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 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?
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.