In February, 2006,[1. Did I really write this six years ago? Wow.] four years before the iPad’s release, United States Patent Application #20060026536 (complete with Jony Ive’s signature) described “…methods and systems for processing touch inputs. The invention in one respect includes reading data from a multipoint sensing device such as a multipoint touch screen.” Website Hrmph! noted:
“The patent apps detail method for recognising data from a multipoint touch sensitive display and interpreting this data to allow things like zooming in on an image etc (a bit like the two finger scrolling on new Powerbooks enables window scrolling). An example they show is the zooming in on a map where a pinching action results on zooming where the pinch occurs- the opposite action of pinching results in zooming out. Rotating your finger results in- you guessed it- rotation of the image! (see the animation at the bottom of this page)…Could this be the next-gen iPod?”
No, but that was a very good guess.