[vcf-midatlantic] OT: Re: Is it just me or.....

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Sun Mar 4 13:21:19 EST 2018

  >  Comparisons
> to how personal computing evolved is a useful shorthand and we're still in
> the early, more experimental stage of the process.

And I say it's *not* useful shorthand, because the analogy between the 
two, breaks down at fundamental levels. I think the analogy creates 
false expectations. That's happened a number of times over the decades, 
with almost any emerging technology that was "sold" by making that 

>  But the big reason why personal 3D printing has
> become popular and cheaper in the past decade is mostly due to a couple
> hundred FDM, SLA patents expiring since Y2K. 

 > [Imagine if]
> Intel, Motorola, Zilog, etc. taking out patents on not just their VLSI
> design, but also the schematics found in their databooks...

Dan makes a good point. The semiconductor companies *encouraged* 
individual and small-company use of their products - namely 
microprocessor *memory and logic*, not some computer design. The 
microprocessors and those schematics were the "razors", the RAM and TTL 
chips were "the blades" (look up Gillette razors).

The microcomputer makers, *had* to make their architectures "open" too, 
so the early buyers could figure out what to do with these new 
computers. They were sold with no software, and little hardware - you 
had to buy more blades - I mean hardware - to get something DONE with 
these old computers.

But that also permitted competitors to make plug-compatible boards and 
products - which is OK as it sold more computers (sometimes). There was 
in vintage computing, a tug-of-war between "open" and "closed" 

Now *these are* useful vintage-computing references, in my opinion! And 
it's "vintage", because modern 21-century computing isn't very "open" in 
the same way. The idea of making your own computer interface cards 
today, is about like making your own pots and pans, or making your own 
car parts. It took technologies like Arduino, to make USB devices a 
"hacker" can hook up to a PeeCee today. Ditto, RaspPi. IN the 90's, the 
interface was ISA, or serial, or parallel - simpler, using simpler 
processors (8051's, PICs in BASIC).

So there's lessons to learn from vintage computing history - but you 
gotta choose the right lessons.

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

More information about the vcf-midatlantic mailing list