Mono now has native support for Visual Basic. Linux already supports a "console" approach to your hardware: pop in a CD/DVD and boot into a specialized environment. While I think general-purpose computers are more appropriate for intermediate-and-better users, the console approach is very appealing when it comes to training beginners-to-intermediate in complex fields. For instance, I would love to have a "statistics machine," that gave me access to a suite of appropriate tools for my every-few-years need to do something more sophisticated than calculate a standard deviation. (In the meantime, I have Mathematica, which of course can do anything that's asked of it, but the point is that I have to essentially re-learn my own beginner-intermediate understanding of statistics, which is not facilitated by simply having a powerful tool.)
Lisp machines are fondly remembered by some. The only Mac I've ever owned was a "IIFX" that, for me, was essentially a Smalltalk console.