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Re: 30 years of mass-produced home computers...

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  • Herb Johnson
    ... *liked* the ... Brian or other readers may not know that the stringy floppy is a small tape cassette technology, not a floppy diskette technology. It was
    Message 1 of 10 , Nov 2, 2007
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      "B. Degnan" <billdeg@...> wrote:
      >
      > At 09:59 AM 11/2/2007 -0400, you wrote:
      > >B. Degnan wrote:
      > > >> P.S. Hey Bill D. - The person who wrote the article actually
      *liked* the
      > > >> TRS-80 Model 1! ;)
      > > >>
      > > > I would *like* to throw my TRS 80 stringy floppy into the river.
      > > >
      > >Then it would skip across the water, thereby putting its read/write
      > >heads further out of alignment, before finally careening into a rock
      > >jutting out of the river which ends its long and productive life..
      > >
      > >:-)
      >
      >
      > long and productive life? ha.

      Brian or other readers may not know that the "stringy floppy" is a
      small tape cassette technology, not a floppy diskette technology. It
      was built by one company only, to my knowledge, and simply did not
      catch on. So Bill's point is reasonable. In a bit of irony, I read
      this after I posted here on the long and productive life of "compact"
      Macs.

      As to the thread subject's Web site, the article mentioned starts like
      this:

      "It has been thirty years since the first wave of mass-produced home
      computers ignited a revolution. 1977 saw the introduction of the
      so-called "Big Three": The Apple ][, Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I
      and the Commodore PET 2000. These machines dominated the North
      American market for several years."

      Actually, it's a surprisingly reasonable and specific claim. Most of
      these "decades of personal computing" articles suggest that one event
      or one company - usually Microsoft or IBM - started it all. This one
      makes specific claims and so its claims can be tested and argued. And,
      it does NOT suggest that there was no computing BEFORE these machines.

      I don't follow these systems in my work, but I knew about them at the
      time. Does anyone want to argue about this "big three in 1977" claim?
      Were there other systems, mass produced about that time, which led to
      a whole product line as these machines and companies did? Of course
      "thirty years" is a nice reference point and so is a little arbitrary
      in that way. WOuld 1976, or 1978 be more "accurate", and why?

      Herb Johnson

      Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey USA
      http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/ web site
      http://www.retrotechnology.net/herbs_stuff/ domain mirror
      my email address: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
      if no reply, try in a few days: herbjohnson ATT comcast DOTT net
      "Herb's Stuff": old Mac, SGI, 8-inch floppy drives
      S-100 IMSAI Altair computers, docs, by "Dr. S-100"
    • Evan
      Important to clarify: that is NOT an article , it s just a blog post. James happens to be a pretty good blogger. However, in that post he made a GLARING
      Message 2 of 10 , Nov 2, 2007
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        Important to clarify: that is NOT an "article", it's just a blog post. James happens to be a pretty good blogger.

        However, in that post he made a GLARING mistake. He says VisiCalc is the "the world's first spreadsheet program"... that's not even close to true.
      • B. Degnan
        ... My VCF exhibit covered the concept of the appliance computer and the stringy floppy, but that was not the original plan. I had spoken with Lichen Wang
        Message 3 of 10 , Nov 2, 2007
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          >
          > > > >>
          > > > > I would *like* to throw my TRS 80 stringy floppy into the river.
          > > > >
          > > >Then it would skip across the water, thereby putting its read/write
          > > >heads further out of alignment, before finally careening into a rock
          > > >jutting out of the river which ends its long and productive life..
          > > >
          > > >:-)
          > >
          > >
          > > long and productive life? ha.

          >Brian or other readers may not know that the "stringy floppy" is a
          >small tape cassette technology, not a floppy diskette technology. It
          >was built by one company only, to my knowledge, and simply did not
          >catch on. So Bill's point is reasonable. In a bit of irony, I read
          >this after I posted here on the long and productive life of "compact"
          >Macs.

          My VCF exhibit covered the concept of the "appliance computer" and the
          stringy floppy, but that was not the original plan. I had spoken with
          Lichen Wang who wrote the ROM for the drive, and I also spoke with the
          inventor (his name escapes me at the moment) of the stringy floppy at
          Exatron (a company that's still in business). I was all set, except that
          the drives did not work!

          Anyway, I was really only half serious about not liking either the TRS 80
          or the stringy floppy...I was referring mostly to my frustration that my
          original plan for the VCF, to exhibit the stringy floppy primarily, was
          squelshed due to technical problems. As a result I had to resort to the
          more boring/common TRS 80 Model 1 for my exhibit. In hindsight I should
          have just done the Altair 680b.


          >As to the thread subject's Web site, the article mentioned starts like
          >this:
          >
          >"It has been thirty years since the first wave of mass-produced home
          >computers ignited a revolution. 1977 saw the introduction of the
          >so-called "Big Three": The Apple ][, Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I
          >and the Commodore PET 2000. These machines dominated the North
          >American market for several years."

          From the original text of the article "PET 2000"...?? Are there any fact
          checkers for these people? I noticed that there were a few errors and
          semi-errors in this article.


          >Actually, it's a surprisingly reasonable and specific claim. Most of
          >these "decades of personal computing" articles suggest that one event
          >or one company - usually Microsoft or IBM - started it all. This one
          >makes specific claims and so its claims can be tested and argued. And,
          >it does NOT suggest that there was no computing BEFORE these machines.

          Personally, of the first "appliance computers" I favor the PET 2001-8 and
          the Apple II to the TRS 80 Model 1, but all three have their claim to fame
          for just this one thing - all-in-one, out-of-the-box computers.

          Next week in class the topic will be early 1982. details: the "IBM PC vs.
          the XOR S-4", "MS DOS vs. CP/M", "SA vs. S-100", and " 8" disks vs. 5
          1/4" " ...with live demos.


          >I don't follow these systems in my work, but I knew about them at the
          >time. Does anyone want to argue about this "big three in 1977" claim?
          >
          >Were there other systems, mass produced about that time, which led to
          >a whole product line as these machines and companies did? Of course
          >"thirty years" is a nice reference point and so is a little arbitrary
          >in that way. WOuld 1976, or 1978 be more "accurate", and why?

          I have written a lot about the subject of the "appliance computer" on my
          web site for the past 6 months. What other computers in 1977 or before had
          a computer with a built-in operating system out of the box other than these
          three? All three could interact with cassette mass storage without any
          additional configuration. The Sol-20 and Icom's ATTACHE computers, ALMOST
          all-in-ones at the time, cannot claim this feature out of the box without
          additional software or cards.


          50, 30, 25, 20 years? - just convenient non-tech numbers.
          If you want to be a purist...2 to the 5th years - 32 - is more binary,
          yes? How about we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the something? The
          16th is too soon.

          The above are just opinions, I hope I did not offend anyone, just blabbing...

          Bill
        • B. Degnan
          correction
          Message 4 of 10 , Nov 2, 2007
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            correction



            Next week in class the topic will be early 1982.  details: the "IBM PC vs.
            the XOR S-4", "MS DOS vs. CP/M", "ISA vs. S-100", and "  8" disks vs. 5
            1/4"  " ...with live demos.
          • Bob Applegate
            ... I would argue that having a built in operating system (it s debatable) wasn t key, but maybe these basic features: * Keyboard * Video display * Enough
            Message 5 of 10 , Nov 2, 2007
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              B. Degnan <billdeg@...> wrote :


              > I have written a lot about the subject of the "appliance computer" on my
              > web site for the past 6 months. What other computers in 1977 or before had
              > a computer with a built-in operating system out of the box other than these
              > three? All three could interact with cassette mass storage without any
              > additional configuration. The Sol-20 and Icom's ATTACHE computers, ALMOST
              > all-in-ones at the time, cannot claim this feature out of the box without
              > additional software or cards.

              I would argue that having a built in "operating system" (it's debatable) wasn't
              key, but maybe these basic features:

              * Keyboard
              * Video display
              * Enough RAM to be useful
              * Enough software in ROM to be useful
              * Some sort of mass storage, even if cassette tape

              With those elements, someone could buy "a computer" that would allow them to
              immediately start playing with it, maybe write a simple program, get some
              software, etc, without the need to immediately expand it.

              Bob


              ___________________________________
              NOCC, http://nocc.sourceforge.net
            • Dan Roganti
              Bill, Is this course material online at the Univ ? =Dan [ I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them ] [ Pittsburgh ---
              Message 6 of 10 , Nov 3, 2007
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                Bill,

                Is this course material online at the Univ ?

                =Dan
                [ "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them"     ]
                [ Pittsburgh --- http://www2.applegate.org/~ragooman/    ]
                
                


                B. Degnan wrote:
                
                Next week in class the topic will be early 1982.  details: the "IBM PC vs. 
                the XOR S-4", "MS DOS vs. CP/M", "SA vs. S-100", and "  8" disks vs. 5 
                1/4"  " ...with live demos.
                
                
                  
                  
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