Old days of computing

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Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:29 pm

With all of the talk about standards, compatibility, ease of use, and now with Windows 8 seeming to head more towards a locked-down kiosk, I'm really missing the old days of computing. There was no standard. You had different brands. Tandy, Timex, Commodore, Atari, Apple, IBM, and some other obscure computer companies. I know it was more difficult with the different choices, but that is what made computing more fun IMO. That and before plug-and-play. You had to manually set the jumpers inside your computer for different I/O address, IRQ, and DMA. It wasn't as easy as configuring and using a computer in today's world, but there was a sense of satisfaction in the challenge and sucessfully making something work right. That and it was yours, and it was unique. You had a different monster than your neighbor. Kind of like the Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo vs. anything else. They each had their own unique graphics and style of sound. To me, it was a more beautiful world having the variety, and then needing the knowledge to make it work right.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:00 pm

Sounds like you ought to be running Linux... :wink:
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:04 pm

I do. However, I wish I would have used linux back in the day when there was still no GUI. Studies show that when you learn something when you are young, you pick it up much more quickly. I'm still learning how all of the innards work. I usually read online how to do something. I've had to make symbolic links before, but I have no idea what they are. It would be nice to learn programming as well. I would like to contribute to the Linux community. Sometimes I would love to have the knowledge to write a program or fix a bug that would solve problems I run into.
Last edited by moresmarterthanspock on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:06 pm

You can still use that Linux these days. Slackware and Debian[1] are your friends.

Can't say I miss my Apple //c that much, as much as I learned on it.


[1] you'll need to install from a netinst ISO and then have tasksel install a standard system, without the desktop environment.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:07 pm

I learned to use an Apple IIgs in 3rd grade. It was so rad. And I might try a Debian netinst. I really like the apt package management, and how it handles dependencies with ease.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:24 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:and now with Windows 8 seeming to head more towards a locked-down kiosk,


Don't believe the hype.

Link

Peter Bright wrote:x86 Windows 8 systems must allow users to add and remove certificates from the firmware's certificate store. For example, a Linux vendor could provide a signed operating system loader and corresponding certificate: all x86 Windows 8 systems must permit users to install such certificates. Microsoft calls this "custom mode", in contrast to "standard mode", that includes only the Microsoft certificate.

x86 Windows 8 systems must also allow secure boot to be turned off completely, so that no certificate verification is performed at all.

UEFI allows the ability to drop back to mimicking BIOS, to allow UEFI systems to start pre-UEFI operating systems. This is done through a combination of running the "option ROMs" embedded into many components, and Compatibility Support Modules (CSMs) to hand over control to a legacy operating system.

Windows 8 machines using x86 processors can offer this kind of backwards compatibility, but they must not invoke it without explicit user action; in other words, this "BIOS mode" must be explicitly enabled. Further, if secure boot is enabled, the system must not enter BIOS mode at all. Systems with 32-bit Windows can even ship in BIOS mode by default, though they must still be capable of UEFI mode.


If you want a Windows 8 Logo sticker - and all the OEM's do - then you must grant the ability to allow the PC to boot whatever you please.

As usual the situation with Secure Boot was the usual response Linux users have to change, which is to freak out and claim that it would end all life as we know it.

Edit:

It strikes me you may not have meant that the PC shipping with 8 would be locked into an OS like a kiosk. That instead you might be bagging on Metro.

In which case we end up in a somewhat cyclical situation. This time just with Windows users presuming the end is nigh.

As an aside, there wasn't anything fun about the old days.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:54 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:As an aside, there wasn't anything fun about the old days.


I agree.

    * Paper tape...
    * Filling out report forms even before you could code your program...
    * Writing your source code on paper and giving it to a data entry person...

Okay, I didn't have to deal with those things. But these I did:

    * Card decks? Ew, yuck.
    * Magnetic tape backups? Um, yeah. Yes, they did break often!
    * Paper installation manuals. We hung them in a rack. You could never open them up and lay them flat on your desk.
    * 1960's telephones. If you were lucky, you had one ACTUALLY at your desk! If you were very lucky, it had "flash" ability, whatever that meant..
    * Green screen or orange screen terminals that were big all metal boxes with heavy keyboards. The important people had color monitors!
    * Disk drives that were the size of a refrigerator and only held a gig or so? Okay, those were kind of impressive in their day...
    * Having to drive 1.5 hours at 2 am just to get to work to fix a production batch problem...
    * If you had to call tech support, you had to use the telephone. Or borrow the phone at your co-worker's desk.
    * If you WERE tech support, you had to answer the telephone when it rang. Every time. It could be your boss.
    * If you were tech support "in the old days," everybody in the company qualified as your boss.
    * If you were tech support, you had to train everybody how to use "flash" on their phone. No, you didn't have a phone with "flash"...
    * All of your important work was to take place at 2 am...
    * You still had to work a full day, even though you have been working since 2 am.
    * You still had to work a full day, even though you were planning to come back at 2 am. On a Saturday.


You're right. Nothing fun about the old days.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:01 am

BIF wrote:You're right. Nothing fun about the old days.

Add to that being the son of the business owner in question who has just installed their first mainframe computer and doing it all for no pay.

OTOH, the PICK OS had some technical sweetness that I've never seen again in CLI mainframe OSes. And yes I despise 3M BlackWatch reel-to-reel, and the alarm clock that rang at 2AM every night so I could drive down to the office and swap tapes so the backup could complete.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:04 am

The 'good old days' from an enthusiast viewpoint, not a work viewpoint, weren't that good either. Now I can actually use my computer time to run programs instead of messing with the hardware quite so much. I appreciate that now that my time matters more than when I was a kid. The only *really great* thing I can remember from my early enthusiast days was the thrill and value from getting a 50% overclock on a (relatively) inexpensive CPU that made it at least as fast as the top of the line CPUs. That's still true in a way and doable, but for the same price s those 'inexpensive' CPUs you can get a ones that are pretty damn fast at stock now.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:02 am

The thing I probably miss the most about the "old days" (which for me was the late 1970s) is that back then, a person could understand pretty much every aspect of a PC, inside and out. The systems (software *and* hardware) were simple enough that a single person could actually *know* pretty much all there was to know about writing PC software, and how the system worked down to the chip level.

Today things are so complex you probably can't grasp even 0.001% of what's going on.

@BIF -
    * Magnetic tape is still in wide use today. Densitites have more or less kept pace with disk drives, and it is even reliable now!
    * The refrigerator sized disk drives I remember didn't even store a gig... they stored only 10 MB!
And it actually *was* kind of fun to figure out the exact rate of disk seeks that would get the disk drive rocking back and forth violently enough to cause it to creep across the floor of the computer room! :lol:
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:04 am

just brew it! wrote:* The refrigerator sized disk drives I remember didn't even store a gig... they stored only 10 MB!


I saw one (maybe two?) of those down in a Minuteman control silo at Whiteman AFB in the summer of '96, after it'd been converted into a museum.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:53 am

bthylafh wrote:
just brew it! wrote:* The refrigerator sized disk drives I remember didn't even store a gig... they stored only 10 MB!

I saw one (maybe two?) of those down in a Minuteman control silo at Whiteman AFB in the summer of '96, after it'd been converted into a museum.

Was it one of these? That's the model I used back in the day! 5 MB on an internal platter, and 5 MB on a platter housed in a removable plastic cartridge. (To get a sense of scale, the platters were 14 inches in diameter.)

Obviously these drives weren't sealed (due to the removable platter); to keep dust out there was a large blower in the base with an air filter that pressurized the inside of the drive with clean air. There was also a set of little brushes on an arm attached to a motor; every time the drive was powered up, this mechanism literally swung into action and swept the surface of the platters clean to prevent head crashes!

The emergency head unload system was pretty impressive too. There was a monster capacitor that stored enough energy to operate the (quite massive, IIRC it weighed a half pound or so) head assembly for a fraction of a second. In the event of a power failure, the drive discharged this capacitor through the head actuator's voice coil, yanking the heads back to their parked position before the platters had a chance to slow down and cause a head crash. The drive would visibly lurch backwards a bit (accompanied by a quite audible THUMP) from the force of the head assembly hitting the stop!
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:05 am

moresmarterthanspock wrote:With all of the talk about standards, compatibility, ease of use, and now with Windows 8 seeming to head more towards a locked-down kiosk, I'm really missing the old days of computing. There was no standard. You had different brands. Tandy, Timex, Commodore, Atari, Apple, IBM, and some other obscure computer companies. I know it was more difficult with the different choices, but that is what made computing more fun IMO. That and before plug-and-play. You had to manually set the jumpers inside your computer for different I/O address, IRQ, and DMA. It wasn't as easy as configuring and using a computer in today's world, but there was a sense of satisfaction in the challenge and sucessfully making something work right. That and it was yours, and it was unique. You had a different monster than your neighbor. Kind of like the Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo vs. anything else. They each had their own unique graphics and style of sound. To me, it was a more beautiful world having the variety, and then needing the knowledge to make it work right.



I wholeheartedly agree!! Not only have computers become commodity devices that are cheaper to replace than repair in most cases, COMPUTING itself has become a commodity. It began with the internet, included laptops and cheap computers, and now has snatched up smartphones. Anybody willing to give up their cell phone or laptop for a week???
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:09 am

just brew it! wrote:
bthylafh wrote:
just brew it! wrote:* The refrigerator sized disk drives I remember didn't even store a gig... they stored only 10 MB!

I saw one (maybe two?) of those down in a Minuteman control silo at Whiteman AFB in the summer of '96, after it'd been converted into a museum.

Was it one of these? That's the model I used back in the day! 5 MB on an internal platter, and 5 MB on a platter housed in a removable plastic cartridge. (To get a sense of scale, the platters were 14 inches in diameter.)


Don't think so. I don't remember what kind they were, but vaguely recall that the guide said they were made by IBM.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:17 am

I first had a computer in 1993. It was a 486, and I became as apt as any five year old could with DOS and learned how to read and write partly by figuring out what worked in Quest for Glory

In a lot of ways I wish I was maybe 10-15 years older - I think I would have truly enjoyed 80s computing, the BBS era, and all that fun jazz. My only exposure has been reading the Jargon File and playing games like Digital: A Love Story

I've been meaning to play around with more 'alternative' OSes - Things like NeXTSTEP and BeOS really interest me and I keep saying I'm going to set up something to run Haiku. Not to mention older keyboard conventions - heck even my Control Key is where Caps Lock is these days.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:44 am

moresmarterthanspock wrote:With all of the talk about standards, compatibility, ease of use, and now with Windows 8 seeming to head more towards a locked-down kiosk, I'm really missing the old days of computing. There was no standard. You had different brands. Tandy, Timex, Commodore, Atari, Apple, IBM, and some other obscure computer companies. I know it was more difficult with the different choices, but that is what made computing more fun IMO. That and before plug-and-play. You had to manually set the jumpers inside your computer for different I/O address, IRQ, and DMA. It wasn't as easy as configuring and using a computer in today's world, but there was a sense of satisfaction in the challenge and sucessfully making something work right. That and it was yours, and it was unique. You had a different monster than your neighbor. Kind of like the Sega Genesis vs. Super Nintendo vs. anything else. They each had their own unique graphics and style of sound. To me, it was a more beautiful world having the variety, and then needing the knowledge to make it work right.


The way I see it, most of that experience still exists. But if you're expecting the productive world to standardize on non-standard computing devices and environments - see the innate conflict there?

You can still have a different computer than your neighbor if you want, but none of your neighbors are going to be interested unless you live on a street full of computer scientists and computer historians.

The bottom line is that people generally want to be productive, and standards are essential for productivity. Think about going to the hardware store and having your own hardware custom made - your own individual specification for the diameter and thread of your nuts and bolts, your own spec for lumber, electrical wiring, and so on. Imagine how insane that would be from a productivity and efficiency standpoint and from a safety standpoint. That same logic applies to computers as they apply to the mainstream world.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:14 am

I only got into computers in the mid 90's. Maybe I'm missing out on the old old nostgalia factor, but as a mild enthusiast, I don't miss:
- floppy drives
- IDE cables
- sharp metal case edges
- ugly cases
- jumpers on IDE drives
- Win 95/98 crashing
- re-formatting every 4 months
- hunting down drivers for obscure accesories (thank you plug-n-play)
- LOUD fans
- trying to figure out what soundcard/video card your friend has in their computer so you can find the drivers
- IDE drives with no jumper diagram
- making sure all the cables were seated properly.

You can keep those "old days of computing". I rather enjoy today's hardware scene/Windows 7. Everything just plugs in so nice and neat, everything just works and I don't lose any blood assembling a computer.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:11 am

Sargent Duck wrote:I only got into computers in the mid 90's. Maybe I'm missing out on the old old nostgalia factor, but as a mild enthusiast, I don't miss:
- floppy drives
- IDE cables
- sharp metal case edges
- ugly cases
- jumpers on IDE drives
- Win 95/98 crashing
- re-formatting every 4 months
- hunting down drivers for obscure accesories (thank you plug-n-play)
- LOUD fans
- trying to figure out what soundcard/video card your friend has in their computer so you can find the drivers
- IDE drives with no jumper diagram
- making sure all the cables were seated properly.

You can keep those "old days of computing". I rather enjoy today's hardware scene/Windows 7. Everything just plugs in so nice and neat, everything just works and I don't lose any blood assembling a computer.

YES.

I also don't miss:
-the earlier heatsink retention mechanisms
-vendors afraid to sell AMD gear
-the days before 802.11 G
-the days before VMware / Virtual Box
-the days before NAS devices
-the days before gigabit ethernet
-CRT 70 pound monitors that take up 4 square feet each

And I love the "new":
-wireless mice
-display port
-PCI-e
-SSD
-120mm heatpipe heatsinks with quiet fans and all the other quite-computing innovations
-quad core processors
-BIOS reset switches
-EFI BIOS (still waiting for that to fully come into its own)
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:12 am

That reminds me - what ever happened to SCSI?
I had the impression that they were SUPER FAST drives that'd evnetually be user accessable once prices dropped a bit - I assume the super high RPM drives were succeeded by SSDs, but how does the actual interface shake up vs SATA? And why could SCSI drives hit 15k RPM, which never seemed to hit the consumer market?
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:18 am

CP/M was the operating system of the real power users :)
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:22 am

pikaporeon wrote:That reminds me - what ever happened to SCSI?
I had the impression that they were SUPER FAST drives that'd evnetually be user accessable once prices dropped a bit - I assume the super high RPM drives were succeeded by SSDs, but how does the actual interface shake up vs SATA? And why could SCSI drives hit 15k RPM, which never seemed to hit the consumer market?

SCSI is still around; the physical interface has converged with SATA (electrically compatible with the same physical connectors), and is now called SAS, for Serial Attached SCSI -- nested acronym FTW! :D

You can actually plug SATA drives into a SAS controller and they'll work just fine, but not the other way around.

15K RPM SCSI drives never caught on in consumer systems because of cost, noise, and heat. Closest we got were the 10K RPM Raptors.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:26 am

mortuk wrote:CP/M was the operating system of the real power users :)

Yeah, an OS that often requires you to hack together your own device drivers will tend to weed out most of the casual users... funny how that works! :lol:
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:33 am

pikaporeon wrote:That reminds me - what ever happened to SCSI?
I had the impression that they were SUPER FAST drives that'd evnetually be user accessable once prices dropped a bit - I assume the super high RPM drives were succeeded by SSDs, but how does the actual interface shake up vs SATA? And why could SCSI drives hit 15k RPM, which never seemed to hit the consumer market?


JBI covered it, but some minor repetition plus a few extra details.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_attached_SCSI

SCSI became SAS.

15K RPM drives still exist, but are unlikely to ever become mainstream. The engineering for a drive to operate at 15K RPM is non-trivial. The parts for it are also more expensive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... 5000%20RPM

~500 USD for 450GB of space at 15K RPM.

~1.11 USD per GB

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820148443

~350 USD for a 256 GB 6Gbps SSD.

~1.36 USD per GB

Serious debates start happening at these price point in the mainstream.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:55 am

Frankly, I don't miss the old days. Small monochrome monitors. Text with no graphics. Tape drives, floppy disks, maybe a small amount of space allocated on a hard drive. Hardware configured with jumpers. Printed copies of software.

Thanks but I like the plug-and-play hardware, graphical UIs, and effectively unlimited storage space, even if the hardware and software are a lot more complicated.

I guess if I had to find something good about the "old days" it would be the simplicity.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:23 pm

just brew it! wrote:
15K RPM SCSI drives never caught on in consumer systems because of cost, noise, and heat. Closest we got were the 10K RPM Raptors.

Yeah, the velociraptor is why I actually bring it up, as I've owned one for some time now and have enjoyed the gains, though obviously the gains aren't quite in SSD territory.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:44 pm

pikaporeon wrote:I had the impression that they were SUPER FAST drives that'd evnetually be user accessable once prices dropped a bit - I assume the super high RPM drives were succeeded by SSDs, but how does the actual interface shake up vs SATA? And why could SCSI drives hit 15k RPM, which never seemed to hit the consumer market


JBI and Ryu covered it, but I'd like to specifically say that it wasn't SCSI that made those drives fast. SCSI is just an interface. Perhaps a better one, but it wasn't the source of the speed.

It's just that if you're going to make a 15k drive targeted to enterprise users you're not going to slap some ramshackle interface like IDE on it. The disparity lessened over time, as JBI notes, but SCSI had plenty of industrial-strength variants and advantages whereas IDE/PATA just didn't.

As JBI/Ryu have discussed, 15K drives are hot, noisy and expensive. The other issue is that they're not going to be as big either. Those 10K raptors don't have full-size platters in them, it's too difficult to maintain rigidity for a ~3.5 inch diameter at those speeds. The platters in a 15k drive are smaller still. Remember how the raptors were always smaller? That's even more true for 15K disks, and it's a problem in the consumer space. When it comes to the mass market the only metric that matters is size, anything else is niche.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:37 pm

Glorious wrote:JBI and Ryu covered it, but I'd like to specifically say that it wasn't SCSI that made those drives fast. SCSI is just an interface. Perhaps a better one, but it wasn't the source of the speed.

Not entirely true. Until NCQ became a part of the SATA spec, SCSI protocol had an inherent advantage in that it allowed the drive to service requests out-of-order to minimize seeking, whereas PATA/SATA did not. (I'm ignoring the older PATA/SATA TCQ feature since it was never widely adopted... IIRC only IBM/Hitachi and the WD Raptors implemented it.)
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:55 pm

I think what really people like about the old days of computing, myself included, is that you could see actual progress from year to year. You go from GEOS or whatever on the Atari or PC to seeing MacOS? Whoa! Back when WYSIWYG was a selling point because, well, pretty much only Macs did it. Sound cards? Mono 8-bit AM synthesis to 16-bit stereo FM synthesis, later wavetable synthesis? FANTASTIC! They also let you play back digital recordings! How hardcore was that? The CPUs and IO couldn't handle it at the time so sound cards had their own DPS's mixing that junk. 14-ish channels on a Gravis UltraSound? 30 on an AWE32? Coooooool!

How about video cards? Video standards? CGA to EGA to VGA to SVGA to XGA to... omg so many acronyms! And hey, what's that? A flat-panel screen from SGI? Whooooaaaaa cool! Watching the price come down on regular CRTs, too, caring about dot pitch and 17" monitors that were really 16.2", then 19", then 21", heavy but IMPRESSIVE. Imagine128 and Matrox battling it out at the high end with this concept that they actually accelerated drawing windows in, well, Windows! Look! You can drag the window and its contents and it's not an outline, it's the whole thing, and it's smooth! Big long articles in PC Magazine about this "true type" thing and something called "anti-aliasing" that you could do on fonts to make them smooooth. Thumbing your way through Computer Shopper back when it was 700 pages a month of advertisements and articles, reading Hard Edge with Alice and Bill, reading the reviews, seeing the dual-486 systems and thinking it's AWESOME even if you can't think of anything that would use the extra CPU! Doom, maybe? Would that go faster? Golly, maybe MS-DOS would boot quicker! Who knows, it's all so new! Hey, I wonder if adding a 287 to my 286 will make Wing Commander II any quicker? What? What do you mean no? But it's floating point! Floating point means speeeeeed!

Hard drives? 20 MB drives giving way to 120 MB to 250 MB, etc. I remember seeing Micropolis hard drives for sale. They were totally elite. I mean, this was an outfit that made ONLY 1 GB and larger. Whoaaaa mind blown! This new thing called USB that sucked and didn't work with my P233MMX or Windows 95 very well. Then watching it actually, you know, be useful.

How about Amigas? Ataris? C64's? Macs? Every month was like The Future showing us a glimpse of our computer versions of flying cars. You can even go back to old S100-based systems where you had to assemble everything yourself unless you wanted the only interface to be a few switches on the front of a metal box. Going from that to an Apple II? Fantastic!

Operating systems? Back when you could debate the merits of one versus the other, when people could try radically different stuff from one version to the next? When you could see good ideas slowly float to the top and the crappy bits get dropped? Good times.

I think nowadays the market has settled down so much that you don't see many risks taken. You don't see much "new", it all feels like an evolution of what's already out there. It's not exciting. That's why people find Apple fascinating. Love them or hate them, they package stuff with excitement and for many people it's "new" and "different." Maybe call it being jaded, I guess, but the new stuff just doesn't seem interesting. Yeah, even memristors or carbon nanotransistors or holographic memory. Part of that, too, may be just getting old. Still, though, I think concrete progress seems to have slowed or stopped. CPUs have been "good enough" for years. I remember when Origin released Strike Commander and it required a minimum Pentium 60. A PENTIUM! Pushing the boundaries at the time. Like when Doom required a 386 and VGA.

What's the last thing to do that? Crysis? From what I read after the initial shock wore off, it needed high-end kit in part because it was poorly coded, like a console port that someone phoned in. Speaking of consoles, for a while they were getting interested. The techie/hobbiest would see something like the PS2 with the ability to run Linux and add a HDD and ethernet jack and say, "hey, cool!" Or the DreamCast, it even ran WinCE, you could plug a keyboard and mouse into it! Now after the current generation it seems that the excitement has died. I mean, cool, tri-core PPC in the XBox360. Cell in the PS3. It was neat stuff several years ago but now I'm not even looking forward to what's next. Maybe it's the DRM or locking of the system to keep people form messing around on 'em. I dunno.

My thoughts, at least.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:13 pm

JBI wrote:Not entirely true. Until NCQ became a part of the SATA spec, SCSI protocol had an inherent advantage in that it allowed the drive to service requests out-of-order to minimize seeking, whereas PATA/SATA did not. (I'm ignoring the older PATA/SATA TCQ feature since it was never widely adopted... IIRC only IBM/Hitachi and the WD Raptors implemented it.)


Well yeah, I was certainly leaving out some troublesome details. I mean, having two devices on a single ATA channel had significant performance implications, a problem SCSI didn't share (and you could have more than 2 devices too).

But, in general, this wasn't an issue in the consumer space. Indeed, TCQ in particular probably wasn't a good idea for much of the consumer market, especially in the early days. The workload wouldn't really benefit from it, the complexity/expense of the electronics would be greater, and in a non-DMA environment it would very likely hurt performance.

What I was trying to convey is that beneath the interface the drives really aren't any different. SCSI certainly had many advantages, but they generally weren't all that applicable for the consumer market. The vast majority of the speed difference existed because the drives were 10K or 15K. Beyond that, not really, particularly since enterprise drives like those typically weren't on the bleeding edge of areal/platter density either.
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Re: Old days of computing

Postposted on Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:19 pm

My first experiences of direct use of an IBM 360 and later an IBM 4300 were fall of 1974. I remember the keypunch kerchunking with each keystroke, watching my deck being fed into the reader. We used to use the punched waste as confetti for football games. I miss having reasonably priced FORTRAN compilers for the PC. I have my own library of FORTRAN code that I wrote and used interactively while in grad school. I was the first person at UTEP to convince the Graduate school to let me use the line printer to print my MS thesis. They had to admit that our high quality line printer was good enough compared to typed copy after I had xeroxed it onto bond paper.

I remember how superior OS/2 was in multitasking the instruments in our lab and watching in despair as review after review showed that windows 3.1 was faster (a single application at at time). Those stupid reviewers never tried seeing how the two OS's compared with programs running in the background. I could acquire 60 points/sec from four GC instruments and still reprocess data, or format a floppy disk, in the foreground. Win 3.11 could, almost, acquire the data, but would crash if you tried to do anything else.
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