Astronaut Frank Poole watches a news broadcast on a tablet in '2001: A Space Odyssey.'

Stanley Kubrick imagines slates and tablets, 1968.

by Bob Page on 7 January 2010

Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” seems to have prototyped the design of dozens of digital tablets and slates being announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

slate2-poole-2001In this scene from the 1968 film, astronauts Frank Poole and Dave Bowman watch a BBC news broadcast on slates while eating breakfast. Their slates are slightly larger and thinner than the tablets at CES.

The year 2010 — year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac — is shaping up as the year of the tablet. The chief executive of Nvidia Corporation, Jen-Hsun Huang, told Reuters that 2010 begins a tablet revolution. An Apple announcement is expected for 27 January, and companies making tablet news in Las Vegas include Dell, HP, Lenovo,  Microsoft, Motorola, Nvidia, Samsung, Vizio and others.

In September 2009, Brian Chen of compiled a tablet image gallery starting with an 1888 patent drawing. Contemporary images start with the 1993 Apple Newton.

(People in the late 1960s expected food served in outer space to look disgusting. Two memorable consumer products: Tang and Space Food Sticks.)

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Opinions - iPad is becoming the generic tablet brand - discussion forums
20 June 2011 at 3:00 pm

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1 Sheji Ho 13 January 2010 at 9:32 am

Wow… that food looks more disgusting than your average airplane meals.

Sheji Ho

2 Bob Page 13 January 2010 at 10:10 am

Sheji, agreed. The movie also contains a scene set aboard a Pan Am space shuttle, in which passengers sip food through straws.

People in the late 1960s probably expected food in outer space to look disgusting. There was Tang, and Space Food Sticks — kind of an interesting development story out of Pillsbury. I’ll attach a Space Food Sticks commercial.

3 Cory M. Grenier 26 January 2010 at 3:24 am

I guess we’ll see what kind of food they serve on Virgin Galactic! Regarding Lenovo’s latest tablet device at CES, viewers can check out the new IdeaPad U1 hybrid at

The IdeaPad U1 uniquely has dual operating systems – Win 7 and Linux ‘Skylight’ and dual processors Intel CULV CPU and a Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU to allow the tablet to separate from a notebook PC base. Great article – Kubrick was a polymath futurist and one of the best film directors to date.

4 Bob Page 13 August 2010 at 9:04 am

Chris Foresman wrote an informative introduction to the tablets of Star Trek for Ars Tecnica on 10 August 2010. The article features interviews with Star Trek production designers Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda and Doug Drexler. It’s fascinating that Kubrick and his team had come to the same conclusions about the need for a software-controlled interface.

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