Originally Posted by bdkennedy1
Apple took an idea that's 20 years old and probably never been used, and innovated on it.
"never been used"? Only if you consider Microsoft to be the totality of "everything". IBM's OS/2 had tabs all over the place, starting in version 2.0. This was released in March, 1992.
OS/2 was, I think the first mainstream commercial product to use tabs.
If we want to go to a more generic concept of an on-screen control (like radio buttons) determining the content of a windows, that can be found in Sun's OpenLook window manager back in the late 80's. (Look at the desktop preferences dialog for an example - a drop-down menu selects each category of options, which are displayed in the remainder of the window.)
For that matter, the Mac OS control panel
from System 6 (1988) probably counts. It was a single window with a vertical column of icons down the left side. Clicking an icon caused the right side of the window to be replaced with configuration controls.
Originally Posted by EagerDragon
Clicking a section of the screen and having some other content painted over the content currently being shown is very basic and obvious. Not that much difference between a button and a tab.
It's obvious today. It wasn't nearly so obvious in 1987.
Originally Posted by Macvault
Tabs? What "tabs"??? Would somebody enlighten me how Mac OS X Tiger makes use of tabs?
System Preferences -> Network. Two different kinds of the "tab" concept. You have the "Show" drop-down list for selecting multiple pages of content (Network Status, Network Port Configuration, and a page per port.) Each port-based page contains multiple tabbed-panels (TCP/IP, PPPoE, AppleTalk, Proxies, Ethernet).
There are many other examples.
Originally Posted by philipm
A classic example of why software patents are idiotic even when they do protect a valid innovation. In this case, the patents have protected the idea from being used. Nice one, Xerox. Not only have you not been able to make anything of this (as usual) but you've sold it to a lawsuit factory.
Unfortunately, Xerox has a terrible history of inventing incredible stuff and then doing nothing with it.
They invented the GUI, and ignored it (leaving it to Apple, Microsoft and others to make mainstream products.) Ditto for Ethernet (made popular by Bob Metcalfe, founder of 3Com), PostScript (Adobe), object oriented programming, the SmallTalk language, etc., etc. About the only thing from PARC that they didn't ignore was the laser printer, because that fit within their business model of selling copiers.