Black & white photos of the 035 prototype of the iPad, built between 2002 and 2004, or 6-8 years before the first iPad was released, were noticed by the folks over at NetworkWorld in Apple’s court filings for their ongoing case with Samsung. Now, BuzzFeed FWD has released full color photos of the prototype sitting next to the iPad 2, dwarfing the latter in comparison.
The original iPad looks very similar to the second-generation iBook G3, just without the ports and hinged screen. Translucent plastic was Apple’s material of choice in the early 2000s, much like brushed aluminum is now, so it makes sense that this prototype is encased in the material.
But that’s not the only way in which prototype 035 is similar to the iBook. Look at how thick it is! Roughly 1 inch, or about 2.5 times thicker than the current iPads on the market. It doesn’t appear to be significantly thinner than the iBook, and perhaps that’s the reason this version of Apple’s tablet never made it to market. After all, if a tablet is just as thick as its laptop counterpart, what’s the point of using the former if it just as unwieldy as the latter? This just emphasizes the role that the thinness of modern tablets plays in ensuring that they are filling a niche in the market, i.e. when you want to just relax on the couch, in bed, or even on the toilet (you know it’s true) with a magazine-sized computer.