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"The bottom line in the Dune trilogy is: beware of heroes. Much better to rely on your own judgment, and your own mistakes."
- Frank Herbert

Newspad  
  A notebook-sized computer and display screen for reading news stories or other text matter.  

I think this item is an accurate prediction of the Tablet PC, as well as the current use of PDAs and notebook-sized computers. As usual, Clarke gives us a great sense of how the artifact is used by the people of 2001.

When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad. Switching to the display unit's short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.

Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-sized rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word "newspaper," of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.

It was hard to imagine how the system could be improved or made more convenient. But sooner or later, Floyd guessed, it would pass away, to be replaced by something as unimaginable as the Newspad itself would have been to Caxton or Gutenberg.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey , by Arthur C. Clarke.
Published by Del Rey in 1968
Additional resources -

It should be noted that the true size of this portable computer is roughly 17 x 13.5 inches, that being the size of traditional foolscap (or possibly 8.5 x 13.5 inches, which is also traditional usage, being the size of a foolscap sheet folded once). The "Foolscap" watermark was traditionally used to identify the size of the paper sheet.

Here is a look at the way Stanley Kubrick imagined the Newspad in his film @001: A Space Odyssey:

Compare to the blue optic plate from EM Forster's 1910 The Machine Stops.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from 2001: A Space Odyssey
  More Ideas and Technology by Arthur C. Clarke
  Tech news articles related to 2001: A Space Odyssey
  Tech news articles related to works by Arthur C. Clarke

Newspad-related news articles:
  - In-Flight Wi-Fi Gives Me Clarke Moment
  - Sony Reader Electronic Paper Book
  - News E-Papers From Plastic Logic
  - Buying a Tablet Computer?
  - Murdoch To Create Digital News-Paper
  - Galaxy Tab 10.1 vs. iPad 2 vs. Clarke's Newspad
  - Samsung Cites 'Space Odyssey' Newspad Against iPad In Patent Suit
  - Sony's A4-Sized Flexible Digital Paper Notepad
  - Do You Want A Tablet Computer? Or, Fad Over?
  - Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
  - Will Astronauts Get iPads In Space?

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LG Wing Twisting Smartphone Might Be Fun
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