[vcf-midatlantic] Trash talk (was: Museum Report)

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Tue Aug 21 18:00:21 EDT 2018

> It came as something as a shock when, after 25 years or so of using
> "Trash-80" merely as a streamlined way of saying "TRS-80," I first
> encountered someone to whom the term was strongly offensive. It took
> even longer for me to grasp just _how_ strongly it offended, simply
> because the Platform Holy Wars dispute had degenerated to "Mac vs.
> IBM" with rare interjections of "Amiga!" by the time I encountered it.
> The various 8-bit platforms remained in minor use by those
> disinterested in forking over non-trivial sums of money to get
> something more current, but had long since ceased to even be
> referenced in that futile conflict, let alone be actual contenders
> therein.
> My two cents; quote or ignore as preferred.

Not to hijack the thread; but referring to previous generations of 
personal computers as either "Trash 80's" or "holy wars" or "the various 
8-bit platforms" - all are somewhat derisive references to computers 
which, in many cases, the person using such words has no experience 
with. I appreciate that Gordon is telling his story as someone who now 
know better; thank you.

The TRS-80 is well-discussed in this this thread. I'll address the 
references to earlier computers, those being the systems of interest and 
experience to me.

So - before "IBM vs. Mac", there was "IBM vs CP/M systems". Calling all 
those systems "8 bit ... minor use .. futile conflict" and inferring 
their owners were too cheap to upgrade to "more current"; more examples 
of derisive comments. Again - I appreciate the writer, Gordon, has 
disavowed these words today; they represent (I hope) the words of his 
earlier days-of-youth. But they are still obnoxious terms; and untrue too.

The 8-bit and 16 bit systems of the late 1970's and into the 1980's were 
often performance competitive with the IBM PC's of that era. They 
operated not-inexpensive business and personal software which provided 
useful results. Small businesses in particular - one of the early 
drivers of personal computing - were well invested in that hardware and 
software. Whereas, for IBM PC's early years, there was a LACK of 
software. Much of the early IBM-PC software was simply 
re-assembled-for-MS-DOS CP/M software.

My Ithaca Intersystem will run rings around an IBM-PC of the same year 
of manufacture. I know that - because Jeff Duntemann *showed that to me 
at the time*, he had both. He's a writer and publisher known in the IBM 
PC era and from times prior.

As for the modern obsession of "must have newest computer... must have 
newest software". In the 1970's and 80's, people and businesses expected 
to run computers and software for YEARS - and they did, quite 
successfully so. As did their cars, their appliances, and many other 
items of comparable cost. Flipping computers began in the 1990's, when 
Tiawan clones of IBM PC's became cheap and plentiful, and technology 
moved much faster, and of course PC's were extremely standardized. Those 
were not the conditions of the 80's, and less so in the 1970's.

Many people, ran those computers for a long time. Why do you suppose, 
they bothered to SAVE them, decades later, after using them? Where do 
you think *we* got those systems today, decades later? How come, they 
*still* run? All clues to value, then and now.

I'll end the lecture here with some simple advice. Computers of an era 
ought to be judged in the context of their era; and not based on "trash 
talk" from owners of successor systems. And in many cases, those 
successors companies and products, obtained their value from work done 
(or people trained upon) those prior systems. They owe their success, to 
the past. Thus, the value of retaining past works.

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

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