Does EO-440/PenPoint (1992) = Apple iPad (2010)?

eo_andMe.jpgSomeone on the GO/EO Alumni group I am on asked:

“Does EO-440/PenPoint (1992) = Apple iPad (2010)?”

Here’s the best answer…



I could go on and on why the GO/EO machines (eventually known as the Personal Communicator) didn’t make it back then – now that I know what really happened along with having been forced to recreate and dig up the past in the last few years. Those pages of history will be put into their place in proper time.

As for comparisons, let’s see…both are built on 20 year old message-based operating systems ala Smalltalk, implemented in C…using a gesture user model and application framework built from the ground up for mobility and communications. Both bury the concept of files and the application life cycle beneath a non-desktop metaphor.

The iPad is solid state, instant on as originally envisioned by GO. It has integrated wireless, its a phone (I just made several calls on it yesterday via Skype – putting a phone to your ear is not the future, or should I say the EO is back to the future).

Both are built with the mouse and keyboard out of mind. The finger is a stylus. The iPad has handwriting recognition capability, it has ink capability, there is a chinese handwriting recognition, and besides a myriad of drawing apps (there is a pen stylus for them as well) the old ParaGraph guys (now phatware) have apps that show handwriting recognition and ink can be an awesome experience on the iPad (that is about as close to having anything to do with a Newton – which is a laughable comparison IMHO).

Both have integrated address book, calendar and email…and apps that could be purchased for just about every category of use (here’s another ironic history tidbit: the original technology that became Flash – which of course Apple abhors for many good reasons – was developed on PenPoint and shipped for the EO).

Yes, you can even appease a fat cat from a gondola with it (though Apple’s marketing is slightly better doncha think?)

Putting aside advances in hardware, the iPad in many ways is inferior to what the GO/EO machines would have been. For one, I think the phone metaphor has its limits, but at least its not the old WIMP interface stuck on a digitizer like the ridiculous tablets from MS.

The iPad (like the iPhone) is disruptive technology , as the GO machines should have been, maybe hard to see for techies, but when a 7 year old, and a 70 year old fight over using it as I saw yesterday, its easy to see where this stuff is going, and where it should have been years ago.


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