Even though the iPad 2 is already in the hands of many, and it's probably a matter of months before we start hearing all about the iPad 3, Apple just recently got an approval from the US Patent Office for the design of the first iPad, this particular patent is for a "Portable Display Device." It was filed on January 6, 2010, not long before the announcement, and is good for a term of 14 years.
As expected, it's just a handful of drawings of the iPad. As with most of these patent drawings, many of the features are drawn with dotted lines. This indicates that those features are not part of the design. Apple often does this with their iDevices (iPod touch, iPod, iPhone, iPad) because as we all know, they update them from time to time. In the case of this drawing, it's mostly the buttons and the speakers. The frame itself isn't drawn in dotted lines, and the back almost looks like dotted lines, but that's really just to show curvature.
There isn't anything new here, but it's always interesting to see these drawings. These sorts of drawings always make us anticipate what's next from the technology world. The first iPad is a very cool tablet, but it always seemed so sleek and awesome. When the iPad 2 was released, the original still looked awesome, but it just doesn't feel like the newest thing anymore. Still, for most of us the update cycle is every other year or so. That probably won't change for many of us.