Things have changed.

When I graduated from Vanderbilt, Gil Amelio was still technically the CEO of Apple, the stock was still stooging around 15 or so, and you could be forgiven for thinking the name of the company was “Beleaguered Apple Computer.”  Now, once again, people are lined up around the block.

The funny thing to me is that people only line up around the block for the iPhone and iPad.  There’s not a mad run on the Apple stores for a new MacBook Air or a new iMac. And I don’t remember this kind of madness for the previous generation of Apple goods, or even for the iPod in its heyday – largely because, for the most part, a lot of those things were announced as “and this is on sale TODAY.”  I wonder if the week or two between announce and release was a deliberate move to get the free advertising from the lines at launch – actually I don’t wonder at all.  Steve was no idiot.

But the lines form for the iPhone and iPad, because they are personalized in a way computers never were.  Even the most cozy cuddly 11″ MacBook Air is running UNIX and is a multiuser system.  The iOS devices are a throwback to the original Mac – there’s no login (aside from the security code), there’s no multiple user IDs, there’s no computer-ness between you and the interface.  Just touch, and go – full screen, the way ‘Er Indoors prefers to compute.  The iPad has become the first truly personal computer – something as close to you as your phone.

One of these days, I’m going to sit down and look at my life in the future, twenty-five years on from when I first really started to think about it.  It’s amazing how much of it looks like something I might have imagined, right down to the do-everything handheld and the car with the red light from the dashboard idling while I look at my future-Ironman and wear my future-Barons hat.

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