[vcf-midatlantic] Inventor of the first personal computer dies - and it's not who you think

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Mon Apr 24 12:27:47 EDT 2017

On the question of "first personal computers", I think Evan's response 
of Apr 22 11:16:22 was very even-handed and well-considered.

Evan, like many of us, has the experience of describing and responding 
to A RANGE of questions, on the history of various forms of personal 
computing devices. He also has the experience, of seeing how current 
definitions of personal computing change - "what is" and "first" 
questions are retrospective. Of course, computing devices have "evolved" 
over time as well. "It's all relative" is a reasonable stance.

As for "firsts". Since the definition varies, and since details vary, 
any claim to "first" must be qualified by function and time. Claims of 
firsts are more like conversation starters - or to pick a fight.

As for "worshiping Wes Clark", he and his colleagues did an amazing 
thing with the LINC, at that point in time. And those of them still 
alive today, are STILL working on restoring LINC computers. Evan 
confuses admiration about results and persistence, for worship of a 
person at a point in time.


All that aside, I personally cringe whenever Evan refers to "the 
homebrew era". My interests are in S-100 systems; calling them 
"homebrew" suggests they were some person's one-off contraption from 
their basement. And retrospectively, casts them as second-class 
products, "homebrew" vs say "appliance". The generation of basement and 
garage craftspersons who made what they needed, seems to be lost history 
to the generation who buys everything they want.

I don't have a better term today, but "craft computing" sounds better to 
me than "homebrew computing".

I spent some time, developing an argument (formal history) for what I'm 
talking about. But it's too long for a reasonable reply to another 
subject. I'll make the argument another day for why "homebrew" computing 
sounds to people of my age, like Jed Clampett of the "Beverly 
Hillbillies" TV show. As in, stills of alcohol in rural middle America. 
Evan is talking about MY era, and me and my technical and business 
colleagues of the era aren't "hillbillies"!

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net

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