In his post The Kids are Alright, John Gruber quotes a bunch of people complaining that the iPad isn't a hacker playground. Cory Doctorow kvetches that you can't open it up. Alex Pane frets kids with iPads won't grow up to become programmers. Mark Pilgrim despairs that Apple is trying to stunt his kids' sense of wonder. Good lord, guys, get a grip!
As Gruber points out, you can indeed write code for iPad—it just requires a Mac to do it on. And just like Gruber, my first computer—the one that inspired me to learn how to write programs—was an Atari 2600. Could you code directly on it? The BASIC Programming cartridge aside, no. But I wanted to learn to write the kind of games I was playing, so when my dad bought an IBM PC I picked up the BASIC manual and got cracking.
Machines like these inspire kids. They want to know what makes them work, and how to make them work differently. If you want to bag on a technology platform, go after the video game console market. Good luck cobbling together a little app in your bedroom for your PS3. But the minute my kids ask me for a Mac mini and an Apple Developer Program account, I'll buy it. And when they do, I bet they will have been inspired by a descendant of the iPad.