'Home' computer: Definition

From: DAVID L. ORMAND <dlormand_at_aztec.asu.edu>
Date: Thu Jul 3 16:04:56 1997

Somehow, a discussion I started of actually USING "home computers"
(versus merely collecting them) degenerated into a fight about what a
"home computer" is. And a sister discussion I attempted to start about
putting "modern" applications on classic machines yielded discouraging
words, too.

I guess I should have started out with my ulterior motives.

For a computer to survive as anything more than a relic, it has to have
a user community. Now, I suppose I could use my TI for "typical home
computing tasks" with the software I already have whether there was
anyone else in the world using a TI or not. And I suppose I would, too.
But for other jobs I wanted done that my computer COULD do (even if
being a Web browser is NOT one of them), I would either have to program
it myself, or find someone else to do it. And if I did it myself, most
of the fun is sharing it with other TI users. And part of the fun of
having this old computer is that there are other people bucking the
trend along with me. In other words, we have a TI computer user
community, and that is a very hefty reason for sticking with the TI

In fact, the TI community is shrinking, and as the members of the
community observe it shrinking, some are inclined to bail out ("rats
abandoning a sinking ship"). Given that trend, the community will
waste away to a few hardcores unless there is new life added, either in
exciting new "modern applications" or attracting new people to adopt a
simple machine that can perform "common everyday household computing
tasks" that they DON'T need a Pentium to do.

Of course, while my main loyalties are to the TI-99/4A, I recognize all
the other "home computers" suffer from the same conditions, and I was
hoping to create a dialog for HOW to do this, particularly strategies to
attract people to join the community, and to share technology of "modern
applications" that one community may have successfully achieved and
another could use.

So what I was fishing for was the thoughts of those people who read this
List and understand the dilemma. In a Wintel-dominated world, is it
even FEASIBLE to try to attract other people to choose from the
abundance of small computer systems, otherwise destined for the landfill
or recyclers?

My previous remarks about mainframes, which were interpreted as saying
that they are not "home computers", were made from the point of view
(and perhaps in ignorance) that, while C64s, Atari 8-bitters, TIs,
CoCos, and other "home computers" that were sold FOR THAT PURPOSE in
K-Mart and other department stores DO (or at least did) have a user
community, sharing programs, encouraging other users, forming User
Groups, publishing Newsletters, etc., other machines (such as the
PDP class of mains, minis, etc. and maybe Altairs and S-100 bus
computers) do NOT have this aspect to their existence. I guess I
do know about DECUS; don't know if something like that existed for
PDP-11 owners or not, or even if professionally-oriented thing like
DECUS would be applicable here. I certainly did not mean to imply that
these machines are not useful for "household computing jobs", and by no
means did I intend that this mailing list is only for the classic "home
computers" with user communities, or to exclude anyone else from

* David Ormand           *** Southwest 99ers *
* dlormand_at_aztec.asu.edu *** Tucson, Arizona *
**************************** TMS9900 Lives!  *
Received on Thu Jul 03 1997 - 16:04:56 BST

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