Did Steve Jobs Steal The iPad Concept From Microsoft… Or The Other Way Around?

Image via Flickr/ mallox

Steve Jobs may have once accused Bill Gates of “ripping off his ideas,” but when it comes to the now-iconic iPad, Gates’ Microsoft beat Apple to the punch. Or did it?

According to “Steve Jobs,” the new biography of the late Apple co-founder written by Walter Isaacson, a Microsoft employee who continued to annoy Jobs by bragging about the company’s revolutionary tablet, inspiring Jobs to direct his Apple designers to design what would later become the iPad.

This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software,” Jobs once said. “But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, “Fuck this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.

And it’s true, Microsoft did release a tablet computer a full decade before Apple launched the iPad. Two years after its first tablet, Microsoft produced an improved model, which integrated color and used the XP Tablet operating system. And although it launched 10 years later than Microsoft’s first design, Bill Gates even acknowledged the superiority of Apple’s iPad during a 2012 interview with Charlie Rose.

Jobs “did some things better than I did,” Gates said. “His timing in terms of when it came out, the engineering work, just the package that was put together. The tablets we had done before weren’t as thing, they weren’t as attractive.

But did Gates actually originate the idea of a tablet computer, or did Jobs? Evidence points to the latter, as Jobs spoke of the concept as early as 1983.

Apple’s strategy is really simple,” Jobs said in during a 1983 talk at the Center for Design Innovation. “What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes. That’s what we want to do and we want to do it this decade. And we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.

Hey may have been about 17 years off in his prediction, but Jobs had the idea back even before Apple released the Lisa, let along the Macintosh—and certainly before Microsoft devised its own tablet.

We give this round to Jobs.