Usually it's only forthcoming models of the iPad that get attention. In fact, there's a whole layer of the blogosphere devoted to peddling rumors about Apple products.
But today one of those bloggers, Yoni Heisler of Network World, has some gossip on an iPad of yore. Searching through court documents made public in the Apple-Samsung lawsuit, Heisler found photos of an un-sleekly named device called "the 035 mockup" that famed Apple product designer Jonathan Ive and his team were working on from 2002 to 2004, according to Heisler. As the name conceals, the 035 mockup was an early prototype for the iPad. Witness the birth of Apple's famous tablet in the photos below.
This very early version of the IPad is pretty thick, right? Also, although the photos are without color and a tad grainy, this iPad prototype appears to be white. Remember, the original iPad released in 2010 was only available in black. It'd take a whole year for a white Apple tablet to be available to the public with the release of the iPad 2 in 2011.
"I recognize this as one of the models that we made as part of the design process, as part of the exploration," Ive said of the 035 mockup in court testimony. As SlashGear's Chris Burns points out, the early 2000s prototype shows conclusively just how long a tablet had been in the works at Apple, something that Steve Jobs has alluded to in the past. We reached out to Apple to confirm the photos and will update if we get a response.
While the release of the photo is yet more good publicity for Apple (as if it needs it), Apple and Samsung can agree on at least one thing in the current litigation over mobile device patent violations: Both companies want to keep their product designs secret. A U.S. district court judge rejected several requests from both companies to not make certain confidential documents public. Though in the case of the 035, little is at risk since the pictures are nearly a decade old. It'd be designs for newer products--say, an "iPad Mini," "iPhone 5" or "Galaxy S IV"--that Apple and Samsung would really have to worry about.
See the rest of the photos of the early iPad prototype at Network World.