What happens if we go back another ca. 2000 years? Can we find writing tablets of the approximate same aspect ratio as the Apple iPad2 or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1? We can. We can.
There is not that much new in the outer design of tablets in this field.
Let us take the Babylonian writing tablet designated as Plimtpon 322, which is dated to ca. 1800 BC. It is the most renowned mathematical tablet in the world of cuneiform script. People in the computer industry, which has a lot to do with math, should be well aware of it. They known their math. Nicht wahr?
Do we have a match? We do. We do. Plimpton 322 is 13 x 9 cm or ca. 5 x 3.5 inches, or about half the size of the iPad2. Not only that, but it presents four columns of cuneiform "numbers" (like icons) in 15 rows. The Apple iPad2 also has four columns of "icons". There are only limited possibilities of presenting symbols for legible reading on a tablet. In this regard, Apple claims as its own a tablet design feature already found 4000 years ago.
Below is a photograph of Plimpton 322:
Plimpton 322 is in the G.A. Plimpton Collection at Columbia University. The image at Wikipedia was copied from http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cass/courses/m446-03/pl322/pl322.html. An academic presentation of Plimpton 322 with image is found at page 12 of Rida T. Farouki, Pythagorean-hodograph curves: algebra and geometry inseparable.
As written at the Wikipedia about Plimpton 322:
"Plimpton 322 is a Babylonian clay tablet, notable as containing an example of Babylonian mathematics. It has number 322 in the G.A. Plimpton Collection at Columbia University. This tablet, believed to have been written about 1800 BC, has a table of four columns and 15 rows of numbers in the cuneiform script of the period....
Plimpton 322 is partly broken [LawPundit comment: partly broken at the top left], approximately 13 cm wide, 9 cm tall, and 2 cm thick. New York publisher George A. Plimpton purchased the tablet from an archaeological dealer, Edgar J. Banks, in about 1922, and bequeathed it with the rest of his collection to Columbia University in the mid 1930s. According to Banks, the tablet came from Senkereh, a site in southern Iraq corresponding to the ancient city of Larsa.
The tablet is believed to have been written about 1800 BCE, based in part on the style of handwriting used for its cuneiform script: Robson (2002) writes that this handwriting "is typical of documents from southern Iraq of 4000–3500 years ago." More specifically, based on formatting similarities with other tablets from Larsa that have explicit dates written on them, Plimpton 322 can be dated to the period 1822–1784 BCE. Robson points out that Plimpton 322 was written in the same format as other administrative, rather than mathematical, documents of the period."Alas, dear Apple, you are at least 4000 years too late in your design claim for the iPad2 when looking at the historical prior art of flat writing tablets with the same approximate aspect ratio of length and width.