The New Model 100

Has anyone else noticed that iA Writer’s “focus mode” turns your iPad into a TRS-80 Model 100?

Some of you are too young to remember the Model 100. I travelled with one of these bulletproof boxes for years, starting in 1984. It ran forever on AA batteries. It had a full-size keyboard for touch-typing. The acoustic couplers would connect you to CompuServe or your corporate mainframe at 300 bps over anything… hotel phone, pay phone (remember those?), and probably a barbed-wire fence. I loved it. So did a lot of people; Radio Shack sold 6 million of them.  It became standard issue for foreign correspondents and other road warriors.

One drawback was the display: big, clearly legible LCD dot-matrix, but limited to 8 rows of 40 columns. That was a bit cramped, but I wrote multiple-page memos on the thing. I even claimed that it helped me focus.   

Today, I spend most of my time on the road using my iPad. Computationally, it’s not even in the same universe as the Model 100. But, if I need to type more than half a page or so (this blog post, for example), I’m likely to rotate my iPad sideways and fire up the superb iA Writer.

One of the features of iA Writer is an optional “focus mode” that removes all framing and dims everything but the last few lines. I feel like I’m using my Model 100 again.

iA Writer is five bucks on the iTunes App Store. Whether you use the focus mode or not, its a great tool for banging out text. And, like everything else in the iOS universe, it syncs with Dropbox. Go buy it. (If you’re one of those people who complains about $4.99 productivity apps being “overpriced,” then we can’t be friends any more.)


  1. I have seen this app but remain skeptical. It’s not the money, but while already typing 50wpm+ on the ipad, how much time can this app really save?