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Earliest known photos of an Apple iPad prototype

Well before the iPhone, and going back all the way to the early 2000s, Apple had been working on tablet prototypes that would eventually form the groundwork for the original iPad

By Yoni Heisler on Wed, 07/18/12 - 9:32am.

During the course of the deposition, Ive at one point is shown photos of a three-dimensional mockup of a tablet that Apple produced as part of the discovery process. It's referred to as the 035 mockup or prototype.

Ive is then asked if he'd seen the mockup before, and if so, when.

He responds that he has seen the 035 mockup before and adds:

My recollection of first seeing it is very hazy, but it was, I'm guessing, sometime between 2002 and 2004, some but it was I remember seeing this and perhaps models similar to this when we were first exploring tablet designs that ultimately became the iPad.

So the takeaway is that Apple was tinkering with tablet prototypes as early as 2002.


Next, Ive is asked, "Do you recognize the 035 mockup as a mockup that the Apple model shop produced?"

Ive responds,

I actually don't know which model shop made this, but I recognize this as a model that was produced during our exploration.

Next, Ive is questioned further about the development of the 035 tablet mockup.

Next, Ive is asked if he's aware of any other tablet mockup created prior to March 2004 that is closer to the '889 patent than the 035 mockup. The '889 patent of course is the patent that embodies Apple's iPad and the one Apple is asserting against Samsung.

Ive responds:

I'm not aware of any that are closer or less close. I recall this model; I, of course, recall this patent, and I can see many similarities.

So what did this mysterious 035 mockup actually look like? Well, I looked back at some older filings in the Samsung/Apple case and stumbled across the 035 mockup in question. And now with the added context from Ive's deposition, these photos may be the earliest iPad mockups you'll ever see. And keep in mind that this was a tablet mockup Apple had in the works for years before they introduced the iPad.

Below, you'll note that the mockup is significantly thicker than what Apple eventually ended up shipping in 2010. Also note that there doesn't appear to be a home button on the device.

And just because it's a mockup doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the Apple logo.

And here's where the thickness really shows. It almost looks like an oversized version of an old school iPod.

And now some side angles.

A more head-on view.

I'm not sure why Apple included this photo in the bunch, but it's random enough to warrant inclusion.

Behold! An unidentified man "using" the  035 tablet mockup. He looks confused. Perhaps someone should tell him the device isn't turned on.

And here, a closeup of the mockup's rounded corner.

And so there you have it, what may very well be the oldest known photos of early iPad prototypes from the early 2000s.

Update: New color photos of the 035 mockup have become available