There's an interesting video making the viral rounds (see video below) and an equally interesting article in yesterday's Washington Post about Roger Fidler who worked for Knight-Ridder beginning in 1979 and eventually became head of their media lab headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, right next door to Apple's media facility that was working on the Newton. As far back as 1981 he began talking about a tablet computer that would eventually replace traditional newspapers. “These units could have tactile controls,” he wrote. “When readers wanted to read the whole story, they would simply press the capsule or tease headline and the complete story would instantly appear on the screen. - It just seemed so obvious to me that it had to be a touch screen, he said”. He eventually created mock-ups, one of which looks astonishingly like today's iPad in one of its incarnations. Did Apple steal the idea? Hard to say. In fact, in another video made in 1987 Apple shows off a future product concept called the Knowledge Navigator (predating Netscape Navigator) for a tablet computer and network device that clearly includes voice recognition and response in what is now known as Siri (still first gen, of course) and what is essentially the internet as we know it, so we know they were thinking about the possibility. (see video below) People thought Fidler was crazy as viable laptops were the new big thing in those days.
EDIT: I almost forgot, Samsung is using the video of Roger Fidler as evidence to defend itself against charges of patent infringement on the iPad brought by Apple, which is one reason this is in the news these days.
Fidler's 1994 concept mock-up
Apple's 1987 concept