It’s been more than half a century since I first got involved with computers. Back then the CDC 3600 computer used by the university took up an entire floor of the Computer Science center. The operator’s console looked similar to the helm of the Enterprise on the Star Trek series, filled with spinning tapes and flashing lights. Writing programs as a student required a lot of waiting, first to get access to a keypunch machine on which to prepare the program. Then we turned in our deck of cards and waited until enough student programs of very low priority got processed. Typically this was the next day.
As I sit here writing this on a computer with thousands of times more capability, it’s hard to believe how much has changed since I started. In fact I have three computers that far exceed what that university computer could do. One is in my pocket and one is strapped to my wrist. The evolution of technology has been fascinating to watch, even as it continues. I never could have imagined the world we have today, or the problems that have come with the progress.
Sewing has evolved to the point that just about anyone who sews is involved with a computer in some way. The first sewing software was developed for Microsoft Windows, mainly because anyone who actually had a computer had one that used Windows. In the nearly 20 years since the first computer connected machines arrived we now use mobile devices, in the form of phone or tablets. Tablets in particular have been adopted by Janome, with apps for the Apple iPad that can connect with some computer models. They still offer some software for Windows, and more recently for Apple Macintosh. Unfortunately you still need to have both a computer and a tablet to use all of the available software.
Windows has evolved as the computer hardware has gained in speed and capability. Each version comes with problems in upgrading older software, and there is new complexity with each update. Ironically, with the exception of embroidery digitizing, all of the functions that are needed for sewing can be accomplished by apps on a tablet. In fact, for most people, a tablet is all the computer they need. Worldwide there are still a lot of people that don’t own a computer, but 85% of the world has a smart phone. These phones would be better labeled as pocket computers, because they are fully functional computers in every sense of the word.
Tablet computers are now overtaking laptops in terms of capability and power. The recent updates to Apple’s iPad Pro line makes it a suitable laptop replacement for most people. In the sewing room a tablet is much easier to manage than a Windows desktop or laptop, partly because of the portability and also because of the ease of use. I have been developing apps for iPhone and iPads for 8 years now, and expect that I will see the day when just about any sewing software you need will be available on that platform. Even now we look back at the early days of floppy disks, and even CD-ROMs and marvel at how primitive they were. Once the machine companies catch up, it will no longer be necessary to spend valuable sewing time wrestling with the complexity of Windows.