Touch Tablets and Touch Screens

What do you think of when I say touch tablet or a touch screen? Perhaps a Wacom art tablet? Touch screen devices like an iPad or other tablet device? Or maybe an interactive kiosk (such as for buying commuter tickets). Sure, these are great new technologies. Or are they? Alan Alda might have something to say about that… from about 30 years ago!

Perhaps it’s been lost to the ages, but Alan Alda, perhaps best known for his role in MASH (the younger crowd might recognize him from the movie Tower Heist), was a spokesperson for Atari computers. He introduced television audiences to the Atari 800XL’s advanced technology, including a Touch Tablet and the Touch Screen (Light Pen) as part of a series of commercials. This first video is of the Atari Artist and Touch Tablet. Look you can use a stylus or your finger! Now that’s advanced technology!

This second video is of the Atari Light Pen. The device allowed you to draw or interact directly on the screen. No programming! Just a fun way to interact and have fun with your kid! Yes it was!

Growing up, my dad was the cofounder of Optimized Systems Software, which produced a series of operating systems and programming languages for Atari. I can remember being a bit of a test subject on these devices, I can remember playing with the Light Pen and not wanting to stop playing with it!

Here’s to Atari, being an innovative company. It just goes to show that Natural User Interfaces have been in the works for quite some time!

For more fun with Alan Alda and Atari, click here for a playlist on YouTube!

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