krpalmer: (apple)
[personal profile] krpalmer
A little while ago I happened on a bit of "old computer news" that did make me think a bit. I wasn't certain, though, if I was "connected" enough to it to be able to build off it and produce a little more content for this journal. A little while after that, though, I happened on another bit of news, and while I might not be that much more connected to it I did decide I could roll my thoughts together.

The first bit of news was hearing that the founder of Commodore International, Jack Tramiel, had died. I knew of the historical role Commodore had played in the development of home and personal computing, but only after the fact; our family stayed "faithful to Radio Shack" and it never really registered on me that there were home computers with better sound and graphics than the Color Computer (with its typical black-white-red-blue games) until I started noticing Nintendo consoles and PC clones in the homes of friends. (In picking up things "after the fact," though, it has sort of registered on me that while people make positive comments nowadays about how the Commodore 64 "encouraged learning programming" because it had BASIC built in, the only way to really get at its graphics and sound from that BASIC was to use it to punch machine-code numbers into memory...) I suppose I've wondered if the Commodore partisans have a chip on their shoulder about how if not the winners then at least the survivors have written the history books and the defunct company isn't praised as much as they'd like it to be.

The other bit of news was that we've made it to the thirty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II. There, of course, I have scarcely more in the way of connection (although it does make me think we're not far now from the thirty-fifth anniversaries of Star Wars and the original TRS-80); I used some Apple IIs at school but that was it. However, it just so happens there are online sources of software for its emulator programs, so I've had some recent experiences with its quirks, and daydreamed a bit about "counterfactual history." It's been pointed out that the eight expansion slots of the Apple II were added to it on Steve Wozniak's insistence over Steve Jobs's thoughts two would be more than plenty, and that those expansion slots could add capabilities to it that kept them selling and supporting Apple Computer while its attempts at successor machines were sputtering and struggling. That's led to my noticing some Apple II partisans with a chip on their shoulder about how their computer was at last left to wither on the branches. My idle thought, though (and, of course, I don't know it would have actually happened that way), was that a two-slot Apple II just might have been successfully enhanced to an eight-slot model after the fact, thus setting up a pattern of methodical advance instead of attempts at great leaps.
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