incrediBILL - 1:14 am on Oct 6, 2010 (gmt 0)
actually microsoft was first to the watering hole, by about 10 years with their XP tablet operating system
I had an 8"x10"-ish Windows 3.x prototype tablet in my hands way back in '91 and they were shortly being sold to niche markets.
However, the hardware and batteries weren't really ready 20, 10 or even 5 years ago.
Apple just hit the sweet spot when the technology convergence peaked.
However, now that Apple has spent all the marketing money to prove there's now a thriving market, they have paved the way for everyone else to enter the tablet market way cheaper.