[vcf-midatlantic] OT: people don't understand computers anymore

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Tue Jun 7 15:16:34 EDT 2016

On 6/7/2016 2:19 PM, Ethan wrote:
>> Oh - Ted Nelson, at a VCF-E dinner, said to me he tried to teach a
>> computer course at a community college. He said "I gave up in three
>> weeks, because the students didn't know (bleep) about computers".
> There are a few smart people that end up pioneers in industries and
> such. Many are probably just lucky at being at the right place at the
> right time. We remember them because of their contributions, we forget
> the others. When we think back to old times we're selective and picking
> all the pioneers and such.
> People have varying degrees of interest in subjects. Some really dig
> into computers, some dig into cars, there are many other fields. There
> is a lot more going on now than the past. These old systems are pretty
> low hanging fruit compared to today I'd wager.
> I see friends working on FPGA projects, writing HPC compilers, and doing
> all sorts of other crazy stuff. On the retro side look at the
> innovations coming out for the hobby be it console games, computers,
> arcades. Some of it isn't ground breaking but it's still low level stuff
> that shows deep understanding of systems.
> Look at the 64K demo scene contests that currently happen around the
> world on the PC. To me that's modern, and so amazing. Blows my mind.
> Look at the videos on youtube, 64k demo 2015 or 2014 or 2013

Interesting views. And I checked out a YouTube video.

I'm from the 1970's era, so I don't think only about "lucky pioneers", I 
think about my colleagues from the era - a few of them are famous, many 
are not - just as you do today, Ethan, about your colleagues. In my 
particular case, I'm representing my era as a former professional; 
others of my age, were as I was also, hobbyists, early computer builders 
and owners.

Part of my solution, is to put some of those lesser-known individuals' 
work - past or present - on my Web site. So that's one approach.

"There's a lot more going on now, than in the past.". Hmmm...No, there's 
always something going on: other people are just more accessible in the 
21st century. My 1990's S-100 work was distributed in a paper magazine, 
read by thousands, referenced in Usenet emails.  We know what today's 
world is like, everybody accesses everybody NOW. So, how many people are 

And innovation is not a 21st century invention, Ethan. Cramming ROM 
monitors into 1K 8-bit codes, was a kind of contest, but Roger Amidon 
and Claude Kagan were trading Z80 subroutines not just for fun, but 
because few OWNED more than 1K of memory!

So, Ethan says bringing 21st C. innovations into 20th C computers - 
hardware or software, contests - is another way to represent "deep 
understandings of systems". Fair enough, it's not entirely my way but 
it's a solution too, and certainly happening.


Herbert R. Johnson,  New Jersey USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preservation of 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AAT retrotechnology DOTT com
alternate: herbjohnson ATT retrotechnology DOTT info

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