Remember the iWalk

January 26, 2010

Remember the iWalk

Remember the iWalk

Let us take a moment to reflect on how long Apple Tablet rumors have been going around. Spymac posted videos of a tablet called the ‘iWalk’, way back in 2001, before the iPod was even announced. In fact, I think its fair to say that the crazy iWalk-type hype before the iPod was released had a lot to do with Slashdot’s famous “no wireless. less space than a nomad. lame.” post. People always attribute it to the Linux crowd’s failure to understand human factors (even, generally, when dealing with fellow humans), but I think it had as much to do with the millennial lather the blogs had worked each other up to ahead of the iPod’s release. Nothing could have been exciting enough to not be a letdown for CmdrTaco.

To my recollection, Apple has been dealing with both tablet rumors and the Internet echo chamber since before Taylor Swift was born. Deal with it, Vampire Weekend. You’re not that special, Harold Ford. Remember Taligent? Pink? General Magic? I guess, to be fair, its not just rumors. Apple has actually released a tablet device at least once, the Newton line of Messagepads, and possibly more times depending on how you count the various spinoffs’ products. Oddly though, in light of the current hype, these products failed to set the world aflame. All that’s left of General Magic is OnStar, that service that remotely locks people in their burning cars. (General Motors…General Magic? COINCIDENCE? Yes. That is exactly what it is.)

Part of the fervor has to be attributed to the incredible confidence people have in Steve “this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.” Jobs. I came across this Feb ‘96 Wired interview with Jobs the other day.
Its fascinating because half of it accurately predicts not only the future, but specifically, the parts of it Jobs and Apple are going to be involved in, but the other half, well, Jobs’ thesis is that WebObjects is going to completely redefine software development. WebObjects, née Enterprise Objects Framework, is perhaps the sole large piece of software inherited from NeXT that is not in some way fundamental to Apple’s current success.

And yet, I’m reminded of something Gruber wrote back in ‘08

[Jobs is] consumed by his work, and I think it’s only in the last two or three years that Apple has gotten to the point where Jobs feels he has a decent set of crayons at his disposal. In Jobs’s mind, the iPhone is only the beginning of what a truly flourishing Apple can produce.

But still: Taylor Swift has never lived in a world where Apple Tablet rumors did not exist (or a world where the Berlin Wall did exist, but we’re keeping our focus on the important things for now). If you know someone named Finn, say a nephew or a student in one of your classes, chances are overwhelming that he’s in the same boat. Let’s just hope tomorrow’s press event isn’t a letdown for Taylor, or for the Finns.