The Real Deal 195: Tablet computers (podcast)

We take a tour through the history of previous attempts at making successful tablet PCs. How is the Apple iPad different? Is it that different? Can it succeed? Als your calls and emails.

Tom Merritt Former CNET executive editor
4 min read

We take a tour through the history of previous attempts at making successful tablet PCs. How is the Apple iPad different? Is it that different? Can it succeed? Also we take your calls and answer e-mails.

Watch this: Ep. 195: Tablet computers


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Episode 195

The long fail: A brief history of unsuccessful tablet computers

A short history of the tablet computer (http://www.osnews.com/story/22739)
-DynaPAD the first concept from the late 1960s

The Apple graphics tablet
Rafe: That’s an input device, dood! And I actually sold Tod Rundgren his first one.

-Apple Tablet design from Frog circa 1983 http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/24/frog-design-outs-the-apple-tablet-that-could-have-been-in-198/

-Apple’s Knowledge Navigator idea in 1988 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl3CVaWtF-o

-the GRiDpad was the first, real, tangible tablet computer as we would recognize it (GRiD was owned by Tandy)

-Momenta (Rafe) from October 1991: http://books.google.com/books?id=2j0EAAAAMBAJ&lpg=RA1-PA142&ots=azCp6iU1z1&dq=momenta%20needleman&pg=RA1-PA142#v=onepage&q=momenta%20needleman&f=false

-Jeff Hawkins left GRiD with a software license and founded Palm
first successful utility (as opposed to gaming) computer product without a keyboard?

-GO introduced the PenPoint operating system in 1991 (Shipped on multiple devices including ThinkPad700T

-Shortly after we saw Windows for Pen Computing 1.0 (add-on for Windows 3.x – eventually developed into Windows XP Tablet edition

-MessagePad running Newton OS came along in 1993.

-Microsoft Tablet edition 2001

From @icesnake1950 – Fujitsu iPad 2002 http://www.currentdirections.com/hardware/fujitsu/ipad100.html

-UMPC 2005

-Nokia N800

-Amazon Kindle

Today’s tablets
Lenovo X series. And the weird U1: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-31045_1-10424800-269.html

Microsoft’s line of Slate computers from CES – HP TouchSmart tm2: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-31045_1-10423946-269.html?tag=mncol. $949

Apple tablet

Hey Guys,
I have recently wanted to start using linux. I have done some looked around and found that there are several different distros, what are the major differences between them? Is there any particular distro that you would recommend to someone as their first distro?

Love the show

Answer: Hands down for beginners I recommend Ubuntu. Wikipedia has a nice list of distros with a designation of main purpose: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Linux_distributions If you really want to dig into reading up on the differences try http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major


Hi Tom/Rafe,

In the CES 2010 episode Tom made a comment that he used his Mifi instead of sharing the wireless on his Mac. I’ve been looking for a way of sharing my Wifi on an XP machine; the only way I’ve found is get the internet via wire and use the wireless for the sharing (and a wired connection isn’t always available). On a Mac, can you connect via wireless and share the connection at the same time? How about on Windows 7?


Chris the Accountant, Canada

Answer: You want Internet Connection Sharing: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Using-ICS-Internet-Connection-Sharing. Then you have to set up an ad-hoc WiFi link.
Go to Control Panel, select Network and Sharing Center.

Click on the link “Set up a Connection or Network”.

Select the option "Set up a wireless ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network".
Caveat: I haven’t actually done this. I’d rather pay $720 a year for a MiFi than bang my head against Windows’ network configuration settings.


You seem to love your Thinkpad’s so maybe you can help me here. I have a t61 that used to have XP and bluetooth. Now I have Windows 7 and no bluetooth. I have tried everything.

There is nothing on Lenovo’s site except for a Lazar mouse bluetooth driver. The device manager doesn’t show the hardware at all. not even as a device that is missing drivers. It is like It never existed to start with. I have installed all the hotkeys and Fnf5 only shows WiFi. You seem to work with Thinkpads so I am hoping you know about this glitch and a way to fix it.

Love the shows, :)

Answer: I haven’t run across this myself, but it looks like others have:



I see some GPS units have bluetooth.

Is it possible to use a bluetooth keyboard to enter destination information on any make/model GPS units — instead of the on-screen entry?

I would expect this would have a better chance than a USB keyboard with a mini-adapter since the bluetooth keyboard would have its own power supply.


Michael, lost in Akron

Answer: Hello Michael,

Your question was passed around our Reviews staff and finally ended up on my desk. I hope you don’t mind my chiming in!

I’ve seen devices support hands-free calling (and a few support A2DP audio streaming and serial connections for contacts syncing), but none of the Bluetooth-capable GPS devices that I’ve tested have been compatible with Bluetooth keyboards or other input peripherals.

If you absolutely can’t deal with tapping on a touch screen, then you can always try using your GPS device’s software to input points of interest (such as TomTom’s HOME or Garmin’s Connect) using your full-size keyboard; sending destinations to your device through Google Maps (works best with a GPS smartphone or a Web-connected navigation device); or finding a device that uses voice recognition.

I hope that helps,



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