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GRiD 2260 134241 Padenrich Ave.jpg
GRiDPad 2260 in tablet mode
Also known asGRiD PalmPad (235# models)
GRiD Convertible (22#0 models)
DeveloperGrid Systems Corporation
TypeTablet computer
or 2-in-1 PC
Release datesep 1989; 33 years ago (sep 1989)

GRiDPad was a trademarked name for a series of pen computing tablets built by Grid Systems Corporation.

The GRiDPad 1900, released in 1989, is regarded as the first commercially successful tablet computer. Jeff Hawkins went on to use the GRiDPad as a predecessor for his best known-invention, the Palm Pilot.


The GRiDPad 1900 measured 9 by 12 by 1.4 inches (229 mm × 305 mm × 36 mm) and weighed 4.5 pounds (2.0 kg).[1] The main distinguishing aspect was its touchscreen interface with a stylus, a pen-like tool to aid with precision in a touchscreen device. The stylus was able to use handwriting-recognition software. The GRiDPad also included these features:[1]

  • 10 MHz 80C86 processor
  • MS-DOS operating system – the popular operating system used by IBM PC-compatible personal computers
  • A monochromatic Color Graphics Adapter (CGA) display resolution of 640x400
  • 256KB or 512KB battery-backed RAM cards
  • 1MB or 2MB of system memory
  • One serial port, two ATA-FLASH slots, and an expansion bus connector


Device Model No. Processor Memory Storage Display Software Weight & dimensions Introduced Notes
GridPad 1900 Intel 8086 (10 MHz) 1 MB RAM PCMCIA 10", 640 × 400 B&W MSDOS 3.3, GridPen 4.5 lb (2.0 kg), 12.5 x 9.25 x 1.5" Sep 1989 1st tablet
GridPad HD/RC 1910 NEC v20 (9.5 MHz) 2 MB RAM 1–2 PCMCIA; 20 MB HDD option 10", 640 × 400 B&W backlit MSDOS 3.3, GridPen 4.5 lb (2.0 kg), 12.5 x 9.25 x 1.5" Jul 1991 20MB HDD on HD; RC has 2 PCMCIA and wireless option
PalmPad 2350/51/52 NEC v20 (9.5 MHz) 2–2.5 MB RAM PCMCIA 6.5", 640 × 400 B&W backlit MSDOS 5.0, PenRight 2.8 lb (1.3 kg), 9 x 6.25 x 1.9"
(318 x 235 x 38 mm)
Mar 1992 1st Wearable; Wireless 902-928 spread spectrum radio on 2352
GridPad SL 2050 Intel 80386 (20 MHz) 20 MB RAM 40–120 MB HDD; PCMCIA 10", VGA, 32 greyscale Windows 3.1 for Pen, PenRight 2.26kg, 292 × 236 × 37.6 mm 1992 Licensed variation of Samsung Penmaster
GridPad Convertible 2260/2270 80386/80486SL (25 MHz) 4–20 MB RAM 80–120 MB HDD; PCMCIA 9.5", VGA, 64 greyscale Windows 3.1 for Pen, PenRight 9.6 lb (4.4 kg) Dec 1992 1st Convertible; Screen moves up to reveal full keyboard; Also sold as AST PenExec 3/25SL and 4/25SL
GridPad 2390 7.5-MHz 8088-compatible CPU 4 MB RAM PCMCIA 320 x 256 MSDOS 3.3, GEOS 2.0, PenRight 0.95 lb (0.43 kg), 7 x 4.25 x 1" Jun 1993 Casio Zoomer/ Z-7000, XL7000, Tandy Z-PDA and AST Gridpad 2390

Because of its use for inventory management, the United States Army specified more durable versions of the tablet made out of magnesium that were not sold to the general public. The US Army specially ordered magnesium because it is a strong yet light metal, making it ideal for use in demanding environments.[2][3]

According to a patent submitted in 1992 by an engineer at GRiD Systems, the touchscreen in the GRiDPad works by magnifying an internal Cartesian plane and calculating the displacement.[4] Further patents by Jeff Hawkins describe flipping the screen orientation between landscape and portrait.[5]


Because of its text-recognition interface, the GRiDPad was marketed toward specialist consumers who would use the tablet for bookkeeping. The GRiDPad was "designed to streamline the chores of workers such as route delivery drivers and claims adjusters, who typically recorded data on paper forms."[6] Some of the agencies that used the GRiDPad included Chrysler, San Jose Police Department,[7] and even the US Government. The first commercial customer to use the GRiDPad and who contributed to the overall requirements was Best Foods Baking Group, a division of CPC International.

The average selling price for one unit was US$2,370 without software, and $3,000 with software.[1][3] It was so successful that it sold approximately $30 million in its best year.[8]


Although the GriDPad had the same operating system as personal computers, it was not designed to be a replacement for computers. Hawkins once said, "I never saw pen computers as a replacement for a full PC..."[8] Although it did not replace computers, it did pave the way for other companies to invest more into tablet computers.

Not only did the GRiDPad start paving the way for tablet computers, it also helped propel Jeff Hawkins' career. Hawkins used the same stylus technology to develop his most commercially successful product, the Palm Pilot, making the GRiDPad its predecessor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Barnett, Shawn. "Jeff Hawkin". The man who almost single-highhandedly revived the handheld computer industry. Pen Computing Magazine.
  2. ^ Unknown. "GRidPad 1910". Computing History. Archived from the original on 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-02-14.
  3. ^ a b McCracken, Harry. "The Long Fail: A Brief History of Unsuccessful Tablet Computers". PCWorld.
  4. ^ Liou, Kwang-Wan. "Optical Encoding Methods and Device". United States Patent. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  5. ^ Hawkins, Jeff. "Display Output Rotation". United States Patent. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  6. ^ Daly, J. "Grid portable writes a new script". COMPUTER WORLD. Archived from the original on 2013-07-21.
  7. ^ Daly, J. "San Jose police first to use Gridpad". COMPUTER WORLD. Archived from the original on 2013-07-21.
  8. ^ a b Atkinson, P (2008). "A bitter pill to swallow: the rise and fall of the tablet computer". Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive (SHURA). Retrieved 13 February 2012.