In his last weekly column, Walt Mossberg ponders the disappearing computer

“This is my last weekly column for The Verge and Recode — the last weekly column I plan to write anywhere,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. ” I’ve been doing these almost every week since 1991, starting at The Wall Street Journal, and during that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the makers of the tech revolution, and to ruminate — and sometimes to fulminate — about their creations.”

“Now, as I prepare to retire at the end of that very long and world-changing stretch, it seems appropriate to ponder the sweep of consumer technology in that period, and what we can expect next,” Mossberg writes. “Let me start by revising the oft-quoted first line of my first Personal Technology column in the Journal on October 17th, 1991: ‘Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it’s not your fault.'”

Walt Mossberg
Walt Mossberg
“But, over time, the products have gotten more reliable and easier to use, and the users more sophisticated. You can now hand an iPad to a six-year-old, and, with just a bit of help, she will very likely learn how to operate it quickly. That’s amazing, given that the iPad is far more powerful than any complex PC I was testing in the 1990s,” Mossberg writes. “The multi-touch smartphone, launched 10 years ago with Apple’s first iPhone, has conquered the world, and it’s not done getting better. It has, in fact, become the new personal computer… Soon, after a brief slowdown, the roller coaster will be accelerating faster than ever, only this time it’ll be about actual experiences [ambient computing], with much less emphasis on the way those experiences get made.”

Much more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Walt’s last weekly column. Wow!

Have a long, happy, and healthy retirement, Walt!

Walt Mossberg is retiring in June – April 7, 2017


  1. End of an era, for sure…

    As for computers, today’s iPad has more processing power, more storage space, more RAM, more pixels on the display than an average PC had in 2002 (15 years ago). Back then, on the PC, we had all these heavy-demand tools for creatives (Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Logic, Pro Tools, Freehand…). I would be curious to know how do the versions of these tools from back then compare to their current versions (except for Freehand, which is now gone). Would the creative professionals be able to make a living today using the computer software from 2002? And if yes, how do the software tools for iPad of today compare with the ones from 2002?

    The result I’m trying to achieve is that the iPad has quite a lot of built-in muscle, and there is no real reason (other than inertia) why someone would not be able to do work on it.

    1. The answer is a resounding, “No.”

      Creative professionals using today’s tools on today’s Pro machines don’t compete against others that are using 2002 era tools. They are competing with others using today’s computers and today’s tools. If they want to get work and stay profitable they need to be using leading edge hardware and software. (Though, I will admit that there is likely a small subset of professionals with such unique talents that they could be using a Mac II and still find plenty of work.)

      Computers will likely never be fast enough. If we *ever* see the spin cursor (what most people refer to at the spinning beach ball), then the computer is too slow. If we *ever* are waiting long enough on any task that we can walk down the hall to get a cup of coffee while the computer crunches away, then the computer is too slow.

      Yes, computers ARE getting faster and more capable. (Back in the 80s I ran simulations that took 60-80 hours per iteration on a Cray XMP4/4; now I’m down to overnight [16 -18 hours] on a local Top500 cluster; hopefully within the next 5 years or so it will be down to an afternoon on a single dedicated machine [or over lunch?]. However, I don’t expect real-time answers in my lifetime.

      There will always be a need for better tools and faster hardware.

    2. Comparing Apples and Oranges across history is fun but pointless. Nobody today uses a PowerPC machine to make a living.

      But that doesn’t make an iPad a complete machine. Unlike the G4 PowerBook from 15 years ago, today’s iPad has:
      – no battery swap
      – no ability to upgrade RAM
      – no ability to upgrade hard drive
      – smaller screen
      – 9 missing connections
      -a shitty limiting OS

      So while indeed miniaturization and progress has allowed the current iPad to eclipse the no-longer-supported TiBook in weight, processing power, and battery life, most of what iPad brings to the table ARE NOT IMPORTANT TO PROS. Today’s currently supported Macs blow iPads out of the water in all the ways that matter.

      What Apple needs to do is improve all of its Macs so they once again blow Wintel machines out of the water, too. Unlike 15 years ago, today the Macs do not.

    3. I have an iPad Pro 12.9 (and an iPhone 7 plus as Walt’s article mentioned phones)

      I also have upgraded Cheese Grater MPs.
      Typing this on one (48 GB RAM , upgraded 6 core Xeons, 980 ti ) with two 27 inch monitors.

      No the iPad Pro is not going to match my Mac set up.

      The problem with your hypothesis about work form 2002 is that Work ALSO has NOT STAYED STILL.

      for example the Games in 2002 in respect to graphics is a joke compared to today. Like 2002 Pac Man (or whatever they played then ) vs a 3D game today.

      To do (some) of the work today you need PCs (Macs) to todays standards (not to mention proper keyboards and a file system)

      Walt hypothezing that PCs are not needed in the article as most people are satisfied with less power is not really Apple’s philosophy otherwise iPhones won’t need A10 chips as 80% of the population is satisfied with cheap Androids.

      WORK : sure you can build a pyramid with picks and shovels, but way way easier with trucks, bulldozers, drones etc…

  2. Sorry i ain’t writing the desktop’s epitaph yet, not hardly. That’ll be far after I shuffle off this mortal coil. While I love my mobile devices for when I need the access to the technology available to me when I am mobile there’s still nothing I like better than sitting comfortably at a desk with a cuppa Jill (creme British tea) with a huge monitor with lots of real estate and doing anything my little heart desires, including writing, video editing, sound, listening to music, etc..

    Now you can do some this stuff with mobile gear too but for me it’s much too confining. Mobile is a backpack trip and desktop is cruising in an RV in wide open spaces.

    Everything just complements everything else in my opinion. Mobile devices are NOT sealing the fate or doom of desktop. And one doesn’t have to die for the other to also be successful. This is shit only writers like to dream up on deadline and bereft of anything useful to say.

    Not referring particularly to Walt. He’s had a great career and contributed lots to the tech space. Have a nice retirement Walt! I’m loving mine (semi-retirement anyway).

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