Many of the latest rumors about the Apple iTablet/iSlate involve it being a large iPhone, or as Daring Fireball points out, the iPhone being a smaller version of an older Apple tablet project. Way back in June of 2007, the New York Times mentioned just that, and the tablet project was Safari Pad:

Mr. Jobs seized on the multitouch technology after Apple product designers proposed it as a “safari pad,” a portable Web surfing appliance. Instead, he saw the technology as something that could be used for a similar purpose in a cellphone, a former Apple employee said.

We've linked to those stories and that name several times over the years, and while we doubt an actual shipping Apple tablet will still be called Safari Pad, given the state of the rumors, Gruber's point (linked above) is salient:

The Tablet is what Apple set out to build all along, and the iPhone was an offshoot that shipped first because the technology wasn’t there yet to produce The Tablet. In short, that Apple has had something bigger in mind — both physically and conceptually — from the outset.

Gruber's also heard there won't be a camera or webcam in the tablet, but we're still keeping our fingers crossed.

Either way, it's looking more and more like the "next big thing" for Apple is tightly connected to the iPhone.