A Brief History of the Future
As the sun sets on Tuesday, the clock slowly ticks closer to that final goal many have sought since the whispers of an Apple Tablet started almost five years ago. That goal is finally definite and concrete: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:00AM PST. No other device has been as highly anticipated or hyped than what will show up with Steve Jobs on Wednesday. That is of course unless you have a clear memory of the year 1984.
On January 24, 1984 Apple forever changed the world of personal computing with the introduction of the first Macintosh. True, it wasn’t the first computer with a graphical interface or a mouse; the folks at Xerox PARC had invented those years earlier. The way it changed the world was by taking a lot of commonly available, but not necessarily mainstream, ideas and packaged them into a commercially available and accessible commodity. Before the Macintosh the personal computer was reserved for those with the patience or sheer Otaku enthusiasm to live on the command line. The Macintosh made it easy for a novice to purchase, set up, and operate a computer for the first time. No physics degrees required, no pocket protectors needed.
I think the Apple Tablet that debuts on Wednesday will change computing again in the same way. It may not be completely revolutionary in design or make up; there have been plenty of true tablet computers that came before it. The revolution will be in how all of the elements, most common and perhaps a few exotic, are brought together into something new.
The mouse was a known quantity when the Macintosh came out but was universally dismissed as unnecessary and unwanted. What known but unused quantity will Apple repurpose this time? Most people point to the iPhone and the profusion of smartphones that followed its path as the true beginning of the mobile web. I would argue however that the future really starts on Wednesday and the revolution runs through the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
What do you think? Will the Apple Tablet revolutionize computing the way its cousin did 25 years ago? Will it be the next big thing or the next big ho-hum in a season of ho-hum tablets? Leave a comment and let us know.
By: Erin Peterson