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RE: [midatlanticretro] Re: Video of TCF, very brief MARCH clip

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  • Ian King
    I think we are in a transitional era, and your comparison with automotive technology is becoming more apt by the day. We are moving into the post-computer
    Message 1 of 44 , May 8, 2008
      I think we are in a transitional era, and your comparison with automotive technology is becoming more apt by the day.  We are moving into the post-computer era, where people are using an appliance, not an artifact of a particular class - where functionality, not identity, is definitional.  In other words: today's driver wants a fast car, and isn't asking about cam angles or throttle bodies.  Likewise, computer products aren't computers any more, they're products to serve given needs (communication, word processing, gaming, multimedia).  The computer disappears, the need is met. 
      Having said that: just as with any other form of technology, there is a need for history.  I have several books on the history of motorcycles (that being my primary vehicle).  But you're right, it's not a mandatory subject like arithmetic.  On the other hand, learning the history adds depth to one's understanding - there is clearly value to understanding that before event-driven GUIs we had command lines and menus, and before that we had batch and punched cards.  It adds perspective.  That's what higher education in a given topic should provide: additional depth of understanding, which almost inevitably includes a historical aspect.  Undergrad?  Maybe.  Graduate degrees?  Without a doubt, anyone claiming 'mastery' should know the history. 
      As computer engineering (which these days is nearly synonymous with 'software engineering') matures as a field and we see more degrees in that, rather than computer science, I think you'll see at least a survey of computing history as a mandatory course in the program.  As Sridhar points out in another response I just saw, computer science is more abstract, and is sometimes difficult to relate to actual computing artifacts, i.e. particular hardware and programming languages. 
      And yes, there are those who can talk rings around me about motorcycle history. I just listen, and learn....  That's the most unfortunate part of the scenario you relate: that the "REAL old-timers" were less than gracious about sharing their knowledge, and instead "scoffed" at your perspective.  I work with people who weren't born yet when some of my computers were introduced (a 26-year-old was fascinated by the PDP-8/I in my office).  It's fun introducing them to a world where mice were small, furry pests, windows had to remain closed to keep dust out of the cartridge disk drives and (as someone found amusing just yesterday) computers were judged not only by performance but also by weight and cubic footage.  :-)  Cheers -- Ian

      From: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com [mailto:midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Bob Applegate
      Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 8:22 AM
      To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: Video of TCF, very brief MARCH clip

      Why do we expect computer history to be taught? When you took Driver's Ed,
      you weren't taught the history of the automobile, right? Are you shocked
      when your kids in Kindergarten aren't taught the history of the English
      language when they're learning to read? How about all the languages it was
      built on?

      Incorrect terminology might be an issue, but let's not confuse OUR passion
      for history as stuff that everyone needs to know. Remember that things are
      relative; some REAL old-timers scoffed when I told them my KIM-1 was a
      computer in the 70s. "That's not a computer, it's just a big calculator.
      Real computers have...". They were also annoyed that I had no knowledge
      of computer history at that time.

      If the tech support person knows that CP/M ran on 8080 and then Z80 processors,
      does that help them solve a problem where the cable is simply unplugged?

      Does it help their job if they know MOS Technology designed the KIM-1, not

      I have most of the 6502 instruction set (hex values!!!) memorized ("Get them
      out!!! PLEASE!!!"). .. does that make it easier for me to understand why
      my microwave oven needs the date entered after a power failure?

      Let's not get too judgemental about this, and keep things in perspective.


      Madodel <madodel@ptdprolog. net> wrote :

      > Herb Johnson wrote:
      > &gt; I could not watch the entire
      clip, but essentially someone of high
      > &gt; school/college age and
      his father saw the TCF as overpriced and full
      > &gt; of junk. The
      youngster spent more time comparing old Macs (G3 G4
      > &gt; vintage)
      than deciding whether an Apple II was a &quot;c&quot; or an &quot;e&quot; . He had
      > &gt; no clue as to what a pile of
      oscilloscopes were. I think the youngster
      > &gt; was attracted to
      bright shiny objects and screens with things in
      > &gt; motion - about
      the same level of attention as a bird. Dad said the
      > &gt; show was
      too small and cost too much - and he was going to complain
      > &gt;
      about it.
      > &gt;
      > &gt; Sometimes I post here, about the
      value of exhibits with
      > &gt; interpretation, with explanations of
      what some computer did, how they
      > &gt; did it. I have a Web site full
      of computer history, people in time who
      > &gt; designed and built and
      innovated, decades ago.
      > &gt;
      > &gt; Then I see a video
      like this one, which reminds me that so much of the
      > &gt; public is
      just like this kid. Totally, absolutely, clueless. Except,
      > &gt;
      about what to buy and how to run it from the keyboard and mouse and to
      &gt; watch the screen. Maybe this kid can program something, hack a
      &gt; computer case - who knows, who cares? And Dad, he just wants a deal on
      > &gt; something new, to find a Wal-Mart in a parking lot.
      > &gt; Today, I throw up my hands.
      > Do you know what kids are taught about computers in
      school now-a-days? At
      > my children's school its Windows, Word, Excel,
      Powerpoint. There is no
      > history of computing. And this has been going
      on for years so this is
      > passing on into our colleges. Do college
      computer science majors let alone
      > other majors, learn anything other
      then microsoft these days? How many
      > kids have actually seen the inside
      of a PC let alone an older vintage
      > machine? In primary and secondary
      schools they don't show them anything
      > about real hardware, just a few
      bare minimum terms &quot;mouse, keyboard, CPU,
      > etc&quot;. And
      even with that they teach incorrect terminology (How can I
      > explain that
      what they called the CPU is really just a case, and that the
      > CPU is a
      microprocessor mounted on a board with lots of other devices
      > without my
      kid ending up getting an F? My daughter actually ended up
      > getting her
      school's 8th grade computer award last year because she
      > actually knew
      more then the teacher. And she's a singer not a geek.)
      > The
      overwhelming majority of students appear to know nothing of what came
      before the PC and even with that they seem to believe that nothing existed
      > beyond windows and that Gates invented the whole thing. Its all a magic
      > box. Have you ever spoken to a technical support person today? If they
      > can't follow a canned menu of clicks they are lost. What would be
      > cool would be if someone organized some sort of presentation for
      schools to
      > teach the truth about the history of computers. Maybe a
      future MARCH project.
      > Mark
      > --
      > >From the eComStation Desktop of: Mark Dodel
      Warpstock 2008 - Santa Cruz, California:

      ____________ _________ _________ _____
      NOCC, http://nocc. sourceforge. net

    • schwepes@moog.netaxs.com
      I believe that Heath Kit had already indroduced a home computer kit by then. The games were also supposed to help drill one s children in such topics as
      Message 44 of 44 , May 13, 2008
        I believe that Heath Kit had already indroduced a home computer kit by
        then. The games were also supposed to help drill one's children in such
        topics as spelling and math, at least according to the advertising that
        came with the Sinclair I got my daughter.

        On Tue, 13 May 2008, Dan Roganti wrote:

        > Sridhar Ayengar wrote:
        > Mike Loewen wrote:
        > "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home."
        > Ken Olson, President, Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
        > Weren't there already a significant number of people who had computers
        > in their home by then?
        > My father had one of Ken Olson's company's computer in our home by then.
        > Peace... Sridhar
        > I found some interesting webpages with Quotations from people in the
        > Computer field (hardware, software,etc)
        > There's some funny ones on there that would look good on a plaque.
        > Quotes about Programmers
        > Quotes from the Past
        > Computers Quotes
        > =Dan
        > --
        > [ Pittsburgh --- http://www2.applegate.org/~ragooman/ ]
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