I know, I know, that headline's a dirty trick. But this is still pretty cool: TechCrunch got ahold of a shot of the Apple Pen Mac, a stylus-driven tablet concept circa 1990 that eventually collapsed in favor of the Newton.

The Pen Mac was an inch thick, used the same screen as the Mac Portable, and didn't merely exist in a lab—this is a real working model pictured here, not just a pretty (for the time) case. Unfortunately, the powers that were wanted a handheld rather than a full-sized tablet, and so the Pen Mac was discarded in favor of the Newton, which in turn didn't have such a hot life itself.

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The project was dug up for a sequel, called the PenLite, but it too was cancelled, and the mythical Apple tablet has gained stature ever since. Something interesting to think about: The Pen Mac was cancelled because it was replaced by a handheld, lower-power computer—sound familiar? Maybe the iPod Touch and iPhone are, in that very specific way, the Newton of today, and we'll never see a full-sized Apple tablet. I know you guys hate to think about such a thing, but we all know that the past repeats itself. I learned it from Battlestar Galactica, so it has to be true. [TechCrunch]