Someday, when they tell the story of how digital magazines saved Conde Nast, it will begin in San Francisco’s Caffé Centro sometime in May 2009. It was there that Wired creative director Scott Dadich asked Wired editor Chris Anderson to meet him to discuss the creation of a prototype for a new digital tablet. Mr. Dadich knew the iPhone screen was far too small to re-create the magazine experience, but it got him thinking about a Minority Report-like touchscreen that could work. Mr. Dadich took out a cocktail napkin and drew an illustration of what Wired could look like on a 13-inch tablet screen.
The sketch worked. Mr. Dadich got the go-ahead to make a prototype (which they dubbed, cutely, Project 13), and skimmed a few thousand dollars off his own budget to make a five-minute video about the project. The video was a hit with Condé executives, who asked other editors and publishers to watch it. It was used to forge an alliance between Condé Nast and Adobe.