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The 2012 Modbook Pro

"Finger painting is fun when you're five years old. But when you start getting into it, you're going to pick up a pen." That's the philosophy of Andreas Haas, creator of the Modbook and the newly minted CEO of Modbook Inc, on why users would choose a Modbook over an iPad. Modbook Inc. is technically a new company, but you have probably heard the name before—the Modbook, a MacBook transmogrified into tablet form with a pen and drawing tablet built into the display, was sold through Haas' previous company, Axiotron from 2008 until about 2010. At that time, the company and its Modbook products largely fell off the radar, and most users assumed it was due to the then-new iPad that had made its debut in early 2010. But that was not the case, according to Haas, who has now come out of hiding in order to reintroduce the world to his creation.

"When I started Axiotron, we had a great team and the company was fine. We had a great run until we went public—two weeks later, Lehman Brothers went belly up and took us down along with the financial system. Access to capital was a huge problem," Haas told Ars. "In order for me to continue on my vision of creating a tablet computer for the creative industry, the only way to do it was to create a new company."

Indeed, we had spent nearly two years trying to dig into what was going on at Axiotron. Aside from the "iPad killed the Modbook" theory, we had begun to hear rumors that Axiotron had run into legal issues—possibly even with Apple. But those rumors were completely false, contends Haas. He says that he and Modbook have always had a healthy relationship with Apple, and that there were no legal issues involved in the company's two-year stumbling block. "As soon as the ModBook came out, Apple came to us and asked us to become a proprietary solution provider," he said. "That didn't end up working out, but we were moved to a developer contract. We are now an Apple 'developer' and we have a great working relationship."

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Doofus writes "The Washington Post has a profile of Roger Fidler, who 'invented' the tablet computer in the 1990s, while working as a visionary for newspaper firm Knight-Ridder. He is now embroiled in the Apple/Samsung legal war, as an expert witness. Fidler admits that other prior art influenced him, such as the tablets being used as computing devices in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Prior prior art."


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