Back when it was introduced in January, TrekMovie and others noted the similarities of Apple’s new iPad tablet and the Star Trek PADD touchscreen devices. Now Star Trek designers Mike & Denise Okuda as well as Doug Drexler are talking about the iPad/PADD connection, excerpts below.
Okudas and Drexler on the path from PADD to iPad
A new profile at Ars Technica takes a close look at "How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad 23 years ago", pointing out how a defining characteristic of Star Trek: The Next Generation (as well as Deep Space Nine & Voyager) was ubiquitous portable touchscreen devices known as PADDs, (Personal Access Display Devices), and how they resemble Apple’s iPad of today. Ars spoke to Star Trek designers Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler, who were responsible for the PADD.
According to Mike Okuda, one of the driving forces behind the famous ‘okudagrams’ and touchscreen interfaces seen on the USS Enterprise D and PADDS was budgetary:
The initial motivation for that was in fact cost. Doing it purely as a graphic was considerably less expensive than buying electronic components. But very quickly we began to realize—as we figured out how these things would work and how someone would operate them, people would come to me and say, ‘What happens if I need to do this?’ Perhaps it was some action I hadn’t thought of, and we didn’t have a specific control for that. And I realized the proper answer to that was, ‘It’s in the software.’ All the things we needed could be software-definable.
Doug Drexler talked to Ars about how this approach created a prop that is "eerily similar" to Apple’s iPad, noting:
The PADD never had a keyboard as part of its casing, just like the iPad. Its geometry is almost exactly the same—the corner radius, the thickness, and overall rectangular shape. It’s uncanny to have a PADD that really works…The iPad is the true Star Trek dream.
This DS9 PADD could be confused for an iPad
Go to arstechnica.com for much more from the Okudas and Drexler on the development of the PADD and it’s new incarnation as a real product.