USING classic machines

From: <(>
Date: Fri Jun 27 08:02:56 1997

 I monitor this mailing list (some might call it lurking) because of all the
 now-classic machines that I used to own. If I had the room, time, and skill,
 I might be a collector like most of you, but for now I must be content to
 watch. I'm glad to see that so many people are still getting use out of these
 machines. There are certainly times when I wish I understood what was going
 on inside a Windows 95 box as well as I understood the various Kaypros, the
 Geneva, the Timex-Sinclair, the Model 100, or the other machines I once used
 on a daily basis. I suppose that even my Mac SE would qualify as a "classic
 machine" by now.

 On the other hand, let's not go overboard and say that you can do as much with
 those lean, mean computers of yesteryear as you can with today's bloated and
 overpowered desktop Cadillacs. Despite the processing power and overhead
 devoted to being more user friendly, today's machines are better at doing most
 kinds of real work. Okay, if you're just writing business letters or
 balancing your checkbook, a Kaypro is going to work just as well as a Dell
 Pentium. But that's only one extreme. When I was working on my dissertation,
 I wrote a cluster analysis program for my Kaypro II because it was the only
 machine I had. It took months to write and debug the program (written in
 S-BASIC), and every time I ran the analysis it took two days--literally, 48+
 hours of grinding away. I could do the same thing in seconds using SAS and
 the P133 machine on which I'm typing this. In fact, I do this sort of thing
 for a living, and there are so many things that would be a major project on a
 classic machine which I do now just as a matter of preliminary exploration.

 And it's not just statistics. Writing reports is much easier with a mouse and
 multitasking. Getting data from dBASE II to Perfect Calc and then moving the
 summary table to Wordstar or Perfect Writer was a considerable chore.
 Yesterday I zapped a bunch of Quattro Pro tables (based on SAS output) over to
 a Word document, and everything showed up with no trouble, formatting and all.
 Those are programs written by rival companies, but they can talk to each other
 just fine.

 Others have mentioned that it takes more skill and intelligence to use classic
 software than to point and click. I don't disagree with that, and I'm proud
 of what I was able to get those machines to do. Learning to use those kinds
 of computers has given me a better outlook about later ones, and I still tweak
 my current set up much more than most people (and certainly more than our IT
 department would like me to). But then, I remember a lot of people in my
 Kaypro User's Group who never figured out how to use the modems in their 2Xs.
  Friendlier interfaces have opened up the benefits of computing to a lot of
 people who would never have put up with CP/M. After all computers are
 _supposed_ to make your life easier. If that means they require less
 intelligence and skill to use, that means they're doing their job.

Received on Fri Jun 27 1997 - 08:02:56 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:30:30 BST