the stigmata of IBM feces

From: Tom Jennings <>
Date: Fri Feb 4 11:45:37 2005

On Fri, 4 Feb 2005, Jim Leonard wrote:

> Why the stigma against IBM? Is the Model 5150 not "old" enough? Or is it
> because that its grandchildren are still in use today? (This question isn't
> directed squarely at you, but at everyone on this list who feels the same way --
> again, not passing judgement, just trying to understand why (mostly) everyone
> on this list seems to hate "peecees")

I don't hate ibm feces (said name pun merely language-based; I'm
typing on one now -- I proudly drive a nash can) "...children are
in use today..." that's I think it, for me. Too familiar to bother
with. Each hir own, ad nauseum.

Certainly a big part of my fascination with old tech -- and I try
to exploit this quite explicitly in my artwork -- is that for a
given old machine (say 1960's) it can be both familiar and utterly
alien, at the same time. The dissonance is what's fun.

It's a computer 'but look how strange it is!' relative to today.
Paper tape text editors! Weeeird!

It's like travel to a parallel universe, that you can actually
pull off.

I just had to drag a smart, motivated but inexperienced UC grad
student through debugging a PIC-based serial communications
bring-up on virgin hardware, with a 'scope, debugging async
character bit patters. You forget just how many fundamental
assumptions you make until you have to explain how async works to
someone who's first project was a Java web app. There's no lack of
smarts -- I couldn't (because I won't devote the brain cells) do
that Java app -- ugh. [He determined that the output was inverted,
based upon the fact that the ASCII character "U" is the same
inverted and not!]

But explaining where mark and space came from originally actually
helped make actual sense of it, rather than just memorization. It
makes the mundane more interesting, and if you look at most
descriptions of technical things, there's usually no history, no
context. It's just rote memorization for some stupid-ass industry
that wants you to make a lot of money for them. Never did that,
never will. Life's too short!

If you see any errors, let me know.

PS: the big-endian numbering is intentional.
Received on Fri Feb 04 2005 - 11:45:37 GMT

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