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How Star Trek Artists Imagined the iPad... 23 Years Later 324

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the read-it-on-tos-yesterday dept.
MorderVonAllem submitted an incredibly cool article about the computers and set design of Star Trek. If you are into that sort of thing, you're going to really like this one. It says "There are a lot of similarities between Apple's iPad and the mobile computing devices—known as PADDs—used in the Star Trek universe. Ars spoke to designers Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler to find out the thinking and inspiration behind the PADD and how closely the iPad represents a real-life incarnation of that dream."
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How Star Trek Artists Imagined the iPad... 23 Years Later

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  • Wow... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XPeter (1429763) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:25AM (#33205514) Homepage

    I thought this was Slashdot: Source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues

    Not Apple HQ.

    The PADDs similar tablets in general, not just Apples iPad.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you RTFA the Star Trek guys specifically mention the iPad not pads and tablets in general. Thus the article title.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by shadowfaxcrx (1736978)

        and if you heard TFQuestions the reporter asked, they were probably along the lines of "so how close is the iPad to your PADD?" rather than "So what example of modern technology do you think is an analogue to something you designed for the show?"

      • The main difference, I think, between iPad and the original conception of PADDs, were that PADDs are near useless without a starship nearby, and specifically, it's computer core. The PADD was the first conceived cloud accessory. Originally, it was basically just an ebook reader, any heavy processing or analysis was done by the ships computer, which it would always be connected to, wirelessly, even if on planet.
        • forgot to add... iPad blows PADDs away. Unless there's a multigigaquad federation starship computer to go with it, in which case, iPad is ridiculously archaic.
          • I'm sure in the fictional world of Star Trek that a PADD decoupled from a super computer probably still blows the hell out of the iPad as far as functionality goes, but the perception of utility is greatly diminished in the hands of the jaded user.

            There is no way an iPad would compare in utility (other than "poorly") with a tablet computer from three years from now, let alone from 300 years from now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      you must be old here...

    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EricTheRed (5613) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:32AM (#33205614) Homepage

      I thought this was Slashdot: Source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues

      Not Apple HQ.

      The PADDs similar tablets in general, not just Apples iPad.

      I agree with you.

      Think of all those e-readers out there, they too look like the smaller PADD's you see in TNG - albeit with black & white screens.

      The only things an iPad (or iPhone/iPod touch) has more in common with PADD's are colour and touch sensitive screens, although some e-readers also have the latter.

      I think there's too many iPad centric articles around at the moment, much to Apple's delight I think

      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Moridineas (213502) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:45AM (#33205784) Journal

        Well you can disagree, but the I think the point of the article is that the two Trek designers specifically brought up the similarities.

        "For example, pinch to zoom—that was relatively difficult to do even as a visual effect. It's implemented brilliantly on the iPad and the iPhone."

        Drexler said that to him, the iPad is "eerily similar" to the PADDs used in Star Trek. "We always felt that the classic Okuda T-bar graphic was malleable, and that you could stretch and rearrange it to suit your task, just like the iPad," he said. "The PADD never had a keyboard as part of its casing, just like the iPad. Its geometry is almost exactly the same—the corner radius, the thickness, and overall rectangular shape."

        "It's uncanny to have a PADD that really works," Drexler said, unlike the non-functional props made for the TV series and later films. "The iPad is the true Star Trek dream," Drexler told Ars.

        None of those things apply to, eg, the Kindle (nor other pre-iPad tablets. I've never seen an Android tablet) which has a very different form factor, different bezel/corner radius, different colors, different screen, no touch. So, take it up with the designers of the PADD if you've got a problem ;-)

      • The ONLY thing? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:38PM (#33207204)

        The only things an iPad (or iPhone/iPod touch) has more in common with PADD's are ... touch sensitive screens

        The ONLY thing?

        That turns out to be EVERYTHING.

        As for the article, one of the reasons a lot of people like the iPad is that it's Stark Trek UI brought to life. I can't help be repeat the quote from Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] here:

        I have been waiting for the ability to manipulate technology by pressing dynamic symbols for basically ever. If you find such things unpleasant, then I suggest you develop a taste for forced labor because by the year twenty-twenty all that sneer is going to get you is a slot in the underclass boiling corpses. Get with the fucking program. Come and touch the neon glyphs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Other than Jake Sisko, how often did you see the Star Trek post TNG cast use styluses with PADDs?

      How often do you see people actually using Pogo styluses with iPad/iPod Touch/iPhones?

      The iPad is largely the first consumer touch screen device that can aptly be compared with a PADD.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vancorps (746090)

        Except for the Archos tablet which was on the market for a whole year prior to the ipad complete with multi-touch. They had older similar form factor tablets that were slightly less capble too. Archos failed to market it properly however as most people didn't even know it was on the market until they were looking for ipads and found it. It's better in every way save for battery life which will require an arm based tablet to compete with since the Archos was built on the Atom.

        It's pretty typical for Apple t

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dangitman (862676)

          It's pretty typical for Apple to claim a first while not actually having been first

          Actually, it's not. I'll wait while you go and find some actual examples...

          Came up empty, huh? In fact, what's common is for bashers to claim Apple claimed a first, when Apple never did claim a first. For example, Apple never claimed they invented the touch-screen tablet computer. Yet you say they did. Why?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Vancorps (746090)

            Actually I didn't say that Apple invented the touch-screen tablet. That was an invention entirely your own.

            Apple claimed to the be the first computer to run without a floppy disk drive. This was entirely incorrect as there were plenty of disk-less machines that booted via PXE.

            They claimed that they invented multi-touch which they then went an patented except that they didn't invent it and in fact purchased it in true 90's era Microsoft style.

            Apple in many ways is behaving like Microsoft in the 1990s. The

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I thought this was Slashdot: Source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues

      That last bit isn't advertised anywhere.

    • by Zocalo (252965)
      I'm not even convinced they originated the idea on Star Trek. I don't have a copy to hand to check, but I vaguely recall Arthur C. Clark writing something about Heywood Floyd reading a newspaper on an electronic tablet like device while en route to the moon in "2001: A Space Odyssey", which was published in 1968.
      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Animats (122034) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:55AM (#33205946) Homepage

        I vaguely recall Arthur C. Clark writing something about Heywood Floyd reading a newspaper on an electronic tablet like device while en route to the moon in "2001: A Space Odyssey", which was published in 1968.

        Yes. That's in the movie. [mercurybrief.com] For the 1960s movie, they had to build the tablet into the table and project film from underneath.

      • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by blincoln (592401) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:26PM (#33206300) Homepage Journal

        I'm not even convinced they originated the idea on Star Trek. I don't have a copy to hand to check, but I vaguely recall Arthur C. Clark writing something about Heywood Floyd reading a newspaper on an electronic tablet like device while en route to the moon in "2001: A Space Odyssey", which was published in 1968.

        It's been awhile since I read the book, but in the film, it seems to be a reading device, not a general-purpose tablet computer. IE its interaction appears limited to the equivalent of flipping through a newspaper, as opposed to running applications.

        On the topic of the PADD, I've been making my way through the various Star Trek series, and one of the things that's really struck me is how even though the Federation has access to advanced computing power and networking technology, crew members still physically hand each other PADDs to transfer information. In some cases, they'll end up with piles of PADDs on their desks if they're studying a particular topic in depth.

        At first I thought that this was something along the lines of how William Gibson didn't think to include cellphones in Neuromancer, because essentially everyone was still using payphones back then. But after more reflection, maybe the Star Trek staff were just more forward-thinking and assumed some sort of draconian DRM scheme that locks data to a particular physical device :).

        • by hitmark (640295)

          and subsequent renditions of "hacking" have had more in common with the pre-internet phone phreaks.

          and what if the newspapers where applications? see wired and comic books in electronic form on ipad right now. Hell, marvel tested flash based online comics some years ago.

        • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

          by StayFrosty (1521445) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:14PM (#33206910)
          Another possibility is that, like iPads, Star Trek PADDs could not multitask well or have multiple windows showing at the same time. The piles of PADDs may be an easier way to have a whole bunch of reference materials open and available at the same time.
        • It's ease of access (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wrexs0ul (515885)

          Same reason I keep a note pad next to the keyboard when programming: I'm faster when I can glance at something instead of switching windows.

          I do hope in the next 500 years though they come-up with something better though. Pinch and move a-la iPad is neat, but I still can't fit everything I need into one spot.

          -Matt

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kryliss (72493)

          Multiple PADDs would be to them like multiple monitors are to many of us. As for why they don't just transfer the info from one PADD to another, it could be a "laziness" factor. Instead of transfering the info, opening the "file" on the other PADD then going to the section of info that they are talking about it's easier to just hand them the PADD with the info already displayed. Also... for the viewer it wouldn't be too much excitement to watch them hitting buttons to transfer the info, download, open etc..

      • by nomadic (141991)
        It's been used countless times before Star Trek I'm sure. Star Trek is the Apple of science fiction, taking other people's innovations and selling it in a slicker package.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I thought Star Wars was the Apple of science fiction? Star Trek had the communicators, matter replicators, and other things I hadn't seen in science fiction before. Granted, I've not read every single story written, but there's nothing is Star Wars I hadn't either seen in a scifi movie or book.

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      It is in fact heavily slanted towards, not exclusively about, Linux and Open Source.
      Since we all love technology, I see no reason to dismiss outright any particular vendor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Actually, the article makes specific points that itis similar to the iPad over other tablets. This primarily comes from the fact that the Okudas specifically focused on ease of use and interfaces that could change to fit the needs of the story (and thus the needs of the fictional user). This is quite a bit different from most of the tablets that came before, those that relied on styluses and desktop OS's, enforcing paradigms that worked much better for a mouse keyboard.

      Once some decent Android(or MeeGo,

      • Once some decent Android(or MeeGo, or WebOS, or Windows Phone 7)

        now, I'm a hardcore iOS fanboy but, c'mon? Windows Phone 7?

        I'd hold more faith that BlackBerry 6 would be a better iOS competitor than WP7.

    • by Wiarumas (919682)
      Moral of the story is that science fiction often predicts future technologies - its not promoting the iPad as a Star Trek gadget. However, most techies already know this, so I agree, its not really news worthy of Slashdot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by captaindomon (870655)
      This isn't about Apple. It's about Star Trek, which puts it on a completely different level.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by zlogic (892404)

        This looks like an Apple ad to me. Ipad is mentioned in every other sentence together with words like "magical" and "quantum leap" and oh my god how it is easy to use and look how Apple created the technology of the 24th century. And the original Macintosh ruled because it was so easy to use!

    • by vertinox (846076)

      The PADDs similar tablets in general, not just Apples iPad.

      I dunno. Star Trek is very inline with Slashdot. I was suprised no one noticed the similarities sooner here.

      I was watching reruns STNG with my dad a few months ago and I saw Picard hand what basically looked like an iPad to riker and I joked "Hey, I bet this is where got the idea haha."

      The device is pretty much the same size and shape and considering every console in STNG is touch based...

      Well... Here you go:

      http://www.milliamp.com/blog/1485/ipad-go [milliamp.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      I thought this was Slashdot: Source for technology related news with a heavy slant towards Linux and Open Source issues. Not Apple HQ.

      If you aren't into science fiction you're not much of a nerd. Had MS cloned the PADD instead of Apple it would be a MS story. It's really about how nowdays, especially for us geezers, the real world has become science fiction. The future is here and now.

      The same general concepts behind the PADD doubtless had some influence in the eventual development of the iPad. But science

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lxs (131946)

      Don't worry. We're having a heated argument about the capabilities of fictional devices in Star Trek. That's pretty much the definition of old school Slashdot.

      Of course if Amiga had made a tablet running BeOS the late nineties would be back and in effect.

  • two words: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:27AM (#33205538)

    Prior Art!

    • 1. Geological
      2. Meteorological
      3. Biological

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        There are terrain and weather apps right now. Two out of three!

      • by blincoln (592401)

        There's a basic Tricorder app in the Android market (it's even got an LCARS-style UI, which has its pros and cons). It's obviously a far cry from the Star Trek props, but it does have some cool data acquisition and graphing features. For example, it can use the electronic compass in the device as a magnetometer, letting you graph the relative field strength as you move around a room. It also lets you view the raw coordinates from the GPS and cell positioning systems, view a spectrogram of sound captured via

    • Prior Art!

      The theatrical prop is prior art only for the patent on the theatrical prop. It is - after all - only a safe, practical, and economical way of sustaining the illusion.

      The secret to Goldin's [1920] illusion lies in the construction of his apparatus. The audience watches a stage assistant climb into a large box resting on a platform. What it does not see is that the platform is actually a second box, in which another assistant is concealed. At some point during the illusion, the bottom of the firs

  • These PADDS also don't run Flash.

    I knew it! Jobs just tried to literally copy this whole PADD concept.

  • not quite. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Triv (181010) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:34AM (#33205628) Journal

    I dunno, it seems to me the iPad and the PADD aren't particularly analogous. iPads are interactive application frameworks; PADDs were usually only used exactly the same way paper is - "look at this data from Omicron Persei 8!" *hands it over. *Reads. "My god. The borometric field is fluctuating!" You rarely saw data uploaded to a PADD and you never saw it running complex applications or interacting with the world; that's what Tricorders were for.

    A PADD was a clipboard, just future-visioned. It served exactly the same purpose, plot-wise, as all the paper in the new Battlestar Galactica being octagonal - it show you you were in a different world.

    • Re:not quite. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Moridineas (213502) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:46AM (#33205816) Journal

      You rarely saw data uploaded to a PADD and you never saw it running complex applications or interacting with the world; that's what Tricorders were for.

      All it really took was reading the article for several examples of how that's not true.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Triv (181010)

        There's ONE concrete example of a PADD being used for anything other than reading text in that article (two if you count the "predictive text input" thing, which I'm not sure I buy as a stand-alone app) and it's from DS9, and it was a plot-point - Sisko was using it as an Identikit to piece together the face of a woman he thought he saw. The rest of it is Okuda talking about how he envisioned PADDs being used rather than how they were portrayed.

        I'm just sayin' - most of the time they were used to further th

    • Re:not quite. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:00PM (#33206016) Homepage

      I dunno, it seems to me the iPad and the PADD aren't particularly analogous. iPads are interactive application frameworks; PADDs were usually only used exactly the same way paper is

      Usually, but not always. ISTR them being used interactively during engineering diagnostics and for data entry in Sickbay.
       
      I do recall an interview in the early 90's where Micheal Okuda stated that a PADD could act like any main display [like the ones on the bridge] and thus, in theory, one could operate the entire ship while strolling down a corridor with a PADD in hand. My copies of the technical manual have long since been consigned to the basement, but I believe those [theoretical] capabilities were discussed there as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      "A PADD was a clipboard, just future-visioned. It served exactly the same purpose, plot-wise, as all the paper in the new Battlestar Galactica being octagonal - it show you you were in a different world."

      Agreed. Seems to me that it would be obvious that future technology would evolve beyond using dead trees with black powder stuck to it.

      The technology that annoyed me the most about Star Trek and TNG was cameras. Here you're sending people over to strange ships and planets and asking "What's going on
    • PADDs were usually only used exactly the same way paper is

      Not! From the article:

      But PADDs were much more powerful than electronic note pads. "We realized that with the networking capabilities we had postulated for the ship, and given the [hypothetical] flexibility of the software, you should be able to fly the ship from the PADD," Okuda said.

      • by Triv (181010)
        What Okuda envisioned with what was actually shown on-screen are different things. While he says it should have been possible to control the Enterprise from a PADD, you never actually seen it done. At least, not so far as I remember.
        • I don't remember ever seeing anyone control the Enterprise with a PADD, but in "Nemesis", Data did control a shuttlecraft with one... in the scene where Picard jumps the "dune buggy" into the shuttle. :)

        • How about this:

          At some point between 2144 and 2154, Arik Soong was able to open all the locks in the San Francisco prison he was being held at using just a PADD. After this incident, he was only allowed to use paper when sketching and writing his ideas.

          Source: http://memory-alpha.org/wiki/PADD [memory-alpha.org] (this is first link in TFA).

  • .."How MorderVonAllem Imagined The Girlfriend... 40 Years Later."

  • What a great concept for an interface. (Stick in all of the usual superlatives and adjectives like immersive, sharable, networkable, topographically deep display and interaction technology. ISNTDDIT [from the John Brunner school of neologism. {See "EngLReySattelServ". }])

    Ultimately, I'd like to see something able to sense our reaching into a hologram which is projecting a synthetic image.

    F&^* the mouse and my flat screens.

    This would rock...

    • by Kuroji (990107)

      Two words: gorilla arm. [wikipedia.org]

      • by hitmark (640295)

        only applicable if the screen is at a close to 90 degree angle vs the desk its resting on. get it down to below 45 and the problem goes away (tho i wonder why apple had to apply for a patent on their ipad case design).

    • "Ultimately, I'd like to see something able to sense our reaching into a hologram which is projecting a synthetic image."

      Manipulating the graphics based on sensing and tracking your motion we can do now, it's the whole creating a hologram without spinning mirrors or suspended projection media that poses the problem, not to mention the user blocking the projection.

      But I digress, I really just wanted to point out that the interface you describe was shown in the first Iron Man movie when Stark is develop
      • It was the kind of interface described in "Johnny Mnemonic" by William Gibson. (Written, or more accurately typed, on an old Underwood manual.)

        You don't need the latest and greatest wizz-bang tech to have one hell of an imagination. :-)

        I have a podcast about Paul Otlet [pbworks.com] and his vision for a kind of Google years before there was even an internet.

  • by trickofperspective (180714) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:41AM (#33205734) Homepage

    When I can casually toss it onto my desk like Picard without worrying about the thing shattering, it will have officially replaced books.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jbarr (2233)

      Great observation!

      Current technology in the iPad, while quite decent, is still quite fragile. I was discussing the pros and cons of the Kindle and the iPad to some family members, and they were asking what were some of the "cons" of these devices. Among other things, I said, "Well, you can step on a book and it won't shatter, you can drop a book in a puddle, shake it off, and it's usually still readable." The point being that books, while taking up far more space than e-versions, they are amazingly rugged a

      • [Physical books] are amazingly rugged and durable--something that the likes of the Kindle or iPad can't yet claim.

        OTOH, a fire can wipe out your entire collection of physical books in minutes, but e-books can be backed up remotely at trivial cost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Tossing it onto your desk like Picard without worrying about the thing Shatnering ?
    • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:47PM (#33206588) Journal

      Oh, to casually toss Picard onto my desk...

    • When I can casually toss it onto my desk like Picard without worrying about the thing shattering, it will have officially replaced books.

      Well here you go [otterbox.com].

  • less space than a nomad... lame.

    There's an episode (Voyager, I think) where crew are handed out single letters from home on a PADD. Looks like their hard disks were really, really small.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hitmark (640295)

      nah, the drm just didnt allow it to be downloaded anywhere else but astrometrics.

    • They were more like paper cheap.

      Doctor was signing and giving away PADDs loaded with a hologram of him singing in Virtuoso [memory-alpha.org].
      And you can often see characters using several PADDs when researching something - as one would do with notepads as opposed to what one might do with a notebook.

      • by bondsbw (888959)
        Looking forward to a day with $10 limited-use tablets... hopefully in the next 5 years or so...
  • iPad vs PADD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:43AM (#33205752)
    I always just took it as a given that the PADD was a large part of the inspiration behind the iPad. I mean, even the name pays homage. I can easily envision someone like Steve Jobs sitting down with a designer and some episodes of ST:TNG and saying "Now make me on of those".

    It's pretty apparent that the set designers on ST:TNG were visionaries. It's pretty difficult to accurately envision the future, even if it's only 20 years ahead of time. Credit needs to be given to those guys. I just hope that Apple had the decency to give them free iPads when they were released.
    • "Make it look more like the Mac."

      The PADD is just the display portion of the iPad.

      It would have come as a very great surprise to people in the 80s how microelectronics have changed the face what is actually possible.

      The limitations of the iPad are ones of the physical limitations of human being holding them.

      Your arms are only so strong, so long and so jointed.

      The electronics and computing power we can cram into those dimensions may grow as Moore's Law continues apace but our arms and our eyes aren't going t

    • by discord5 (798235)

      It's pretty apparent that the set designers on ST:TNG were visionaries

      The clothes designers though...

    • most likely increased their creativity. I would bet if they had a large budget then the PADD would have not been as visionary.

  • Very simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:45AM (#33205806) Homepage

    The iPad is EXACTLY what the PADD would have been had the Ferengi designed it instead of someone in the Federation.

    • by Wh15per (1526101) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:59AM (#33206004)
      Well, Steve Jobs does have big ears...
    • The iPad is EXACTLY what the PADD would have been had the Ferengi designed it instead of someone in the Federation.

      So what would that make the Android tablet, Pakled?

    • by Bemopolis (698691) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:02PM (#33206048)
      Whereas Microsoft Courier is exactly what the PADD would have been had the Pakleds designed it.
    • by kindbud (90044)

      And the ASUS Eee Pad is exactly what the iPad would be if Dr. Noonien Soong had designed it.

      And the Nintendo DSi is what the iPad would be if the Japanese had designed it. Oh wait...

    • Hey, don't knock Ferengi engineering. When was the last time their holodecks malfunctioned? Well, there was that one time in "Our Man Bashir", but that happened cause the Federation needed to dump a massive amount to data into the station computer and started deleting shit willy nilly. Otherwise, their (entertainment) shit, It Just Works.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by darien.train (1752510)

      The iPad is EXACTLY what the PADD would have been had the Ferengi designed it instead of someone in the Federation.

      Yes! Although the Ferengi would have gone the other way on the "Freedom from Porn" thing. They would have banned all apps that feature women in clothing.

  • by CaseM (746707) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:47AM (#33205832)

    I can't predict the future, but I'm quite sure Steve's Job's brain, submerged in a nutrient-rich emulsion, will be wheeled out at the 2200 WWDC to announce the new iPad.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:51AM (#33205886) Homepage Journal

    These mobile computing terminals bear a striking resemblance to Apple's iPad

    Perhaps it depends on the level at which you judge things. For me, for something to "resemble an iPad," it needs to have a third party inserted between the developer and the user.

    Geordi: "Hey, what if we reroute The Borg's root command through the subspace neutrino beam? Their ship will collapse like a house of balloons!"
    Riker: "Checkmate!"
    Picard: "Mr. Data, make it so."
    Data: "Aye aye, captain." [fingers blur on PADD, then stop. Data just sits there.]
    Picard: "Mr. Data?"
    Data: "Yes, captain?"
    Picard: "Are you ready?!"
    Data: "Waiting for software approval by the Ferengi, sir."
    Picard: *sigh* "Initiate auto-destruct sequence."

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:47PM (#33207312)

      ...Data: "Aye aye, captain." [fingers blur on PADD, then stop. Data just sits there.]
      Picard: "Mr. Data?"
      Data: "Yes, captain?"
      Picard: "Are you ready?!"

      Data: "Custom software deployed sir. Enemy ship collapsing"

      How is this possible?

      Because of course they are members of the iPhone Enterprise development program [apple.com] and can thus enjoy in-ship distribution... :-)

  • It's amazing really (Score:5, Informative)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:54AM (#33205932) Homepage

    It's amazing how much you can 'predict' given nearly a quarter century of hindsight. Not to mention that much of this technology is older than Okuda & Co. would have you believe.

    I saw my first flat screen display with software configurable buttons in 1982, as this was the interface used to operate the simulation computers that drove the trainers for the MK88/2 and MK98/0 (Trident Backfit and Trident-I respectively) missile fire and launch control systems. (Though the screens were activated via a stylus rather than true touch screens.) The systems weren't new even then, they were at least six years old. (And thus designed even earlier.) For that matter, the many of the 'buttons' on the fire control console themselves (whose design dates to the early/mid 1970's) were actually miniaturized slide projectors that could display different messages under software control. Heck, the MK88/1 Poseidon system could (under software control) display different colors on a single button (though not different message text as the 88/2 and 98 could) as far back as the late 60's.

    There's also sonar and torpedo fire control equipment from the same (early 70's) era with software configurable interfaces.

    For that matter, as early as my VIC-20, the buttons on the keyboard could do various things depending on the software that was running at the time.

    • by kindbud (90044)

      And don't forget the old mnemonic computers that were constructed with stone knives and bearskin.

  • not just star trek (Score:4, Informative)

    by emagery (914122) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:56AM (#33205968)
    Note the early appearance of an iPad concept in Demolition Man
  • by eshbums (1557147) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:07PM (#33206086)
    Maybe Al wouldn't have needed to beat on Ziggy all the time on Quantum Leap if he wouldn't cover up the antenna with his cigar hand.
  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @12:30PM (#33206348) Homepage Journal

    Twenty Three years later than what? Maybe you mean 23 years *after* Stanley Kubrick envisioned the iPad in 1968 for the movie 2001?

    Stanley was off by only 9 years, a pretty good prediction, and unlike Star Trek, which almost never showed anything on the PADD, in 2001, the characters are shown watching full-screen, wirelessly streamed video to the tablet.

    Frankly, the PADD was a easy device to envision, especially since you see Kirk dealing with essentially the same device in almost every TOS episode (It's a clipboard with lights).

    And for some reason, the best part about TOS was gone from every Rick Berman Star Trek that followed: the background jibber-jabber on the bridge, that stuff about "gravity is down to point-eight" that is heard to make the bridge sound like there's A LOT going on... All the other bridges are dead-quiet, even the "earlier" NX-01 Enterprise.

    Anyhow; Point is: Nothing new under the sun, and, to anyone who keeps his eyes open, this stuff has been around since long before ST:TNG, it's just that the internet kiddies only remember TNG because that's what *they* grew up with.

    Now Get Off My Lawn.

  • and G0atse (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @01:07PM (#33206850) Journal

    Trek also predicted g0atse when Spock looked into that secret glowing box and went nuts.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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