Yesterday, it was discovered that Samsung, in an effort to not get sued by Apple, is attempting to prove a point that Stanley Kubrick created the original form of the iPad when he made 2001: A Space Odyssey. As you can see in the images above, there’s clearly some kind of electric tablet sitting there, and Samsung claims that “two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers.” It’s that last part that I don’t agree with.
Is that really a personal tablet computer? Or is it a personal television? As you can see there are 10 buttons on the bottom of the tablet, and what they do, we can only imagine. The scene which this was featured lasts only two minutes, and they never actually touch or interact with the devices in the scene. Looking up a timeline of the personal computer, in 1968, the same year 2001 was released, Hewlett Packard coined the phrase “personal computer”.
An advertisement in Science magazine by Hewlett-Packard introduces first programmable scientific desktop calculator, which Hewlett-Packard calls “the new Hewlett-Packard 911A personal computer”. (This is claimed as coining the term “personal computer”.)
In another example, you can see the Nova by Data General, which is basically a giant filing cabinet with a tiny monitor on top. So to say that the image is a personal computer seems just a tiny bit far fetched. What’s also funny to me is that you can clearly see a tiny IBM logo on the bottom right of the device. Interestingly enough, IBM launched the first laptop called the IBM 5100, in September of 1975, 7 years after the release of 2001.
Now, I’m not saying there isn’t similarities. Perhaps Kubrick did envision this as a personal computer, and perhaps IBM or a prop guy built something close to his idea? But is there any solid proof that says that’s what this was? Either way, I found the history lesson of personal computers rather interesting. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in the last 40 years. Imagine the computers we’ll be using 40 years from now.