[rescue] The good old days really were

microcode at zoho.com microcode at zoho.com
Mon Jun 10 06:28:30 CDT 2013

On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 07:09:04AM -0400, Lionel Peterson wrote:


My take on why this is a problem is lack of nostalgia and lack of
relevance. One, we were (mostly) there. We wrote code, we crashed the
machine(s), we went through upgrades, downtimes, coffee, twinkies, the power
failures, the other guy's cigarette smoke etc. That was another world. The
hardware and software and the noise and the heat and visceral computing will
never be the same. If you didn't live it you don't miss it and you don't
understand the magic fascination about old clunkers that ran at the speed of
a turtle falling up mount Everest. Computing was social then, even for the
most confirmed loner. Today it's impersonal. No more terminal rooms.

Back then virtually everybody who used a computer wrote code. Today
virtually nobody writes code as a percentage of total "computer" users.
Today's computer isn't a computer, it's an entertainment appliance. If you
can't play games or watch movies it's not a computer. So it's not really
surprising people aren't interested. Anything that takes effort pushes off
most people. Anything that takes respect for people who came before is also
sadly foreign today. It's a tough sell.

What's the solution? The nostalgia is "you had to be there" and that's awful
hard to impart. It's more than doing it today with old hardware and
software, it's about Having Been There And Done That. Sadly those days are
long gone.

Getting people interested in writing good code is a good start. After that
they have a context. Computers aren't about playing games or watching
movies. They're about writing code, and everything that goes with that- the
creativity, the despair, the YES!!! moments. And then they have a way to
understand what it must have been like writing code with almost no memory
and and CPUs thousands (millions?) times slower.

> Personally, I think what's fascinating about the US space program was that
> we managed to put a man on the moon WITHOUT a federal Department of
> Education, but that's a discussion for another list.

Ha ha ha. And yeah.

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