A touchscreen tablet with the hand of a user.
A touchscreen tablet with a user’s hand. (ERIC AUDRAS / MAXPPP)

We are interested in a product that has entered our lives: the touch pad. It is often believed that it was Apple who invented the tablet. In fact, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

The touchscreen tablet we know the most is the Apple iPad released in 2010. Available in different sizes and models, copied and imitated by various brands. But the history of the electronic tablet actually dates back to the 1980s. The first tablet in history, without going as far as Moses or the pharaohs, that is to say a portable device with a screen and a stylus, was created in 1989. It was called GRiDPad. It was designed by the American company GRiD Systems and manufactured by the Korean Samsung. The GRiDPad weighed almost two kilos and was equipped with a stylus connected to the device by a wire. It was mainly used by professionals, especially the military.


Then, in 1993, Apple released a small touchscreen device called the Newton. It used to be a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). The Newton was probably inspired by another device, the Magic Link, developed by the Californian company General Magic, which was full of promise but which never had any success, because the technology of 15 years ago did not allow you to do everything you expected.

Also in the 1990s, in 1996, the American company Palm Computing created the Palm Pilot. A personal digital assistant with a touch screen, equipped with a stylus, which was hugely popular until the early 2000s.
In 2001-2002, we returned to touchscreen computers with the Microsoft Tablet-PC system. Bill Gates predicts that in five years the PC will be a tablet.
So you could say that it was Microsoft who invented the concept of the tablet.
Except that the Tablet-PC was too expensive and not suitable. Five years later, he disappeared.
It was then that a certain Steve Jobs arrived who launched the iPhone in 2007, and especially the iPad in 2010. Not too expensive and equipped with real software for mobility. The iPad came out after the iPhone, but it was actually invented before.

For more information: Tech-Time.fr