As has been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere, if you think you’ve heard of something like the iPad before … well, you have. Forty-two years ago, in his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, legendary science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke described a device virtually identical to the iPad. He called it the “newspad,” and here’s how he described it:
“When he was tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, [Heywood Floyd] would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart … He would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him [which he would expand] until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort.”
The newspad makes an appearance in the movie 2001 as well: if I recall correctly, you see one of the astronauts aboard the spacecraft Discovery en route to Jupiter reading it while eating breakfast.
Not only did Clarke guess right about the i/news Pad, he also guessed right about its contents. Again from the novel: “There was another thought which a scanning of those tiny electronic headlines often invoked. The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be.”
Amen to that.