You may remember, Bill Gates was a loyal tablet user for years (and he still uses one). He was such a fan, in fact, that back in 2001 Gates told CNN, "The tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available whenever you want it...It's a PC that is virtually without limits — and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."
Obviously, Gates was wrong—at least about the timeline. It's seven years later and tablets are all but dead while netbooks and touchscreen smartphones thrive. Keep in mind that multitouch wasn't around yet, though the idea of smudging up your computer's screen probably didn't make much sense given that a stylus was the ideal means for navigation.
Microsoft has since dialed back their enthusiasm on the tablet form factor, but you can see its spirit live on in products like the Surface and Windows 7's multitouch support.
To me, the question is not so much whether or not tablets are capable of succeeding in the marketplace but how they've captured the imaginations of Bill Gates, Apple fanboys and Star Trek alike yet still managed to elude mainstream popularity. [CNN and Image]