The very first iPad was made of wax

21 Jul

Antiquity is full of surprises and incredible technological wonders. It’s a shame to think how many have been forgotten or lost.

My surprise of the day came from learning that the ancient Greeks and Romans carried a portable, reusable tablet that was their equivalent of the iPad. It had two wood-framed pages that could be folded like a book. The pages were coated in wax, and writing was done with a wooden stylus.

To reuse, the wax pages were heated slightly and then smoothed over.

This was literally a “tabula rasa,” the cute Latin term used today to describe a blank slate or a person without preconceived ideas. There are references to such tablets in Homer and the device may date to the 14th century B.C. It is believed they were used by the Greeks and Romans and in Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. Evidence of them can be found up until the Middle Ages.

They ancients never lacked for technology and engineering.  They just did it differently; sometimes better. Our 20-year old highways may be crumbling, but the Roman aqueducts still stand.

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