'Home' computer: Definition

From: Sam Ismail <dastar_at_crl.com>
Date: Fri Jul 4 00:36:46 1997

On Thu, 3 Jul 1997, DAVID L. ORMAND wrote:

> 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 wouldn't necessarily call it a fight. More like a debate.

> 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
> computer.
> 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.

All this (and I'm not just picking on you David) is just so much
techno ludditism. That's like arguing that the Model T is still a usable
car and we must keep driving it to keep it viable? Why? Sure it's still
usable in that you can still drive around in one, but technology moves
on. If you want to keep it viable, more power to you. But don't expect
people to follow suit. Most people would rather use the latest and greatest.

I collect the old stuff for a number of reasons. I like to boot them up
once in a while and use them, but I can't possibly make it a point of
using all of them.

I can see even if you have just one system that you still use all the
time (I used my Apple //e up until about 1992) but there comes a point
where you have to just move on, for some at least (me).

> 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?

Not likely. There's no money in it. Why spend all your time and energy
writing non-saleable TI apps when you can be writing million dollar
peecee games?

> 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

Oh hardly! I hope you're only referring to the fact that you wouldn't
buy mainframes and mini's in Kmart, but there certainly were communities
of users around these machines. Those old behemoths are as loved by
older generations of programmers as your Ataris, TIs and Commodore's are.

Computer Historian, Programmer, Musician, Philosopher, Athlete, Writer, Jackass
Received on Fri Jul 04 1997 - 00:36:46 BST

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