Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

The iPhone smokescreen


Here's a bold prediction: The iPhone that Apple Inc. introduced yesterday won't be a runaway success. It will never sell tens of millions of units, nor is it intended to. In reality, it's a flagship product intended to define the high-end of Apple's new ultraportable media computer lineup.

Let's face it, the classic iPod has reached the end of its natural life. Even the most recent fifth generation iPods are showing their age. The screen is small, the OS extremely limited. To make things worse, Apple's competition has been nipping at their heels with rapidly improving devices such as SanDisk's tiny Sansa flash players and the Creative Zen Vision:M.

The iPod line needed a reboot, and the iPhone was splashiest way to do it. In fact, this device is the logical evolution of the Newton MessagePad. Think about it. Apple realized that boring contact lists, calendars and handwriting recognition won't encourage the Unwashed Masses to adopt portable computers. People are far more media-centric than that.

The rejuvenated iPod lineup will tempt you with music, movies and games, while offering an addictive combination of go-anywhere Wi-Fi browsing and email. And you can bet that Apple is planning to open up third-party development as quickly as possible.

As for the iPhone device, the bleak reality is that it is slightly larger than a 5G iPod. Too big to slip into the pocket of my jeans, which means it's too large to use as my everyday phone. My hard drive-equipped iPod usually lives in a messenger bag on my shoulder or in a jacket pocket, simply because it's too bulky to function as an "everywhere" communications accessory. I wouldn't be willing to carry something as large or expensive as the iPhone with me everywhere I go. I'd look like a dork with my calculator on a belt clip. Besides, mobile phones are expensive enough to begin with and many people (especially students) will balk at the idea of committing to a 2 year $1000+ mobile voice/data/voicemail contract after shelling out $599 for the iPhone itself.

No, the real magic will happen when Apple releases a $299 version of this device - the next generation iPod - that retains everything but the GSM + EDGE phone technology. At that point, the iPod will be perfectly positioned to become everyone's favorite teeny-tiny ultraportable computer.


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