When computer-interface expert Joey King got the call from his 81-year-old grandfather, he drove over to his house immediately. His grandfather, who had never used a computer in his life, had just gotten a new Apple iMac and wanted King to set it up for him. But when King got to the house, he told his grandfather that he'd rather watch him try to install it himself. Grandpa lifted the computer out of the box and saw that there were three cords to plug in—one for the phone line, one for the keyboard, one for the mouse. No problem.
Then, without assistance, he turned it on, an amazed King recounted later, "and the screen came on and asked, 'Do you want to be on the Internet?' And he clicked 'Yes.' Then it asked him to type in his ZIP code, and when he did a list of local ISPs came up. He clicked on one, followed a couple more instructions, and within five minutes of getting the thing out of the box, he was on the Internet!"
Small wonder that the iMac ended 1998 as the nation's best-selling PC. I tried imagining a neophyte unpacking a Windows machine and getting online that fast, but all I could remember is a rueful Bill Gates quote I heard years ago: "We never concentrated enough on ease of use." Now it's too late to start.