Effect Measure

The iPad and the more things change

I haven’t bought myself an iPad yet, but I’ll probably do it before heading off on vacation in August. By that time it will have passed its shakedown phase and we’ll know the best and worst. But from what I see and hear it looks pretty good, especially if you travel a lot. My trusty MacBook Pro weighs about 6 lbs with everything and this is less than 2 lbs (if I spring for the docking keyboard). One knock on it is price: $499 (and more if I go for the 3G version at $630. But it’s all relative. Relative to what?

In 1981 I bought my first computer, an Apple II+. It had no monitor, 48K of RAM (yes, 48K) and the 5.25″ disk drive was extra. No hard drive, of course. There weren’t any consumer hard drives to buy, but if there were, they would have cost more than the computer. I used an old B&W TV for a monitor. Price? $2200. I went to the US Department of Labor Inflation Calculator to find out what the 1981 equivalent was for $499 in 2010. Answer? $209.28. That means this thing is just a tenth the price of my first Apple computer that had no monitor. It did have a disk drive, which this one doesn’t. But this one has more than 333,333 times as much memory (16 GB) and a color display. Not to mention wireless connection to the internet, which gives me a bit more information at my fingertips (literally) than my 5.25″ diskette.

A computer is still a sizable purchase of most people, about what they used to pay for a TV set “back then.” Computers are more versatile, though, a multipurpose information and entertainment appliance. On the other hand, back then if you’d have told me I’d be paying $100 a month to watch TV I would have told you you were crazy (you couldn’t have told me about the internet bundled with it because I wouldn’t have known what you were talking about or even been able to imagine it as it now is).

And here’s the final irony. We have a TiVo, a device that allows us to watch old TV shows like Maverick and Have Gun Will Travel every night, just like we were back in the 1950s again. Progress.


  1. #1 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkijn-1gjLr7yBcPwkUddF66jpw2j8ecFc
    April 4, 2010

    I’m actually passing on the iPad because it isn’t enough like a laptop.

    Right now, my iPhone does 80% of what my laptop is for when I’m on the road (Communications, web access, notes), and replaces several other portable devices at the same time (iPod, cel phone, game-boy, GPS) and does so in a way that is useful and convenient to carry.

    Once in a blue moon though, I need a laptop; when I need to get work done on the road. For that, I need a file system and something to replicate pro graphics apps like Flash and Photoshop.

    I get why Apple is making the iPad a big iPhone, rather than a flat iBook. It’s a paradigm that works for it. But I can’t do my job on this, and the iPhone works just as well for what I need.

  2. #2 Doazic
    April 4, 2010

    Relative to HP Mini 311 which can run most video games fine and play flash or the HP slate, which again, can run flash and windows 7.

    iPad is Apple’s Waterloo.

  3. #3 eNeMeE
    April 4, 2010

    iPad is Apple’s Waterloo.

    Not a chance. It will do well in sales, and people will buy lots of them.

    It won’t be as useful, versatile, or effective as a whole bunch of alternatives – but tons of people will still buy it.

  4. #4 MoM
    April 5, 2010

    Yep, and since anything that runs on it has to be “Approved by Apple”, don’t look for anything that might piss off Stevie (like the countdown clock that marked the end of the reign of George II that was blocked from the iPhone).

  5. #5 Rogue Epidemiologist
    April 5, 2010

    meh. call me when they’re selling a slick touch screen computer for under $800 that can run Photoshop with stylus.

    iPad has already been jailbroken. so much for the warranty, but now you can get illicit goods to run.

    Some enterprising hackers should operate repair shops for jailbroken Apple toys.

  6. #6 Nomen Nescio
    April 6, 2010

    Some enterprising hackers should operate repair shops for jailbroken Apple toys.

    might be a business model, but i wonder if one could advertise such services without getting sued by apple. (they might not win the suit, but i still wouldn’t be very surprised to see them file it.)

  7. #7 Jonathon Singleton
    April 6, 2010

    Revere: “[US Dollar Conversion across the decades]… the 1981 equivalent for [2010’s] $499… Answer? $209.28. That means this thing is just a tenth the price of my first Apple computer that had no monitor…”

    Revere, truly amazing how tech has altered our culture and dropped in price to become a piss-easy dosh transferal conduit to saving lives… Who will be the first ipad user to donate to my fave OUT Brit lesbians at FOX 2000!?!

    —– Forwarded Email Message —-
    From: Fox 2000
    To: Myra Stratton

    Sent: Fri, February 26, 2010 11:42:25 PM

    Re: Sam Fox is skydiving to help make malaria no more!

    Hello friends,

    Just to let you know that I’m Skydiving on April 8th and need your support:

    Malaria is a massive killer, especially in Africa where tragically a child dies every 30 seconds from the disease, yet it is totally preventable and treatable. That’s why I supported Malaria No More UK when I was in the jungle and I’m now joining fellow celebrities Stuart Manning and Jimmy White in a skydive for the charity! You can find out more about the charity here: http://www.malarianomore.org.uk.

    Please sponsor me – Funds raised from the dive will go to Ghana, where the entire population is at risk of malaria. This money will be used to buy life saving mosquito nets to help cover all families at risk of malaria. A little goes a long way, £5 [US$7.50-ish] will buy, deliver and hang a mosquito net to a family in Ghana and protect two people for up five years.

    I’m aiming to raise at least £2,500 which will cover the cost of the dive and be enough to buy 450 nets and save 900 lives.

    Sponsor me here: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/SamFox

    Love from Sam & Myra.

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