Early tablet computers

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HP Compaq tablet PC with rotating/removable keyboard

Early tablet computers included many of the features of personal computers. These devices ran adapted versions of Microsoft Windows or desktop Linux and were capable of running many of the same applications. Most featured pen-based input.

In 2001 Microsoft announced a set of specifications for the Tablet PC, which popularized that term.[1]

Apple's introduction of the iPad in January 2010 signaled a transition from these earlier tablets.[dubious ][2]

System software[edit]

Microsoft Windows[edit]

Further information: Microsoft Tablet PC § History

The Compaq_Concerto was released in 1993 with a Compaq-modified version of MS-DOS 6.2.

In 2002, original equipment manufacturers' released the first tablet PCs designed to the Microsoft Tablet PC specification. This generation of Microsoft Tablet PCs were designed to run Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, the Tablet PC version of Windows XP.[3] This version of Microsoft Windows superseded Microsoft's earlier pen computing operating environment, Windows for Pen Computing 2.0. After releasing Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Microsoft designed the successive desktop computer versions of Windows, Windows Vista and Windows 7, to support pen computing intrinsically.


One early implementation of a Linux tablet was the ProGear by FrontPath. The ProGear used a Transmeta chip and a resistive digitizer. The ProGear initially came with a version of Slackware Linux, but could later be bought with Windows 98. Because these computers are general purpose IBM PC compatible machines, they can run many different operating systems. However, the device is no longer for sale and FrontPath has ceased operations. It is important to note that many touch screen sub-notebook computers can run any of several Linux distributions with little customization.

X.org supports screen rotation and tablet input through Wacom drivers, and handwriting recognition software from both the Qt-based Qtopia and GTK+-based Internet Tablet OS provide promising free and open source systems for future development.

Open source note taking software in Linux includes applications such as Xournal (which supports PDF file annotation), Gournal (a Gnome based note taking application), and the Java-based Jarnal (which supports handwriting recognition as a built-in function). Before the advent of the aforementioned software, many users had to rely on on-screen keyboards and alternative text input methods like Dasher. There is a stand alone handwriting recognition program available, CellWriter, in which users must write letters separately in a grid.

A number of Linux based OS projects are dedicated to tablet PCs. Since all these are open source, they are freely available and can be run or ported to devices that conform to the tablet PC design. In 2003, Hitachi introduced the VisionPlate rugged tablet[4] that was used as a point-of-sale device.[5] Maemo (rebranded MeeGo in 2010), a Debian GNU/Linux based graphical user environment, was developed for the Nokia Internet Tablet devices (770, N800, N810 & N900). It is currently[timeframe?] in generation 5, and has a vast array of applications available in both official and user supported repositories. The Ubuntu Netbook Remix edition, as well as the Intel sponsored Moblin project, both have touchscreen support integrated into their user interfaces. Canonical Ltd has hinted at better supporting tablets with the Unity UI for Ubuntu 10.10.[6]

TabletKiosk currently offers a hybrid digitizer / touch device running openSUSE Linux.


Main article: webOS

Initially developed by Palm, Inc. in January 2009 as the Palm OS, webOS was purchased by HP to be their proprietary operating system running on the Linux kernel. Versions 1.0 to 2.1 of webOS uses the patched Linux 2.6.24 kernel. HP has continued to develop the webOS platform for use in multiple products, including smartphones, tablet PCs, and printers. HP announced plans on March 2011 for a version of webOS by the end of 2011 to run within the Microsoft Windows operating system to be used in HP desktop and notebook computers in 2012.

HP TouchPad, the first addition to HP's tablet family, was shipped out with version 3.0.2.[7] Version 3.0.2 gives the tablet support for multitasking, applications, and HP Synergy. HP have also claimed in its webcatalog to support over 200 apps with its release.[8]

On 18 August 2011, HP announced that it would discontinue production of all webOS devices.[9][10]


Main articles: Maemo and MeeGo

Nokia entered the tablet space with the Nokia 770 running Maemo, a Debian-based Linux distribution custom-made for their Nokia Internet Tablet line. The product line continued with the N900 which is the first to add phone capabilities. Intel, following the launch of the UMPC, started the Mobile Internet Device initiative, which took the same hardware and combined it with a Linux operating system custom-built for portable tablets. Intel co-developed the lightweight Moblin operating system following the successful launch of the Atom CPU series on netbooks.

MeeGo is an operating system developed by Intel and Nokia to support Netbooks, Smartphones and tablet PCs. In 2010, Nokia and Intel combined the Maemo and Moblin projects to form MeeGo. The first[clarification needed] MeeGo powered tablet PC is the Neofonie WeTab. The WeTab uses an extended version of the MeeGo operating system called WeTab OS. WeTab OS adds runtimes for Android and Adobe AIR and provides a proprietary user interface optimized for the WeTab device.[citation needed]


Mac OS X Modbook[edit]

Apple has never sold a tablet PC computer running Mac OS X, although OS X does have support for handwriting recognition via Inkwell. However, Apple sells the iOS-based iPad Tablet computer, introduced in 2010.

Before the introduction of the iPad, Axiotron introduced the Modbook, a heavily modified Apple MacBook, Mac OS X-based tablet computer at Macworld in 2007.[11] The Modbook used Apple's Inkwell handwriting and gesture recognition, and used digitization hardware from Wacom. To support the digitizer on the integrated tablet, the Modbook was supplied with a third-party driver called TabletMagic. Wacom does not provide drivers for this device.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Page, M Microsoft Tablet PC Overview, TransmetaZone, 2000-12-21
  2. ^ Grossman, Lev (1 April 2010). "Do We Need the iPad?". Time. Retrieved 8 December 2011. "But to say the iPad is revolutionary isn't quite right. There's nothing like it out there, so there's no regime to change." 
  3. ^ Microsoft (2005), Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 Hardware Requirements, www.microsoft.com, retrieved 2009-03-14 
  4. ^ "Device profile: Hitachi VisionPlate wireless tablet". 18 February 2003. 
  5. ^ Sherri Buri McDonald. "Restaurateur Keeps In Touch With Trends". The Register-Guard. 
  6. ^ "Ubuntu gets multitouch support, Unity netbook UI". eWeek. 
  7. ^ "HP Touchpad 9.7 Inch Tablet PC". TabletPCfan. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  8. ^ "HP Touchpad Catalog". HP. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "HP Confirms Discussions with Autonomy Corporation plc Regarding Possible Business Combination; Makes Other Announcements". Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "HP kills webOS, spins off PC business to focus on software". Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  11. ^ [1]

External links[edit]