I’m reading 2001: A Space Odyssey at the moment and was struck by this passage in which Arthur C. Clarke essentially describes the iPad, some 40 years before its invention by Apple.
He would plug his foolscap-sized newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth.
He then continues to describe the ‘newspad’ and its impact on the printed newspaper.
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 noted the items that interested him. Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-sized rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen, and he could read it with comfort.
Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word ‘newspaper’, of course, was an anachronistic hang-over into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorb the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.
An incredible visionary.