By Eddie Wrenn
When the iPad was unveiled in April 2010, it was an instant success, instantly creating a tablet market where others had failed.
It was the epitome of everything Steve Jobs wanted - sleek and simple, with software that could be understood within seconds of picking it up.
And while it was known that the iPad was in development for at least two years before release - and in Jobs's head for decades - it now seems there was an iPad knocking around Apple HQ as long ago as 2002 - in prototype form, at least.
A little chunkier, but recognisably an iPad: Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive had the concept of the tablet ready to go in 2002
He looks like he is still getting to grips with it, but this Apple employee seems to be getting the hang of the prototype
The website iOnApple has given a comprehensive run-down of the iPad's formation.
The site quotes Steve Jobs at the 2010 All Things Digital conference, where he told Walt Mossberg that the iPad came before the iPhone (released in 2007).
He said:''I’ll tell you a secret. It began with the tablet. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display.
'And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, "my God, we can build a phone with this!" So we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the iPhone.'
And, as these images tracked down by iOnApple seem to show, the iPad's basic shape began to take form in 2002 - much earlier than was thought.
The images come from the still ongoing court battle between Samsung and Apple, and were shown at a deposition of chief Apple designer Jonathan Ive in December 2011. The images were later released by Apple following a request by Samsung.
Ive is a legend among designer, tech enthusiasts and Apple fans. His designs formed almost the entire basis for the iMac, iPad and iPhone, and turned Apple into a style icon and one of the biggest brands of the last decade.
Jonathan Ive has been as much of a visionary as Steve Jobs in turning Apple from niche computer brand to media giant
Ive, when asked about the mock-up at the deposition, said: 'My recollection of first seeing it is very hazy, but it was, I'm guessing, sometime between 2002 and 2004.
'I remember seeing this and perhaps models similar to this when we were first exploring tablet designs that ultimately became the iPad.'
So, as the website suggests, 'these photos may be the earliest iPad mockups you'll ever see'.
Key differences between what we see now and how the iPad was envisioned then include a thinner frame (or 'bezel' around the edge of the screen, a lack of the ubiquitous single button, and the tablet seems a little chunkier than the thin devices we see today.
But the Apple logo is there - as is the entire concept, which has helped Apple become the most profitable business in the world.
And who knows, maybe the device we'll all be using in 2022 is resting somewhere on Ive's shelf at Apple HQ in beta form...