I am a tinkerer, I have had many cell phones, and the iPhone is the first I made an app for. I specifically always bought phones with some kind of cable to a PC, but in reality I never did it. The secret sauce for me was
1. Great docs on the API including tons of 3rd party sites and books
2. A straight-forward way of getting the app to a store
3. Integrated payment
4. A market
With my other phones, I guess I could have created the app, and used it myself, but the extra incentive of making a few bucks (and that's all I made) was enough to get me to actually do it. I have lots of things I like to tinker on, so it's about prioritizing.
Also, I don't understand what the issue is -- if you want to put an app on your own iPad/iPhone, you can -- just get a developer cert and have at it. You don't need appstore approval. You are in a sandbox, but it's a lot more permissive than a web app is to the browser on your PC, and no one's claiming that that is an impediment to tinkering.
When I learned to program, it was at night after my parents went to bed and using qbasic (I'm young); they wanted me to pursue more noble endeavors like athletics.
If I had tried to explain to them that I needed to pay $99 in order to learn something that they didn't want me to learn to begin with, how do you suppose they would have reacted? Yes, there is an emulator that you can run apps on, but where is the wonderment in that?
I remember how excited I was when I figured out how to make my qbasic programs dial a phone number using the computer's modem...that was AWESOME! This sort of thing won't happen on the iPad. Yes, there are people (people who are already developers) who get excited about it, but to a kid, it is a black box.
It's not that people are upset about the iPad specifically, it's that they're upset about the direction that it is nudging computers.
You're being, probably not deliberately, a bit disingenuous here. If this was any time after the 80s, the BASIC that the machine came with was /not/ the same thnig that was used to make professional programs. A C compiler or assembler would cost you more than $99 in today's money.
You can download and use, if you have Mac, Xcode for free, only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old.
About the only /practical/ argument I see here is that you can't program an iPhone or iPad using the device itsself, but that's not even entirely true - there are web sites out there that let you code in web technologies from a browser (hrm, maybe that's a business idea - code iPad web apps from the iPad Safari...).
"If this was any time after the 80s, the BASIC that the machine came with was /not/ the same thnig that was used to make professional programs. A C compiler or assembler would cost you more than $99 in today's money."
"only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old."
You have to pay 99$ per year. What dev tool pricing "of old" had an annual license fee of 20% of the device cost to load your program onto your device?
You're correct - none. I could make the argument that many people would pay for the new upgrades to their compiler, text editor, etc at least yearly, but you're right that they didn't have to to continue using them. I'm not sure that matters though - even as a yearly fee, $99 just isn't that expensive compared to how thing were in this supposed Golden Age, even compared to the old one-off costs - especially inflation-adjusted.
To be clear, I'm not saying things wouldn't be better if this was all free of charge, or that Apple's tight grip on the platform is great for society (I think that's a different argument entirely). I'm just saying that the argument that everything was better and more accesible to new users in the old days is a bit of a 'rose tinted spectacles' one.
I am a tinkerer. I want to jailbreak the thing. Make an app that track my bubblegums and is useful for me alone. I want to change the darn springboard icons and have my girlfriend's photo as the wallpaper. I want to install an utility that allows me to have tweetdeck running in the background. I want to install firefox. And Android. I want to crash and brick the stupid thing and then find a way to restore it to life. I won't care about the guarantee, because I'm a tinkerer and I want to OWN the f'ing machine that I purchased with my hard earned dollars and I don't want any one -- not even a skinny bald guy at cupertino who distorts reality -- to tell me what I can't do.
But they do. They tell me what I can not do and they will use every resource at their disposal to make sure that I don't.