[vcf-midatlantic] the human element [was Culpability and Provenance]

Jeffrey Jonas jeffrey.scott.jonas at gmail.com
Fri Jan 15 23:36:53 UTC 2021

replying to Dean Notarnicola

> I love tech for techs sake. It can be both art and science.

I highly agree.

- taking apart old electronics and appliances was my first electronics
Reverse engineering ordinary things shows amazing design and cleverness.
Before circuit boards, EVERYTHING was hand-wired and hand-made.
There was a human element in everything.
High end items got more care, such as lacing-cord on the wires
to neatly bundle them. Then zip-ties came along and ruined it all.

- most machines interact with people in some way:
what we now call the User Interface.
Old machines were pieces of art and craftsmanship in everything you
saw and touched:
every knob and wheel and button. Even the labels were calligraphy.
There was artistry in every piece, seen or unseen:
curved wheel & gear spokes, artfully carved handles and cabinetry.
Even office typewriters tried to appeal to "woman's aesthetics"
with gold gilding and artsy appliques.
There are several books of "the art of the engineer".
Even Adam Savage drools over the amazing functionality of the
Studley tool cabinet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_O._Studley

Bill Inderrieden and I have enjoyed many conversations
about the power stations, factories and industrial facilities he's visited.
The buildings and windows all have a wonderful sense of style and function.
Even the stair cases and banisters are worthy of the finest hotel.

I assert that early CISC machine architecture was very human oriented.
The instruction set and options catered to the assembler programmer
who required the most direct way to express the problem to the CPU.
Instruction set orthogonality is a measure of goodness.
And gimme general purpose file registers. LOTSA registers. 16 or more!
Every CPU/microprocessor/microcontroller I study
shows a unique approach that I admire and respect,
thus the incredible variety of microprocessors in the 70s and 80s.
Then RISC came along and ruined it all :-(

Don't get me wrong, I had the most wonderful RISC course at Concurrent
Computer Corp.
We were a tough audience. We were all experienced assembler programmers.
After programming the IBM 360 in high school,
I found the Z80 really weak and tedious to program.
But there are many compelling reasons that RISC is the way to go.
That course respectfully explained it.

That's why I <3 vintage computing: we recreate the FUN and personal satisfaction
of the "vintage" computer environment (although they were not vintage
when we used 'em!)

-- jeff jonas

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