Science Fiction Becomes Reality 06: Tablet

If you were launched into space, would you want a sentient computer as part of the crew or just humans? I’d want just human because some computers think they can just run the joint (and kill you) because they think they’re smarter than we are.

Tablet: The Sci-Fi Version

In our look at science fiction imagining that has turned into our every day reality this week, we turn to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In one scene the astronauts, played by Gary Lockwood and Keir Dullea, are eating while watching a TV show on their own personal, mini “tablet.”

What’s really erie about this clip is the “tablets” in this film look exactly like today’s iPad. Some have even said that Kubrick and his collaborator, Arthur C. Clarke who wrote the book, The Sentinel, that the film is based on predicted the future technology. In the book version, Clarke describes how a user “would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad.” He went on: “the postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it in comfort.”


How It Became Reality

The first iPad was released by Apple on April 3, 2010. But Apple’s first attempt at a table computer was actually called a personal digital assistant (MessagePad) and introduced in 1993 and didn’t revolutionize the way people interact with it the way the iPad did.

As Apple and its competitors continued developing the technology, the battles in the marketplace began to heat up…especially with Samsung. In 2011, Apple and Samsung went head-to-head in court as Apple argued that Samsung infringed on its patents.

This is where life imitates art: Samsung defended itself stating that Apple was hardly the first to think of a flat tablet, the company cited Kubrick’s film, 2001 Space Odyssey: “an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface, and a thin form factor.”


Unfortunately, Samsung’s defense didn’t hold up in court. Apple won an injunction against the Galaxy, where it argued that Samsung “slavishly” copied the iPad’s design.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What science-fiction ideas have you recently read about or have you seen in movies that you predict we’ll be using very soon? Let me know in the comments!

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Dana Leipold

Continuity Director
Dana is a freelance writer, author, and member of the Association of Independent Authors. She has self-published three books practices yoga, loves funny cat videos, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.

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