Two Of The iPad’s Creators Talk About Its History In An Interview

We recently saw the iPad celebrate its tenth anniversary and while it’s sometimes difficult to believe it’s been that long, it also feels like we’ve had the iPad forever. But we’d imagine it’s an even stranger feeling if you worked on the thing. Two people who did, Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, have been speaking out.

The pair were key Apple employees at the time of the iPad’s creation and they’ve shared some anecdotes that make for interesting reading.

The extensive interview started out with questions related to how Apple saw the iPad, and what the direction was.

Imran: We always had a good understanding of where we wanted the iPad to be in people’s lives. The story of the iPad goes way back beyond before the phone. It started out as this project called Q79. Q79 was the product that was built around multitouch exploration. So we were, at the time, looking at “How can we actually move computing forward? What’s wrong with the Mac? And what’s keeping it from being really, really more responsive and more direct?” A lot of those questions are answered in terms of “How do we actually achieve a more direct and more responsive input through multitouch?” and that program was built around creating a product line called Q79.

Notably, they spoke about the lack of any cameras on the original iPad.  And when the iPad did gain cameras, Apple was surprised how many people actually used them.

Bethany: We talked about the hope that it would be kind of this photo frame, like ‘“How are they going to get the photos on it?” We actually didn’t believe that people would walk around taking pictures with their iPad. It was actually a funny internal conversation when we started seeing people outside taking their iPad with them and taking photos on vacation. I don’t think we actually thought people would use it that way — and they ultimately did.

Imran: But the [iPad] camera is super funny. That’s the other thing that we didn’t anticipate being so big. But it was a segment of the population at the time that really was using the camera more than anything else. So I remember very clearly at the 2012 Olympics in London, if you looked around the stadium, you saw a lot of people using an iPad as a camera and generally that was people that just needed to have a bigger viewfinder for vision reasons, etc. Then seeing that, we went back in and redesigned the camera experience on the iPad — recognizing that this is going to be a thing that we just can’t get people away from because they want this larger viewfinder.

People using huge iPads to take photos or record video during events is now something that we all see and then cringe about. Historically the cameras inside iPads haven’t been particularly great, but that changed with the 2018 iPad Pro.

The pair also discussed how difficult it is inside Apple to promote the iPad when the iPhone is such a big deal. Chaudhri mentioned that the iPhone meant some business decisions ultimately went against Apple’s tablet.

You can read the full interview with the pair over at Input, and it’s absolutely worth your time.

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