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Whatever happened to the pen?

Om's fond reminiscing over slates, and Bill Gates' comment on what he thought of the iPad, reminded me of my sixth or seventh reaction after the iPad demo: "So where's the pen?"

Whatever happened to kill pen computing? I'm old enough to have bought a Palm Pilot handheld organizer and though it took a while to learn how to "write" on it. I found the note-taking feature kinda cool. Similarly, I glanced enviously at friends with tablet pcs (particularly in b-school) who were able to add notes to their printed documents directly on their devices. For some reason, possibly including the software integration with Word and Image editing tools just not being good enough, the pricing never quite getting there, and the hand-writing recognition not being up-to-scratch, tablet pcs just haven't been the run-away success many expected.

Just three days ago, as I was struggling with mocks and trying to take notes in a class, I thought again about just how much I'd love to have a tablet that I could transfer my documents to and work on.

Here's to hoping that we solve the software problem (i.e. recognizing handwriting and image manipulation from a pen) quickly, and get this on a mass consumer device. Now do that, and I'll be fighting Steve's zealot army (picture to the right) to get the iPad. :)

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