Jason Hiner of TechRepublic has an interesting theory: He thinks that the release of Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Surface table in 2007 marks the moment that the fates of tech’s eternal archrivals diverged. Both products cleverly commercialized multi-touch input, a technology previously seen only in lab experiments and TED demos. But while the iPad and its offspring became some of the most successful gadgets of all time, (Surface clearly hasn’t lived up to expectations. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a Surface table in the wild.)
Surface was announced at the Wall Street Journal’s D conference in May 2007; I wrote about it at the time for Slate. But Microsoft first showed it to journalists months before at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. I was there; we had to sign an agreement stating we wouldn’t write about it until Microsoft was ready to unveil it.