do you remember that people always gave credit to Aurthur C Clark as the "inventor" of the modern communications satellite? I have always thought that was an insult to all the engineers and specialists who did the design on the first comm sat to go up.

By that accounting Jules Verne is the inventor of the Nuclear Submarine.....

Some people do see the future more accurately than the rest of us, but you can't give them to much credit.


RE: Predicting vs. Producing
By MrBlastman on 5/16/2011 4:19:26 PM , Rating: 2
Right--but if the seed is never planted, can you said it would sprout, eventually?

These writers plant the seed that leeds to it ultimately germinating into something useful. Without them, it potentially could take far longer for the techological advance to occur.

Like writers needing a muse, a good engineer needs inspiration themselves to push the limits and create something totally new.


RE: Predicting vs. Producing
By invidious on 5/19/2011 3:02:49 PM , Rating: 3
Believe it or not but engineers have imagination and inspiration of their own.


Methinks he watched Star Trek.
By wordsworm on 5/17/2011 9:21:19 AM , Rating: 5
Seriously, folks, Captain Kirk used digital pads. This guy didn't predict anything that Roddenberry didn't dream up decades before this guy came out with his prediction. Roddenberry was the man. Science will be churning out his visions for years to come.




RE: Methinks he watched Star Trek.
By chromal on 5/17/2011 11:02:34 AM , Rating: 2
Thank you for making my point so I didn't have to. 1994? Try 1966. But, in fairness, before Star Trek, written-word science fiction probably hit the concept even sooner.


By voodoochile123 on 5/23/2011 9:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking too. I saw a show once (on Discovery I think), which was called something like, how Kirk changed the world. It was all about a selection of key high tech people and inventors who have been responsible for a lot of the special technology we have today (mobile phones etc), and they give full credit to Star Trek for their inspiration.

Roddenbery really was the man. He also had some staff writers who came up with some great ideas that have gone on to become reality too. I'm not a big Trek fan, only ever watched several episodes in my whole life, but I really respect it.


Uhm
By Azethoth on 5/16/2011 6:23:43 PM , Rating: 2
We could write about some guy in 1994 who seems like hes prescient or we could go as close to the actual source as makes no difference:

"...The first complete concept of a tablet computer was the DynaBook, conceptualised by Alan Kay in the late 1960s and early 1970s..."

Yes, thats right, all this has happened before and will happen again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablet_personal_compu... lists even earlier inklings of the concept.




RE: Uhm
By Azethoth on 5/16/2011 6:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
Damnit, I forgot to mention the usual Hollywood interface: Original 1966 Star Trek and every Star Trek after it has tablets.


Prediction
By hiscross on 5/18/2011 7:32:19 PM , Rating: 2
stuff happens




RE: Prediction
By Azethoth on 5/21/2011 2:35:26 AM , Rating: 2
I think you mean: "Stuff will happen"


Science Fiction Inspiration
By SiliconJon on 5/25/2011 4:08:25 PM , Rating: 3
Sure, Roddenberry was great, but you'd be amazed at how far back some of these types of visionary products were first fathomed. This site has some listings, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find even more impressive "predictions" of sorts to exist in a much more distant past.

1909: The Video Communicator:
http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=189...

1899: The Idiot Box:
http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=765

Though the closer to production possibility one waits to make the prediction the more likely the actual fruition will resemble the fiction, absent brilliance or a stroke of luck.




1994 try 1954
By BobfromLI on 5/16/2011 4:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
Robert A Heinlein was writing about the digital newspaper in his books in the '50's. He's dead..so let's go with the other guy.




By fredt4 on 5/27/2011 11:51:46 PM , Rating: 2
If I remember correctly Dave and Frank sat down to a meal while watching video on their tablets back in 68.




Yawn.
By SL4P on 5/28/2011 4:05:11 AM , Rating: 2
So this predates my written spec for PentaPad in 1987 ?

'Penta' was taken from 'five' - closely coinciding with the number of fingers we have on each hand.

Minimal buttons for simplicity and a slide bar on one edge to facilitiate paging etc. The target was to have PDA-like functinality - but significantly to have granular news & magazine segments by subscription... only what you want when you want it.

It was refreshed via a docking station with a fast IR link... which was trickle fed from what was the precursor to the modern internet.

Put that back on the shelf with SQ/AR and FREEDOM - and all the pther projects I couldn't sell at the time.




For the Record
By eef on 5/31/2011 10:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
Roger got this idea from Star Trek. He would probably tell you that.




Meh...
By callmeroy on 6/2/2011 10:53:46 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a big on touting someone's horn / giving them all kinds of praise or crediting for making predictions on future products well before their time....much less so on obvious predictions, of which I think the tablet is one such obvious prediction even back in '94.

First you have the other guys point in this thread (sorry dude forgot your name) -- there's a big difference between what is esentially "dreaming" about something and making it happen. Ok great you predict some killer invention or evolution of a current product -- that's nice and all but you don't impress me that much unless you at least try your damnest to actually make it a reality.

The trend of computers since ENIAC has been they are gradually shrinking in size while their "power" has been growning exponentially over the years/decades. So no a tablet computer was not a genius or far reaching prediction in '94.

Just like I won't look back 20 years from now when computers are the size of a modern Ipod and yet they pump up 100 times more processing power than our most elite/high end gaming systems do today, with graphics abilities rivaling what they use for CGI effects in movies like Avatar....

I mean that's very reasonable based on trends of smaller, faster, more energy efficient, etc....

Our kids (or in some cases our grand kids)...will take for granted playing on computer systems that will DESTROY modern day high end servers used in fortune 500 enterprises.

I will say yeah there's "something" to be said for planting the seed of invention and all that....and Sci-Fi is good stuff (well GOOD sci-fi, I don't like the low-budget stuff its corny) ....but still my point is to not praise someone for just having a thought that isn't acted on. Ok great you THINK this will happen or this device will be in our future but you do/did NOTHING to make that reality occur? Ok um....wonderful.....now go back to sleep.




Hmm.... Seen that before
By unimatrix725 on 6/2/2011 7:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think a guy named Gene Roddenberry came up with that a few decades earlier...? Perhaps "Star Trek"??




"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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