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Apple predicted AI assistant for tablets in 1987

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At Apple's iPhone event yesterday, the company talked-up its voice-activated AI assistant, Siri - a feature of iOS 5 that'll first see beta release on the iPhone 4S.

This concept is nothing new, though. In fact, Apple predicted a virtual assistant would hit tablet-like devices back in the 1980s, when Steve Jobs was busy with his NeXT project and John Sculley still held the reins, Waxy reports.

The following concept video, created for the ex-CEO's EDUCOM keynote presentation in 1987, documents something called 'Knowledge Navigator', a voice-controlled assistant embedded in a touchscreen tablet device. It also shows off a FaceTime-style videocall feature, well and truly ahead of the game.

Based on dates mentioned, the footage is set in a fictional September 2011 - last month, to be precise.

The clip's professor character asks his assistant to dig up a paper written "about five years ago", and as the calendar reads 16 September, we'll assume the scene represents where Apple saw itself today.

While the rest of the set definitely feels a bit dated, the tablet computer and AI assistant is all a bit spot on. Apple's 'predictions' were off by less than a month. Now that's an impressive crystal ball. ®

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