by Liz Colville
This article documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
This article is about Apple’s allegedly portable device iPad. For other uses, see iPad (disambiguation). For the handheld digital music device, see iPod. For the gadget that looks like something Jon King would flash during a CNN election broadcast, see iPad(2).
iPad was a prototype for a feminine hygiene product that purported to digitize a woman’s menstruation cycle and store it on a password-protected Web server. In the trademark application submitted by the inventor, Larry Bobson, the iPad was described as a “a light-weight, leak-proof device that, for the first time, will allow women to perform the acrobatics illustrated in television ads for tampons and sanitary napkins, rather than just aspire to them. No longer will women feel frustrated watching commercial actresses leap over fire hydrants, attempt gymnastics routines, and randomly flail their legs around to illustrate the point that their menstrual protection doesn’t leak. With iPad, a woman’s cycle continues as normal, it just doesn’t happen down there.”
Bobson, who claims the iPad as his only invention, became embroiled in controversy over the device when early testers reported quitting their jobs, breaking up with their significant others and sending angry texts to friends in the days surrounding the “upload period.” Testers also reported finding Bobson creepy. At an emotional press conference in 2001, Bobson responded to a growing chorus of skeptics, who were demanding more disclosure about the device, by saying he couldn’t “be expected to invent something that would prevent women from being women.” Though the FDA was more than happy to approve the device without knowing anything about it except its name, which a spokesperson reportedly called “catchy,” a Bush Administration official blocked the passage of the device in 2002, saying it was “1984-ish” and “sound[ed] a hell of a lot like pro-choice to me.”
Bobson retired in 2009 at the age of 27 when Apple Computer, Inc. bought the rights to the name iPad for an undisclosed six-figure sum. See iPad(2).
Liz Colville is a history expert.