Today I learned about HyperCard, a system where you could implement a basic calculator in a few easy steps, one of them involving the following impressively English-like snippet:
on mouseUp get name of me put the value of the last word of it after card field "lcd" end mouseUp
The article depicts HyperCard as a system making programming accessible to people who aren't professional developers. It is claimed that Apple likely killed off the product because it's inconsistent with its business model (roughly, devices bought to consume rather than to create).
I sympathize with the sentiment – I very much like stuff you can tinker with, and dislike business models discouraging tinkering. However, I don't think businesses have the power to prevent anything that works well for many people from happening. A conspiracy of typewriter manufacturers could never stop the PC.
This seems especially true with software, where huge systems can be built by volunteers in their spare time. If an idea works, if a software system wants to be built around it, it will be built.
Of course it may be the case that the time hasn't come for a programming system for non-developers. It's just my opinion that it never will come, not really. Why?
Not because you need much education to program. Very useful stuff can be built without knowing why optimal sorting is O(n*log(n)), or even what big O means.
Not because programming languages must have, or typically have arcane syntax. As a kid, I found Pascal's somewhat English-like "begin" and "end" off-putting, and was greatly relieved to discover Algolish braces. How close to natural language syntax can get, and whether it is at all beneficial to go there is IMO an irrelevant question. The fact is that programming languages can be very readable to people.
The main reason is that development leads to maintenance, and maintenance leads to suffering.
For example, if your program stores persistent data, and you want to change it, your changes to the program must be done such as to preserve the meaning of existing data. This part of development causes major pain everywhere, from video recording to financial databases to compiler construction. No amount of knowledge and no amount of support from the tools make this fun.
There are many other things. Everything in your program's environment is unstable and you must constantly update the program to keep up. Your program gets cluttered with options and you forget what does what. There are cases you didn't test – spaces in the names, empty data fields, reverse order of operations.
As a result, maintenance means dealing with misbehaving programs that eat data, send trash around, or simply make you wait for an hour and then watch them produce garbage.
This never ends and quickly stops being fun. When something useful can not be done quickly and isn't the average person's idea of fun, it becomes the business of professionals – or hardcore hobbyists indistinguishable from professionals. As a counter-example, many people like cooking in their spare time without necessarily getting close to the level of a chef or spending that much time cooking. Con Kolivas, on the other hand, could technically be called a "hobbyist", but he could be called a "professional" as well.
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there are plenty of places where a sprinkle of logic – in textual form or graphical form or whatever form – can be figured out quickly, left alone and be useful ever after. It's just that it's usually the opposite with me. Every time I have a nice little idea it takes me 10x the time it "should" take to implement, and most things keep biting me once in a while for a long time.
Programming isn't for everyone because it is not fun to maintain what was fun to program.