Why the iPad is the original Mac all over again

The iPad is only a reboot of Steve Job's original Mac vision of the accessible appliance computer. Don't believe me? Look at the specs.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

The iPad is remaking the PC industry. PC sales are falling. Microsoft and Intel are flailing. Tech-averse consumers are loving its always-on, 1-button simplicity.

At bottom, the iPad is the original Mac concept reimplemented in the latest technology with stellar industrial design. Why didn't the industry see this coming?

Key similarities

Screen size almost the same. No expansion (except for DRAM to 512k). Built-in productivity apps. Intuitive GUI interface. Portable. And even more affordable than the original - and unmet - goal of a $1000 computer. Here are the specs:

Mac 128k vs iPad 3

FeatureMac 128kiPad 3Delta
MHz 8 1,300 162.5
Processor Word size
Single core
Dual core
Quad-core graphics
A lot
RAM capacity
128k/512k 1GB 8,000x
Display 9" Monochrome 9.7" Color Way better!
Display resolution 512x342  2048x1536 18x
Standard storage 400k 16GB 40,000x
Network None Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Expansion None None  
Weight 16.5 lbs 1.44 lbs 1/11th
Cost (2012 dollars) $5579.12 $499 1/11th


(Mac specs courtesy of EveryMac.)

The Storage Bits take

The tablet concept goes back to 1968, when Alan Kay described his "Dynabook" concept, which he envisioned as a learning tool for children. But many technologies had to be developed to make it possible.

Compared to the 128k Mac, the biggest space saver is the flat panel display replacing the bulky and power hungry CRT, followed by the advent of flash storage - 40,000x capacity in a fraction of the space of a floppy - followed by the Moore's Law reduction in chip feature sizes.

Why didn't the industry see this coming? Bill Gates did, but he and Microsoft didn't draw the right conclusions from their tablet failures. Lightweight hardware needs lightweight software, and Windows is anything but.

Instead of assuming Windows, Microsoft needed to do what Apple did in 1984: build an OS from the ground up integrated with the hardware and the user experience. If I'm correct, Windows 8 on tablets will be no more successful than it predecessors.

Comments welcome, of course.

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