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Computer revolution

  1. Feb 22, 2015 #1
    Ok, maybe I was inspired by the commercial on the Oscars tonight with Steve Wozniak, so please forgive me. Before I wax an opinion here, I'll start by establishing my street cred. I got my first Vic20 in 1982. I wrote a video game and an article that COMPUTE! magazine paid me $175 dollars for. I don't know if they ever actually published the article, though. But I do have a copy of the check. I was 14.

    Plus, in those days, to get an extra few kilobytes of memory you had to buy a "cartridge" for 30 bucks. Me and a friend actually breadboarded a memory unit of the same capacity for about 6 dollars, and consolidated it on a photoetched board we let sit in the sun on the roof of the apartment complex. I planned on making a business out of this but it didn't work out.

    In any case, as a child of the 80's computer revolution, I just wanted to say that I don't think that Bill Gates and Paul Allen contributed anything significant to that revolution. They were just a couple of average Joes that were at the right place at the right time, and had the benefit that Bill's dad was a high powered lawyer.

    Contrast this with the Steve Jobs and Wozniak story. Wozniak was a true polymath, I think it's arguable that he really set the mode of the revolution. Jobs' legacy is well documented. I personally use Windows based systems because they are cheaper and the community development is much stronger on that platform, but you could have taken any Jim, Joe or Harry and done what Microsoft did. I think those guys are secretly ashamed of the billions they've illegitimately made.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2015 #2


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    Uh-huh. Sackcloth and ashes all the way to the bank.
  4. Feb 22, 2015 #3
    Well, there's no law that says you can't enjoy your spoils and be secretly ashamed of them at the same time.
  5. Feb 23, 2015 #4


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    Rave on, Buddy, rave on!

    You never explained what was 'illegitimate' about what Microsoft did. Sure, MS was the recipient of some big breaks along the way, but being lucky is not the same as being illegitimate.

    MS was an early provider of software development tools which then backed into OS development when the IBM PC came along. At that time, one of their great rivals was Digital Research, which had a lock on the Intel 8080 and Zilog Z80 based micros with their CP/M OS. Digital Research had an opportunity to do a deal with IBM similar to what was offered to MS, but its CEO, for whatever reason, did not come to terms, and it wasn't because Gates' dad performed some Jedi mind-trick on him.

    The current Windows GUI paradigm has its origins in work done at Xerox PARC in the mid 1970s. Other things which came out of this organization include laser printing, WYSIWYG editors, networking, etc.


    Steve Jobs took at least one tour of Xerox PARC, and a lot of his future ideas on the LISA, the Mac, and NeXT Computer are said to have been inspired by this visit.
  6. Feb 23, 2015 #5
    Ok, maybe "illegitimate" was too strong a word. Perhaps it was the fact that it was too legitimate that's unsettling. I don't fault Microsoft for their aggressive business tactics, business is business. I do fault the US Justice department, though, in floundering their anti-trust case. I can't believe how that action just fell down on it's face. It seemed patently obvious to me that Microsoft having a collar on DOS was anti-competitive. It still affects me today, I just recently had to shell out $107 for Windows 8.1, because they stopped supporting the XP operating system I've been milking for the last decade. Lol. The alternatives are not practically viable for most individual PC users as far as I can tell.
  7. Feb 23, 2015 #6
    This may be one of those cases then where you simply need to "vote with you wallet." Yes it's inconvenient to leave the MS ecosystem, it's even worse if you try to leave the iOS ecosystem. But if you really dislike the status quo, then just bite the bullet and leave. If enough ppl do it, then things will change for the better.

    That's what I did. I didn't like the direction MS was taking so I dropped them. There's plenty of alternatives and they all work good. Obviously, its not the same but with a bit of effort, it's more or less the same. Absolutely none of my work has been affected by switching from MS to Linux. The only thing that's worse is the gaming. Many don't work period, some need some fiddling in WINE, but a lot are supported under Linux.

    Overall, it's been a positive experience and I'm glad I'm through with MS.
  8. Feb 25, 2015 #7


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    Whatever condemnations of Microsoft people may level--and I know there are many--Bill Gates caused them to do one special thing that no other company did, and that in large part is responsible for their survival over the decades. It's called "backward compatibility". I know a hardware store that still uses an MS-DOS program from the 1980's to match paint colors. Gates insisted, and MIcrosoft always did, attempt to keep backward compatibility for each new operating system release. This fact is highly underestimated when people look at history. It was key.
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