Steve Jobs Created the iPad to Show One Microsoft Employee What a Tablet Really Can Be



The iPad has been a staggering success for Apple since its inception in 2009, but if it wasn’t for one loud-mouthed Microsoft employee, the tablet may have never been born. Steve Jobs decided that he would create the device after listening to a Microsoft employee boast about a Windows tablet over dinner. When he got home that night, Steve said, “Fuck this, let’s show him what a tablet really can be.”

The story is just one of a number of revelations discovered in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography that went on sale earlier this week. British tabloid The Daily Mail points to the story in which Steve revealed where the inspiration for Apple’s iPad came from:

[Bill] Gates was annoyed that the guy kept revealing information about the tablet PC he had developed for Microsoft. “He’s our employee and he’s revealing out intellectual property,” Gates recounted. Jobs was also annoyed, and it had the consequence that Gates feared. As Jobs recalled:

This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software. But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as your have a stylus, you’re dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, “Fuck it, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.”

Jobs went into the office the next day, gathered his team, and said, “I want to make a tablet, and it can’t have a keyboard or a stylus.”

Needless to say the iPad was born shortly afterwards, and two generations later, it has sold a combined total of 39.8 million units. Meanwhile, Microsoft is yet to launch a Windows tablet that has established itself in the market.

So thank you, Microsoft, for our wonderful Apple iPad.

  • aidan taylor

    yay for microsoft!

  • G Taylor Rutter

    What happened to all the stories you guys post about the long history of iPad development, like with the Newton? You guys have a short attention span…

  • MacFreek

    Microsoft? Intellectual property? Is this an oxymoron? Seriously, Microsoft began researching and developing the tablet PC before Apple and still failed to release an economically feasible device. How embarrassing.

  • KillianBell

    Just because the decision to build the iPad came from this particular dinner, it doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t use things like the Newton as inspiration.

    • valerie


  • KillianBell

    Why are you cheering for Microsoft? Microsoft was working on tablets/tablet software way before Apple decided to build one, and it still hasn’t released anything that’s any good.

  • Bifrow

    Lol funny shit!!

  • AleGlad

    It’s called sarcasm.

  • AndrewHrubik

    Because if this story is to be believed without them the iPad wouldn’t have existed. Without a lot of people iOS wouldn’t be the device it is today. I find the reactions of people who are finally learning exactly what type of man Steve was extremely funny.

  • Stephan Le

    i remember hearing gate’s speaking about tablets being the future of computing even in the 90’s. deep down it must cut at Gates that Jobs and the iPad will be remembered as the turning point for tablet computing and history will probably forget Gate’s was ever a early pioneer of tablet pc’s.

  • Allan Cook

    Do you think Jobs went home and said, “Fuck it, let’s show him THAT a tablet can really be”? I bet he didn’t.

  • Honyant


  • Dean Lewis

    I was sad the Microsoft Courier never saw the light of day. That thing looked really cool. But never heard of a hands on demo. I remember people using XP on a tablet. As much as Microsoft were pioneers it really was the iPad that put the tablet into the hands of common people.

  • prof_peabody

    This sounds like BS to me.  Just because someone remembers it that way and just because it’s in Jobs’ biography, doesn’t mean it actually happened that way. 

  • Steven Zahl

    A Tablet computer has been Bill Gates dream long before the iPad.  

    Apple was much better at execution.

  • Lol

    Apple posted videos featuring touchscreen tablet-like devices in the 80s and 90s. 

  • brnmbrns

    I thought the iPhone was supposed to be an iPad but they delayed the iPad because Jobs was like “what if we put this in a phone!?”

  • Warren Gray

    I had an IBM tablet right before switching to macbook, and it worked fantastically because I was a college student at the time- the stylus really made the tablet feature of the laptop more functional because I could take notes in my engineering and math classes right on the screen.

    As much as I love (and I’m a huge advocate for) Apple’s sleek design and approach to simplicity, I really think that a stylus would improve the usability, at least for students. Of course, I suppose there are 3rd party styluses out there, and I haven’t done a fair job of looking those up (but I’d rather have a native stylus).

    But sadly that’s the main reason that I haven’t bought an iPad- I really wouldn’t use it as much as I’d like as a grad student now.

  • Christopher Lee

    just wanted to offer a different perspective (i’m not an engineering/math, i’m sociology/stats): i’m a grad student and i’ve never used or even really wanted a stylus (especially since i’m always losing pens and highlighters anyway). i can imagine wanting a stylus if you need to write out complex equations (the apple keyboard does not exactly lend itself to writing out proofs) and occasionally when doing stats notes there are only so many ways i can write out greek letters or equations like “rho” or “y{hat}” or “Sigma{(Ns-Nd)/(Ns+Nd)}”, but for even those cases, bamboo app (even without stylus) can be great for that.

  • Christopher Lee

    doesn’t contradict what the article said.

  • Guest

    My question, though, is what the iPad is leading towards.  The iPod touch and iPhone were leading towards the iPad, which is essentially a big version of those devices.  What is the iPad going to inspire?

  • Aaron

    Okay, you called “BS”. Now, it’s your responsibility to find out if this is correct or not. Contact Bill Gates or someone in the Microsoft tablet group and see if they can verify that this happened. Just saying something’s BS without trying to validate the facts does nobody any good at all.

  • Aaron

    For the love of god, please learn to use apostrophes properly. 

  • KateMacVerde

    iOS was originally created for a tablet, but they put it off in order to make the iPhone/iPod Touch first. 

  • david prokop

    Microsoft developed the eBook in year 2000, it could use a stylus or finger. The problem was the HARDWARE was too big (thick), slow, and over priced. They were putting intel 80386 chips in tablets back then, the battery drain was horrific, 1-2 hours of battery life, the ebook never saw the light of day.

    after 10 years the Hardware finally caught up with the software
    Apple knows how to build hardware, much better than Microsoft, that was Jobs contribution.

  • Icarus0311

    Yeah just look up bill gates on speed dial. I’m sure he’s waiting for your call. Something can seem like b.s. without forcing you to become an investigative journalist. It’s his opinion.

  • m_el

    Hehe give him a break. You could understand the post which is the main point isn’t it?

  • LukealiciousX

    Woah, you sure showed them Steve! But you may use the Apple Wireless keyboard for the iPad2?

  • JDWages

    “he’s revealing out intellectual property”

    Or rather, “he’s revealing our outdated intellectual property.”  Right?

    I must amuse my self in this manner to avoid getting perpetually perturbed over the endless spelling mistakes of Cult of Mac.

  • matthewmspaceyoutube

    Uh, the iPad was introduced in 2010, not 2009.

  • Kylelenk

    Lol, I know right? Coming from someone who rights for an Apple Blog…..Apple must be doomed if the rumor mill if slipping up after Steve left….

  • Th3Marauder

    Can you elaborate on this? Is this something from the Jobs Bio?

  • Bozono

    Does that Microsoft employee still work for Ballmer?  

  • The_Broph

    Here’s a page with the text of what Jobs said at the D8 conference:

    “I thought, ‘my god, we can build a phone with this’ and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone.”

    Here’s the video. It’s a 5 minute video, but it’s right at the beginning.

  • James

    Jobs was dreaming of a tablet or book sized computer since at least 1984. It is in the book.

  • caderoux

    It would have been truly awesome if someone had shown him iTunes and he decided to get his people to make a version of that which was any good.