Micro$oft Biz'droid Lusers (was: OT email response format)

From: Mark Tapley <mtapley_at_swri.edu>
Date: Wed Apr 24 11:57:15 2002

On April 21, Richard Erlacher wrote:
>BTW, when the NEXT boxes first came out, we had a few of them sitting around
>for people to look at and play with. I personally was not impressed. They
>were EXTREMELY low on gigaflops per picobuck and, aside from the OS, I don't
>remember any applications that didn't have the same look and feel as a small
>mono-MAC costing ~1/10 as much.

Finally gored my ox - but it's on-topic! Yee-hah.

Nice things created on NeXT systems:

* the WWW (or rather the html protocol underlying it) by Tim Berners Lee

* Mathematica - though probably is not useful to the work you do, it's
indispensable to some of mine.

* Zilla, the fore-runner of most of the distributed-computing,
grid-computing, commodity CPU projects buzzwording around today.
Distributed as an example application on NeXT 3.3 and used to crack several
outstanding mathematical compute-intensive problems.

* Attached sound and graphics files in email. Hmm, maybe this is not good.

Basically, a lot of the computing technologies you now rely on first
appeared on NeXT systems. They may not have impressed you then, but they
should now.

You are right about the Flops rating - that was only a bit higher than
Macs/PC's and well behind Sparc's, Alphas, etc. But Flops/dollar is not the
best metric of a general-purpose computer. If you think it is, buy yourself
a used (Sony) PS/2 and we'll all be happier. For many kinds of work,
developer time to a working solution is the dominant metric, and NeXT was
very near the good end of that scale.

>The problem with these machines, as borne out by the market, is that they
>weren't what the home user wanted.

Quite right - the home user wanted applications, rather than the ability to
develop applications, and the corporate user wanted Flops - which meant
Suns and Alphas. There were not enough developers to float the market for
the hardware. But note, the NeXT company did *not* fail - it successfully
moved its software to Sun, PA-Risc, and x86 platforms, where it maintained
a serious business niche until it eventually was bought out by a higher
volume hardware player - Apple. The same software is now the
second-best-selling (? am I right in claiming this?) OS on the planet.

There's a NeXT on my desk at work right now, running Mathematica and perl
tasks, websurfing, backing up my portable .... its utility (to me) exceeds
that of any Windows machine I've seen.

Count me in with James Rice - if you see a working NeXT of any sort under
$20 or so, and *particularly* if you see a cube hooked up to a color
display, I'd take it most kindly if you'd notify me, or at least someone on
the list. It ain't junk to everyone. Best contact for me is at the above
email address.

                                                                - Mark
Received on Wed Apr 24 2002 - 11:57:15 BST

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