Never-before-seen pictures of Apple's tablet in the days before the first iPad launch show designs and features that the company never used in a final product. Say what you will about the state of patent disputes in America these days. There are of course companies that specialize in securing patents for the sole purpose of suing companies who end up actually putting those ideas to some sort of commercial use, and then there are frivolous battles between competing manufacturers.
And finally, the minority of cases involve actual theft of intellectual property. But regardless of the circumstances, it's always cool when these cases shed insights into the design process of a product.
Such has been the case with the rampant series of tablet-related patent lawsuits, many of which involve Apple (that's of course because many of them have been filed by Apple).
As a result, a lot of previously undisclosed information becomes part of the public record. For example, early prototypes of the iPad and iPhone have made their way through the court process, and are just beginning to be filtered through to the mainstream media.
As part of a series of court documents, Apple has released a bunch of images of prototype versions of the iPad.
It seems the most common feature among early renditions of the device included a kickstand to encourage docile playback of videos and music. There is also an early 16:9 widescreen model as well as a unit with handles on either side of the tablet device. In other words, Apple went through a lot of design possibilities before settling on the iPad we know and love today.
The documents and photos were discovered by The Verge, which has the full scoop on all the various iPad prototypes.