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The Evolution of Tablet Computers: An Overview

Evolution of TabletsTablet PCs are now an integral part of everyday life for many people around the world. Individuals can use these handy devices to complete a range of tasks, from taking pictures to checking social media websites and getting on with work. It seems as though these portable computers are very much here to stay.

These days, the iPad dominates the market, but Apple hasn’t always been at the forefront of tablet design. In fact, these small devices were around for decades before Apple launched its hit product in 2010. Way back in 1987, the Linus Write-Top was released. This machine was one of the first handwriting-recognition tablets and, using a stylus, people could write on its screen. Two years later in 1989, founder of Palm Computing Jeff Hawkins released the GridPad. Although the military bought a number of these products, few consumers were attracted to it.

Meanwhile, in 1993 Apple entered the fray by releasing the Newton MessagePad. The device was described as a ‘personal digital assistant’ (PDA) and it was largely intended as a calendar, featuring a few other apps too. Four years later, Jeff Hawkins returned with an affordable PDA called the PalmPilot.

In 2000, Microsoft hit the market with its first Tablet PC. At the time, it said of the device: “The size of a legal notepad and half the weight of most of today’s laptop PCs, the Tablet PC is a full-powered, full-featured PC that runs Windows XP and combines the power of desktop computing with the flexibility and portability of a pen and paper notepad.” By 2002, the computing giant had designed a version of its XP operating system especially for tablets and it signed up PC makers to build different models. One such model was the Fujitsu Windows XP Tablet.

By the mid-2000s, there were a number of tablets for people to choose from, including the Lenovo ThinkPad and the LS800 from Motion Computing. However, these products were expensive and they lacked popular appeal.

It was not until 2010 that tablets made their real breakthrough. In that year, the iPad took the computing world by storm. Across the world, well over 100 million devices have been sold. The success of this user-friendly, app-rich product spawned the development of rival devices, many of which use the open-source Android operating system. While Apple’s iOS-based iPad and iPad mini still dominate the market, Android-based products are achieving growing success. Google’s Nexus devices, which include the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, are leading the way, while Amazon’s inexpensive Kindle Fire HD is also doing well. It goes without saying that Microsoft has retained its own ambitions in this growing sector. It is relying on Windows 8-based tablets, led by its Surface With Windows RT tablet.

Tablet sales look set to rise still further, and consumers can expect evermore impressive technology and features as manufactures compete with one another to win market share.

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