1968: The fictional birth of Apple’s iPad in 2001: A Space Odyssey?

I recently read Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and couldn’t help but take interest in the futuristic technologic predictions made in the book, written from a 1968 perspective.  One of the more fascinating ones involves a device Dr. Heywood Floyd uses to scan over worldwide news headlines during his shuttle flight to the moon.  While it lacks the social networking perspective of the internet, it has a pretty interesting take on the news part.  Just interesting.

Excerpt from Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey:

“There was plenty to occupy his time, even if he did nothing but sit and read.  When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-size Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth.  One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad.  Switching to the display unit’s short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and notes the items that interested him.  Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-size rectrangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort.  When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

Floyd sometimes wondered it the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man’s quest for perfect communications.  Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hours, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased.  (That very word “newspaper,” of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronic.)  The text was update automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the everchanging flow of information from the news statellites.”



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