I didn’t think the multimedia newspaper tablet demonstrated by Knight-Ridder in 1994 could have been made with the technology available at the time. And, of course, it turns out that it wasn’t.
After watching and posting about the video, I contacted Roger F. Fidler, who at the time headed the Knight-Ridder Information Design Lab and now is director of the digital publishing program at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. In an email, Fidler said:
The tablet you saw in the video was a plastic mockup. The page images shown on the device were taken from a computer program we developed to demonstrate how a multimedia newspaper edition might appear on a future tablet. At the time we were working with Toshiba and Apple Computer to pursue this vision. Unfortunately, development of the display technology required to make a thin, lightweight, low-power and relatively inexpensive tablet took much longer than we expected in 1994.
About 16 years longer, it seems, because the sort of impossible product envisioned in 1994 may now finally be coming to life.