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Monitor dot pitch is all over the place these days.
On my Windows machine, AI's rulers view at about 75% "actual size" at 100%. But set Acrobat to "100%" and the zoom measures about 133%.
On my little Acer netbook, with its 8.7" screen, of course, everything is smaller at "100%". On the newer Acer netbooks, everything will be slightly larger, because those screens measure 10" diagonal, but have the same number of pixels.
Photoshop, of course, display of so-called 100% means one screen pixel for every image pixel--so "100%" is a different size for different resolution images.
It's all much ado about nothing. It's just a matter of what zoom level is zoomed to when you select "100%". No matter how Adobe or any other software vendor sets that zoom, it would still differ on different monitors/computers. I personally don't want Illustrator using 96 screen pixels to display an inch of the page. I certainly don't want my netbook to display "actual size" either.
I dare say that your never having "encountered" this before is really more a matter of simply not having noticed it before--which kinda supports that it's really nothing to fret over.