Court documents in the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit have yielded photos of an iPad prototype dating back to 2004 or earlier. NetworkWorld found them among court document filings that were confidential until a recent legal action exposed them. Another document, a deposition of Apple designer Jony Ive, hinted at their existence.
The device they show is definitely clunkier than the first real iPad, introduced in 2010, but the minimalist design, black bezel, rounded corners, and even Apple logo are all there. It's only a model, as these images were far before the company created what would become today's iOS — but as the conflict with Samsung has to do with hardware design, they are certainly important documents.
The photos are clearly the basis for the drawings in a patent submitted in March of 2004; the angles and figures are exactly the same. That puts the model, known as 035, in development some time before the iPhone.
Steve Jobs himself said as much, recalling that they had produced a tablet form factor but immediately decided to work on a phone instead. And Jony Ive, the main designer on the iPad, said in deposition that this model is the one on which they based the original design patent.
View the rest of the photos at NetworkWorld. The original court document was printed in black and white and then re-scanned for archival purposes, which accounts for the dated, monochrome look to the photos.
Buzzfeed found some more recent photos, including this one used to show the scale of the original 035 model and the iPad 2:
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News. His personal website is coldewey.cc.