The End of an Era


The iPhone has been on the market for more than a year now, and as a result technology manufacturers are beginning to see the touch screen as a viable solution for personal computing.

Before the iPhone hit the market in 2007 the general population’s experience with a touch screen interface was limited to devices such as the Palm (s palm) Treo, Tablet PC’s, and GPS navigation systems.  All of which have one thing in common, their touch screen interfaces can only recognize a single point of contact at a time.  It wasn’t until the iPhone that consumers really got a taste of a practical use for the touch screen, and we have started seeing multi-touch interfaces making their way into other products such as HP’s (s hpq) Touch Smart PC.

There is one word that I find most appropriate to describe what Apple (s aapl) has accomplished with their multi-touch user interface for the iPhone: renaissance.  As many of you recall from your days in literature classes, renaissance means rebirth, and I see it as the rebirth of the personal computer, meaning the end of the keyboard and mouse interface.

The way I see it, a personal computer is defined by four major components: the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and CPU.  Just looking at Apple’s iMac line of products, they have already combined the CPU and monitor.  Imagine if Apple or another company elaborated a bit more on that concept and discontinued the keyboard and mouse all together.

I am not implying that slapping a touch screen on a current Mac or PC and calling it a day. But rather I believe that in the next few years we will see the standard of the personal computing interface change dramatically, and possibly take a backseat to practicality.

As consumers are we beginning to see the keyboard/mouse dynasty come to an end as touch screens become more advanced? Perhaps this is propelling us into the next level of home computing where the nerd fantasy of owning the Minority Report computer becomes a reality.



I agree with Allister, take those new HP touchsmart pieces of garbage. Everyone thinks they are so cool, until they use it for more than 10 minutes and their arms are killing them. Is it a good idea? Sure, but it is failure by design.


It sounds like a good idea but there is a fundamental problem to overcome. With a full size touch screen on a desk you either have to hang your head to look at the screen flat on the desk or raise your arms to use a traditionally placed screen. Either one is an ergonomic nightmare.

More likely, I think, is to replace the mouse and keyboard with a single touch sensitive device, probably with display capabilities but not being the primary display.

Beyond that is stuff like air gestures, voice commands and eyeball tracking.

David B

Not to say it’s impossible, but if it ever does happen I will be holding onto my physical-keyboard hardware for as long as possible. I like a good keyboard; it’s one of the things that drew me to a MacBook. As well as I can type on my iPhone, I can’t see typing for any length of time on something without nice, tactile feedback.

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