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Microsoft shows off its Surface tabletop computer in May 2007. Photo: Kevin P. Casey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

When Microsoft debuted its giant Surface tabletop computer back in 2007, executives predicted it might only take three to five years for a version to make its way to consumers. That never happened, but 15 years later, tabletop computing is back — this time in a new, game-focused vision from another company.

Why it matters: Long ago both Bill Gates and "Minority Report" promised a future in which every wall and surface becomes a digital screen where information can be displayed and manipulated by touch. That future is finally beginning to materialize.

Driving the news: Tastemakers — best known for Arcade 1Up, its line of slimmed down versions of '80s arcade games — is launching retail sales of the Infinity Game Table next month, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

  • Starting at around $600, the coffee-table size device includes a bunch of classic Hasbro games along with digital card games, jigsaw puzzles and coloring books.
  • Games can be played by multiple people in one place, or with other table owners over the internet.
A family plays Connect 4 on the Infinity Game Table. Photo; Tastemakers

Flashback: The original Surface may be a distant memory now, but it was a groundbreaking computer for its time, with demos that wowed.

  • Debuting around the same time as the iPhone, it was one of the first commercial products to offer a multitouch interface.
  • Microsoft targeted sales of the first Surface at the hotel and retail markets. However, those who got a chance to experience it were inevitably captivated by its potential consumer uses.

Yes, but: Priced at a prohibitive $10,000 and extremely bulky, the device never got a chance to move beyond niche business markets. Microsoft eventually licensed the technology to Samsung, and later reused the Surface name for its own consumer tablets.

Between the lines: The iPhone made touch screens a part of our lives while the Surface vanished.

  • In the intervening years, however, the visions have grown closer: Apple introduced the iPad, touch came to Windows computers and tablets, and touch screens are everywhere now from cars to elevators to vending machines.

What's next: A lot of surface areas have yet to be digitized. Despite Gates' promise, most walls still only smudge when we touch them.

  • But the Infinity Game Table, like Surface before it, shows how just offering a touch screen in a different shape or size creates new opportunities. I suspect Gates is right on the outcome, if not on the timing.

Go deeper: Game Table review

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 22, 2021 - Technology

Microsoft debuts new Surface hardware

Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft unveiled updates to its Surface line, including laptops, convertible tablets and an improved versions of its Android-based dual screen Surface Duo.

Why it matters: The new devices come ahead of Windows 11's official launch on Oct. 5.

Updated 40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

Scoop: Ukraine gives U.S. senators 4 specific asks

Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of Ukraine's parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian government is leaning on Congress — and a bipartisan group of senators negotiating compromise language on sanctions that could pass the Senate — in an effort to push the U.S. posture beyond the Biden administration's approach.