mac & the ipad, history repeats itself

This is a great article I saw a few days ago on slashdot of all places. I’m surprised it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by a lot of people. It offers an intriguing look at the parallels between the release of the original Mac, iPhone, and now, iPad.

Few will remember, but, when the Mac debuted in 1984, there were no arrow keys on the keyboard. That was a big deal. Almost every application then in existence depended on the arrow keys (then called cursor keys) for navigation. With that one stroke, Steve reduced the number of apps that could be easily ported to the Mac from tens of thousands to zero, ensuring that this new computer would have a long and painful childhood.

It was one of several strategies specifically designed to ensure that existing software would not run on this new machine because existing software, in Steve’s eyes, sucked (an opinion I share). The absence of those four keys ensured that any developer who wanted to have software appear on the Mac was going to have to start over and write software that conformed to the Mac interface, not the keyboard-oriented precursors to MS-DOS.

April 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

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