Roger Fidler was a head of innovation for Knight-Ridder who convinced his company to let him set up a lab in the early 1990s to explore the creation of tablet computers. They were next door to a lab owned by Apple:

Fidler smiles through a scruffy gray Jobsian beard. He has known the answer for a long time. In 1994, while running a lab dreaming up the future of newspapers, Fidler starred in his own video demonstrating a prototype he cooked up that was remarkably like the iPad — black, thin, rectangular, with text and video displayed on-screen.

A narrator described technology that at the time sounded like science fiction: “Tablets will be a whole new class of computer. They’ll weigh under two pounds. They’ll be totally portable. They’ll have a clarity of screen display comparable to ink on paper. They’ll be able to blend text, video, audio and graphics together. . . . We may still use computers to create information but will use the tablet to interact with information — reading, watching, listening.”

“For Tablet Computer Visionary Roger Fidler, a Lot of What-Ifs.” — Michael S. Rosenwald, The Washington Post

See also: “The Tablet.” — John Gruber, Daring Fireball, Dec. 31, 2009