The sci-fi TV series Star Trek the Next Generation featured tablet computers which were designated as “padds” way back in 1987. Was this the start of our love for portable devices?

Today, it is hard to walk around without seeing somebody using a tablet – they are everywhere you look. The Daily Mail reported last month, that nearly a third of children now learn to use a table computer or a mobile phone before the can even talk.

At the beginning of 2013 it was also reported that 11% of adults own a tablet computer, and almost half of tablet users get news on their tablet every day.

Tablet History

The history of tablets stretches right back to 1888, sadly a long time before Star Trek, when the first patent for an electronic tablet for handwriting. The first patent for a system that recognized handwritten characters by analysing the handwriting motion was granted in 1915.

GriD Systems, “boldly went where no one had gone before”, when they released the first commercially available tablet in September 1989 – the GriDPad.

Then and Now

Since then the technology has developed and progressed dramatically along with the size and design of the devices. Not only has the technology changed but the use for these devices has also shifted. The first few devices were design for a very corporate audience and were created as an aid to business practices. Now tablets are used for a variety of things including social media, gaming and watching television and videos.

Take a look at our comparison of the first tablet release and the latest release – The GriDPad Vs. The iPad Mini.

imgresVSiPad Mini

Element GriDPad iPad Mini
Processors 10 MHz 80C86 Apple A5 Dual-Core 1GHz
Operating System MS-DOS iOS 7.0.3
Display a monochromatic Colour Graphics Adapter(CGA) display of (640×400) pixels  7.9-inch (200.66 mm) diagonal LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
1024 × 768 px at 163 PPI 4:3 aspect ratio
Memory 1 or 2 MB of system memory 512 MB DDR2 RAM
Dimensions  9 x 12 x1.4 inches 200×134.7×7.2 mm (7.87×5.30×0.28 in)
Weight  4.5 pounds 0.68
Special Features Stylus Front-facing 1.2MP and rear-facing 5MP camera
Price $3,750.00 £249.00

As you can see from the table above, there have been many upgrades since 1989; one of the biggest changes I can see is the price. With a $3750 price tag I can’t imagine there were many GridPad devices sold and used.