A Tale of Two Computers

 

se30
Image: applehistory.com

Of all the computers I’ve owned, the Macintosh SE/30 stands out as one of my favorites. It came out a few years after the original Mac, and was a significant improvement over its predecessors.

Many people regarded that original Mac as a toy. This was mainly because of three reasons:

  1. The Macintosh operating system had a completely different user interface paradigm than most mainstream computers of the time. It removed one layer of abstraction from the experience of interacting with information: People could point to pictures of documents and objects and move them around to rearrange them using a mouse instead of having to memorize text commands and file names.
  2. There weren’t many “serious” applications for the Mac OS. Most businesses at the time were using command-line applications in other personal computer platforms.
  3. The original Mac was compact, cute, and… underpowered. Hardware constraints limited how many applications could run simultaneously, and the computer’s operating system also had many limitations. Even simple tasks like copying files from one disk to another required figuring out complex choreographies that were different from the way things were done in “serious” computers at the time.

The Mac platform got real with the SE/30. The conditions were finally right. For one thing, the SE/30 came along at a time when people had come to grips with the new user interface paradigm. For another, “serious” applications (such as Microsoft Office) were available for the platform. Some, like drawing apps, exploited the computer’s unique hardware capabilities (e.g. mouse pointer) to allow people to create things much more effectively than they were able to with the “old paradigm” computers. And finally, the SE/30 hardware and operating system were powerful enough to fulfill the platform’s potential.

Whenever I used the SE/30, I thought, “one day, most computers will work like this.” I used it every day and loved it.


Image: [Apple](https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MPTL2LL/A/smart-keyboard-for-105‑inch-ipad-pro-us-english)
Image: Apple
Of all the computers I’ve owned, the iPad Pro stands out as one of my favorites. It came out a few years after the original iPad, and was a significant improvement over its predecessors.

Many people regarded that original iPad as a toy. This was mainly because of three reasons:

  1. The iPad’s operating system had a completely different user interface paradigm than most mainstream computers of the time. It removed one layer of abstraction from the experience of interacting with information: People could touch information directly to move it around the screen instead of having to point to pictures of documents and objects to rearrange them using a mouse.
  2. There weren’t many “serious” applications for the iPad’s OS. Most businesses at the time were using windows-based applications in other personal computer platforms.
  3. The original iPad was compact, cute, and… underpowered. Hardware constraints limited how many applications could run simultaneously, and the computer’s operating system also had many limitations. Even simple tasks like copying files from one folder to another required figuring out complex choreographies that were different from the way things were done in “serious” computers at the time.

The iPad platform got real with the iPad Pro. The conditions were finally right. For one thing, the iPad Pro came along at a time when people had come to grips with the new user interface paradigm. For another, “serious” applications (such as Microsoft Office) were available for the platform. Some, like drawing apps, exploited the computer’s unique hardware capabilities (e.g. Apple Pencil) to allow people to create things much more effectively than they were able to with the “old paradigm” computers. And finally, the iPad Pro hardware and operating system were powerful enough to fulfill the platform’s potential.

Whenever I use the iPad Pro, I think, “one day, most computers will work like this.” I use it every day and love it.