Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 12:48 UTC
In the News "We all know about the gadgets that get showered with constant praise - the icons, the segment leaders, and the game changers. Tech history will never forget the Altair 8800, the Walkman, the BlackBerry, and the iPhone. But people do forget - and quickly - about the devices that failed to change the world: the great ideas doomed by mediocre execution, the gadgets that arrived before the market was really ready, or the technologies that found their stride just as the world was pivoting to something else." I was a heavy user of BeOS, Zip drives, and MiniDisc (I was an MD user up until about 2 years ago). I'm starting to see a pattern here.
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Zip drives are the devil!
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 13:35 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Seriously! The first and, to my knowledge, only system to have a self-perpetuating hardware bug. They were used as update devices for embedded systems. You had one bad disk or drive and shortly they'd all be dead in the office. I kept mine under lock and key, let no one borrow a disk or a drive. Then I got sick of it and hacked together an ethernet driver for my dev device.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Zip drives are the devil!
by hollovoid on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 19:03 UTC in reply to "Zip drives are the devil!"
hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21

Zip drives were awful, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread when I was the only one who owned one, and didn't yet know of the horrible reliability of the drives and disks. It wasn't until I lost a major project twice, (school computers only allowed saving to zip in graphics lab), with the dreadful 'click click click' that I gave up on them all together. Many of my classmates, all with different computers and drives suffered the same fate at one point or another. How something like that could go unchecked, and sell like it did is beyond me.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Zip drives are the devil!
by bitwelder on Fri 24th Aug 2012 06:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Zip drives are the devil!"
bitwelder Member since:
2010-04-27

Fully agree. Also apart of the bad technical problem itself, I pretty much hated the way Iomega managed (or rather, did not manage) to handle the issue.
Personally, since then I'm not considering any other product from Iomega, no matter how good it looks.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Zip drives are the devil!
by fretinator on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 22:17 UTC in reply to "Zip drives are the devil!"
fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

I always liked the Syquest EZ 135, a competitor to Zip. It was faster that a Zip, but it just never caught on - Zip was already the standard for Mac and PC.

Reply Score: 3

Amstrad PCW
by chemical_scum on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 13:46 UTC
chemical_scum
Member since:
2005-11-02

The Amstrad PCW was my first home computer. It was a great word processing system with a dedicated printer. It was also a useful little general purpose computer, as it could also run the full CP/M OS as well as the word processing software Locoscript that ran in a dedicated cut down CP/M.

This was great for me as CP/M was based on the DEC operating systems as Garry Kildall had also worked on the DEC operating systems before he left DEC and started Digital Research. My first computer at work was a PDP-11 running RT-11. the OS was so similar especially the useful and versatile PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program).

It was actually quite successful in Britain at the time but then IBM introduced the first PC and the market moved on.

Edited 2012-08-23 13:49 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Amstrad PCW
by orfanum on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 14:00 UTC in reply to "Amstrad PCW"
orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

Yes, I wrote my MA stuff on one of those babies in 1993-1994; I recall that it had a fantastic clipboard that you could programme with up to 10 frequently used snippets, which I have never found bog standard anywhere since (and if someone wants to point out my tech myopia there, please let me know if this does exist somewhere else now!). I still have the disks somewhere and was tempted to hack a PCW 3" drive on a PC a la http://www.fvempel.nl/3pc.html even a little while back, just to retrieve all those hours of work.

For sheer productivity it did better than the PC Windows 3.11 machine I moved to for the start of my doctorate. Talk about no distractions!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Amstrad PCW
by rjamorim on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 17:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Amstrad PCW"
rjamorim Member since:
2005-12-05

I recall that it had a fantastic clipboard that you could programme with up to 10 frequently used snippets, which I have never found bog standard anywhere since (and if someone wants to point out my tech myopia there, please let me know if this does exist somewhere else now!).


CLCL
http://www.nakka.com/soft/clcl/index_eng.html

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Amstrad PCW
by orfanum on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 22:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Amstrad PCW"
orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

Thank you kindly ;)

Reply Score: 2

OS/2
by fretinator on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 14:08 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

For me, the great disappointment will always be OS/2. I loved the power of OS/2. However, the missteps are legendary:

1. Initially, OS/2 arrived with requirements that far exceeded the PC's that were being sold. It required 16MB of RAM at a time when PC's were being sold with 2-4MB of RAM. Only a select few could run it.

2. Usability - in my mind OS/2 users remind of Linux users today (of which I am one). They take great pride in tweaking their OS, and don't mind hand-editting config files, etc. However, this often leaves the average user helpless. For Linux today, this isn't that much of an issue, but it always was for OS/2. Often, your only choice was to wade through the giant config.sys file hand editing driver settings. The classic example was adding a sound card. The GUI didn't change the sound card when you went through the sound configuration steps - it just added more lines to config.sys. I remember the steps I had to go through to get my CD-Rom working, the sound card, video above vanilla VGA, etc. I know Windows 95 wasn't perfect, but when I popped in the CD, after the install everthing was working.

3. Marketing - oh my! The marketing for OS/2 Warp was astoundingly bad. THe commercials were confusing. The best example was a large banner at LAX that said something like "OS/2 Warp blows your hard drive away". Is that good, is that bad? Is OS/2 a virus. People had no clue.

Nevertheless, I still miss the days of having a DOS 5 window, a DOS 6 Window, an OS/2 DOS window, a native OS/2 app and a Windows 3.1 app all open at the same time. It was a remarkable OS with remarkable potential. Such a shame. I know it is still available as EComStation (I assume they had a discount on buzz words at the time), but I have never been able to afford it. Darn!

Reply Score: 6

RE: OS/2
by Vanders on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 14:58 UTC in reply to "OS/2"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

3. Marketing - oh my! The marketing for OS/2 Warp was astoundingly bad. THe commercials were confusing. The best example was a large banner at LAX that said something like "OS/2 Warp blows your hard drive away". Is that good, is that bad? Is OS/2 a virus. People had no clue.


I was never an OS/2 guy, but that is astonishingly bad. Did IBM hire the Commodore marketing team for OS/2 or something?

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: OS/2
by zima on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 17:15 UTC in reply to "RE: OS/2"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

"Warp" alone also had... issues: http://www.insearchofstupidity.com/ch6.htm

Anyway, the talk about OS/2 usually misses probably the most important reason why it failed: deep down, its goal was to return to IBM the control over the PC - duh, of course numerous OEMs didn't go along, Gang of Nine style, and effectively blocked it from the market with less expensive "good enough" Win 3.x machines (and afterwards it was just too late, IIRC OS/2 Warp was essentially given away in some places, as a time-limited demo which could be easily - even accidentally - unlocked; didn't amount much)

Edited 2012-08-23 17:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: OS/2
by moondevil on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 20:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: OS/2"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

The first PC my parents bought was a 386SX with 2MB RAM and 40MB hard-disk with DR-DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1.

For the same price I could get a 286 with OS/2 1.1 with similar RAM and disk size.

I think I don't need to explain why we got the 386.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: OS/2
by bassbeast on Sat 25th Aug 2012 12:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: OS/2"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Actually it wasn't the ads that killed OS/2 (In fact the article you linked to is incorrect, Paramount didn't have a fit until AFTER the unveiling, Stewart couldn't show because he was filming a Next gen movie so they got Mulgrew because Voyager was still on) it was the totally retarded chip decision that gave it no chance in hell.

You see IBM had the right to make their own 286, as well as to source from AMD as a second source, thanks to their contract with Intel. But Intel was trying to stop allowing second sourcing and thus refused to sell IBM the rights to second source the 386. Now for those that don't remember the 386 and 486 were pretty big steps up from the 286, but IBM kept trying to push 286 machines (at the same price the others were selling 386 and later 486) because it meant more profit for them.

Naturally Compaq and the rest of the gang of nine were happy to take that business and after IBM tried to stick it to them with MCA there was no way they were taking an IBM OS, so bye bye OS/2, where the only machines that came with it were underpowered AND overpriced.

Now as for TFA I don't know if these would count or not but I always though Compact Flash and Capture cards would end up a lot bigger than they did. I mean while everyone else was still struggling for space i was carrying a whopping 64Mb! on a CF with a USB 1.0 adapter, that was a ton of space! And you could use it as an IDE drive with a simple adapter! Now you only see CF in a few tiny niches, replaced by itty bitty thumbsticks.

And in 97-07 I thought cap cards were just the coolest thing, turn your PC into a DVR! You can time shift, backup your favorite shows, it was cool! Sadly the software blew chunks and by the time units with truly decent software and drivers came out everyone had moved to just watching on the net. I've still got a brand new cap card still in the box I bought when my cable switched to digital...only to never bother since I can just watch everything on the net now...doh.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: OS/2
by zima on Sat 25th Aug 2012 20:49 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: OS/2"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, but I didn't claim that ads were what killed OS/2. Conversely, I said that it was ultimately about IBM being IBM ("good old IBM" and all, used to how they were always doing things on ~mainframes) versus Gang of Nine dynamics - things on which you, yeah, elaborate a bit more ;)

I think CF lives on in more ~pro usages... But what makes it still suitable there, is also why it was surpassed by SD in consumer gear? (and generally, being a bit too large physically, NVM costly)
USB - more ubiquitous, the pendrives more handy.


TV card was great for a poor student living in a dorm* ...but, other than that, PC just didn't fit too well with how people watch TV (the typically horrible software didn't help; or how a group would block PC usage by one person, also while TVs are often kinda "in the background" on) - and they didn't even really move to watching on the net (Netflix and such have limited reach; and YT is a bit distinct from the TV - just glance over the top clips there). Hell, meanwhile people were moving to more "very TV" & expensive setups, with the explosive growth of pay TV.

*and quite useful, in a way, when some major turmoil unfolded in the country of my room mate, and he was able to follow the situation via CNN coverage.
Though I'm still not quite sure how I was able to receive CNN over-the-air... my best guess: since the Flakturm-like dorm is adjacent to a neighbourhood of old (antique-protected?) large villas, it's plausible that one belongs to some diplomatic mission which set up a small-scale repeater, for the reception throughout the property - quite easily picked up also by the nearby large antenna on dorm roof (I certainly wasn't able to detect any CNN broadcast while moving to another place just ~1 km away)

But even though I had, supposedly, a TV card among the best-supported ones (bt848/878 series, compatible with dscaler or K!TV), there were some lingering issues... (most notably with sound under dscaler)
Still, I must hook it up again one day, to digitise some old VHS tapes... (luckily, in this case the highest-quality dscaler won't be a problem, since audio from the VCR can be handled by the soundcard line-in; OTOH, some of the older tapes are probably in SECAM, which my TV card likely doesn't support, arghh)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by drcouzelis
by drcouzelis on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 14:58 UTC
drcouzelis
Member since:
2010-01-11

I had a minidisc player too. I always thought it was a the perfect blend of "CD quality audio" and "record anything anywhere any time" like an audio casette. Oh well, that was before I realized just how proprietary the format was. :/

I hate hate hate TI graphing calculators. I could easily have a cheap application on a phone do the same thing, but NOOO I have to buy the $100 humongous calculator.

I've never used BeOS but I'm an active Haiku user. ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by drcouzelis
by Doc Pain on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 20:40 UTC in reply to "Comment by drcouzelis"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I had a minidisc player too. I always thought it was a the perfect blend of "CD quality audio" and "record anything anywhere any time" like an audio casette.


What I did like about Minidiscs was the form factor. They were quite handy. The size was a "good feeling in your hand", and they were easy to store. In daily use, the fact that they came as cartridges (plastic enclosing carrying the media) was a real benefit compared to CDs and DVDs which have an "open surface" toward the environment, usually breadcrumbs on the table or spilled coffee, and all flat surfaces will soon be covered with them. :-)

You can also see a certain trend in computer media with a "step backward": tape reels, 8" disks, 5.25" disks, 3.5" disks, minidiscs, but then: CDs and DVDs again at 5.25"-like form factor. Ha, you can even get full-featured computers the size of a DVD drive!

Minidiscs are also as handy as CF cards - not too big, not too small (like micro-SD cards where you have to pay attention not to accidentally breathe them in). For a portable medium, they were quite okay. I'd like to see that form factor (and cartridge!) instead of today's CD and DVD formats. But people want cheap, they get cheap.

Oh well, that was before I realized just how proprietary the format was. :/


Proprietary stuff will die, sooner or later. That killed many formats with potential. Anyone remember CDi? I still have lots of CDi gear here, because I'm a living museum. :-)

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis
by zima on Fri 24th Aug 2012 03:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by drcouzelis"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

> I had a minidisc player too. I always thought it was a the perfect blend of "CD quality audio" and "record anything anywhere any time" like an audio casette.
What I did like about Minidiscs was the form factor. They were quite handy [...]
You can also see a certain trend in computer media with a "step backward": tape reels, 8" disks, 5.25" disks, 3.5" disks, minidiscs, but then: CDs and DVDs again at 5.25"-like form factor [...]
I'd like to see that form factor (and cartridge!) instead of today's CD and DVD formats. But people want cheap, they get cheap.

Though MD never really was a computer medium - I believe the early plans for dedicated data storage drives never materialised, and the later (larger in capacity, and IIRC seen as storage by computers) MD variant was just... too late, when flash-based mp3 players and USB pendrives were already taking over - oh, and those do have a smaller form factor (but also not too small, usually)

And the Minidisc faced a still very strong, similarly handy, entrenched competitor - the Compact Cassette. With "inexpensive" being also a very important feature, especially in a portable audio player (easily lost, stolen, or broken - still, WRT the last one, cassette players were probably most rugged and resistant), don't brush it off.
Meanwhile, MD tended to be silly expensive for what it offered, throughout most of the 90s (especially the portables which could record). And we have to put it in the context of the times - those were the years when the CD not only already enjoyed major network effects, also still had plenty of room for growth in getting really widespread. Between those two, grabbing a CD player was a clearly better choice (and subsequently to that, it was harder to swallow the cost of MD player, especially with very inexpensive portable cassette players around).
When the prices of MD tech finally became acceptable, the world already started the move to MP3.

(and it's not really a "CD quality audio" - uses quite sub-par lossy codec; not that it matters too much in portable scenarios...)

> Oh well, that was before I realized just how proprietary the format was. :/
Proprietary stuff will die, sooner or later. That killed many formats with potential. Anyone remember CDi? I still have lots of CDi gear here, because I'm a living museum. :-)

But the Red Book CD is also a proprietary standard, as are DVDs... (or MP3 and AAC; even Compact Cassettes, I think - at least in conjunction with Dolby noise reduction, which kinda made using them for music practical) MD doesn't seem that much out of the ordinary.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by Johann Chua on Fri 24th Aug 2012 11:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

"> Oh well, that was before I realized just how proprietary the format was. :/
Proprietary stuff will die, sooner or later. That killed many formats with potential. Anyone remember CDi? I still have lots of CDi gear here, because I'm a living museum. :-)

But the Red Book CD is also a proprietary standard, as are DVDs... (or MP3 and AAC; even Compact Cassettes, I think - at least in conjunction with Dolby noise reduction, which kinda made using them for music practical) MD doesn't seem that much out of the ordinary.
"

Maybe "non-widespread standard" would be a better term?

I know there were non-Sony Beta VCRs, but I've only ever seen Betamaxes in person. Checking Wikipedia, I see that other manufacturers made MDs, but did anyone else make the players and recorders? Basically, MD seemed to be a case of Sony vs. the rest of the world.

Edited 2012-08-24 11:25 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by drcouzelis
by zima on Fri 24th Aug 2012 16:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

did anyone else make the players and recorders?

Yes, I remember at least some Sharp portable units. Keep in mind that, in practice, MD was mostly confined to Japan; was quite widespread there - and the place is, in some regards ...unique ;p & who knows what goes around over there.

And "non-widespread standards will die, sooner or later. That killed many formats with potential" veers way into the area of truisms, is not a very revealing thing to say ;) (also with "MD doesn't seem that much out of the ordinary" - I think it's safe to say that most introduced standards never really manage to gain the required momentum)

PS. Also checking Wiki ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiniDisc ): "JVC, Sharp, Pioneer, Panasonic and others all producing their own MD systems" (and some of those Sharp units in: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:MD_players ); and it seems that MD Data was released after all.

Edited 2012-08-24 16:23 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis
by zima on Thu 30th Aug 2012 07:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by drcouzelis"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What I did like about Minidiscs was the form factor. They were quite handy [...]
You can also see a certain trend in computer media with a "step backward": tape reels, 8" disks, 5.25" disks, 3.5" disks, minidiscs, but then: CDs and DVDs again at 5.25"-like form factor [...]
I'd like to see that form factor (and cartridge!) instead of today's CD and DVD formats.

PS. And I forgot about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MiniDVD (CDs too of course, and both also in business card form).
Yeah, not that popular (it seems the size of standard optical media doesn't bother us that much after all), but certainly around - for drivers and such, or as recordable media. And Gamecube...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by drcouzelis
by Morgan on Fri 24th Aug 2012 11:04 UTC in reply to "Comment by drcouzelis"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I hate hate hate TI graphing calculators.


This makes me sad. ;) I absolutely loved programming in TI-BASIC and ASM on my TI-86! Granted, that was several years before the smartphone era, and the PDAs of the time were barely more powerful than the TI calculators and certainly not capable of emulating them.

I've never used BeOS but I'm an active Haiku user.


I think that is so awesome, and bodes well for the project if you're not the only person who uses Haiku without having used BeOS. I did use BeOS back in the day; I started out with the free version of 5.0.3 and was so impressed I immediately bought 5.0 Pro from GoBe Software. I put it on my PII home-built system and it was freaking amazing! I even managed to get it to install on a modified Netpliance i-Opener (anyone remember that device??) but it didn't support all the hardware so I went back to GNU/Linux on that one.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis
by drcouzelis on Fri 24th Aug 2012 16:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by drcouzelis"
drcouzelis Member since:
2010-01-11

"I hate hate hate TI graphing calculators.
This makes me sad. "
I'm sorry, I should have been more specific. I agree that what you did on your calculator in the year you did it was very cool. ;)

But the fact that calculators like the TI-83 are still the same price and still the same form factor and still "required" for math classes makes me mad. It's been well over a decade! I just can't see it as anything other than milking a business model on an outdated product.

I believe a student nowadays should be able to easily do all of the cool fun stuff you did on your calculator on their mobile phone. Oh. That reminds me. I'm mad at the mobile phone market too. ;)

Edited 2012-08-24 16:25 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by smashIt on Fri 24th Aug 2012 16:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

But the fact that calculators like the TI-83 are still the same price and still the same form factor and still "required" for math classes makes me mad.


the required part is the main problem
the 84+ should cost 50 bucks and be the only non-CAS model in TIs lineup

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by Morgan on Fri 24th Aug 2012 19:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Have you played with the newest TI-Nspire CX calculators? We got a couple of them in at my part time job as former demo units, and I must say that they are very impressive devices! The screen is simply gorgeous, they are rechargeable with excellent battery life, they can do chemical notation(!) and they are so, so fast.

I hate that I sound like an advertisement but, short of the inescapable form factor, they really are outstanding for their intended use.

I think the key difference between using a calculator like that and using a mobile phone, when speaking of the classroom, is the ease with which a student could cheat given an Internet capable phone. I suppose the instructor could require the phone be placed in airplane mode, but it's still just way too easy to cheat with one. It's not impossible with the calculator either, but it's also not so drastic to ask a student to wipe the calculator and reset it to defaults as it is to have them wipe their phone and risk losing months or even years of valuable data.

I could even see a situation where an instructor would confiscate the phone for the duration of the class, whereas he wouldn't do that to a student's calculator given they are designed specifically for use in the classroom.

I believe a student nowadays should be able to easily do all of the cool fun stuff you did on your calculator on their mobile phone.


Though I certainly agree with your sentiment here, unfortunately there's a key variable in this situation: A phone is a media consumption device that distracts the student from truly immersing himself in the experience of programming on the device. A second factor is the lack of good programming environments for the devices; though Android and even Windows Phone have rudimentary IDEs for this, they are severely limited in what they allow access to. In the latter's case, it's basically a GUI-driven GUI creator, similar to Visual Basic but with little actual code.

A third factor is the lack of a physical keyboard on most current devices, and while one could always whip out a Bluetooth keyboard, at that point it becomes tedious enough to say "screw it, I'm carrying a netbook/ultrabook with me". And a fourth factor is scope; back when I was programming on the TI calcualtor, it was because I was interested in learning about that specific platform. Programs were designed to enhance the device and "fill in the gaps" in its default software. With a modern smartphone, there is no need for that for most users; they just download an app (written, tested and debugged on a PC) that fills that need. If I truly want to delve into the inner workings of the ARM platform, well that's what I bought a Raspberry Pi for.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by whartung on Mon 27th Aug 2012 17:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
whartung Member since:
2005-07-06


But the fact that calculators like the TI-83 are still the same price and still the same form factor and still "required" for math classes makes me mad. It's been well over a decade! I just can't see it as anything other than milking a business model on an outdated product.


What I find sad is that the $10 Casio Scientific calculators with their nice screens, solar powered, eleventy zillion functions, etc. have absolutely NO programmability. Zero. You're lucky if they have 1 memory slot.

Case in point: http://www.casio.com/products/Calculators_%26_Dictionaries/Frac...

Seriously? 1 MEMORY?? Couldn't add in 4 K of RAM and simple keyboard programming/macro facility for another $0.27?

Instead, it's either this for $10 or a $100-150 device with 128K of RAM, USB dongle, WI-FI and Joystick ports.

The closest we have today in philosophy of a pure programmable calculator is the HP-35s, but its $50.

Just want a calculator, I don't want to model the weather or port a SNES emulator to the thing.

Oh, and don't get me started on somehow adding Time/Value/Money facilities to a calculator makes it now worth +$30 since it's a "business calculator" now... Please...

Edited 2012-08-27 17:20 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis
by zima on Fri 24th Aug 2012 16:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by drcouzelis"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Netpliance i-Opener (anyone remember that device??)

Hm, I'm picturing a kitchen ~web terminal integrated with a can opener(?) ;p

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by drcouzelis
by Morgan on Fri 24th Aug 2012 19:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by drcouzelis"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Close enough! They were originally designed as a "web appliance" with no local storage, and sold as a loss-leader. When the hacking community inevitably turned them into full fledged computers by adding a laptop hard drive and scrounging up drivers for Windows 98, the company jacked the price up and tried to monetize the community's efforts while simultaneously sabotaging future revisions of the hardware against hacking potential.

I had picked up several of the units off of eBay around 1999-2000 for about $50 each and turned them into full fledged computers that I sold to friends at cost +$20 for the time invested. It made several of my poorer friends and coworkers happy that they could afford a second computer for the kids or a kitchen computer for the spouse, and I had a blast doing it. I kept one for myself, without any mods apart from installing a custom GNU/Linux OS on the 16MB internal storage chip, and used it as a thin client with Blackbox as the WM. I ended up giving that last one away to another friend when I lost interest in the platform.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by broken_symlink
by broken_symlink on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 15:44 UTC
broken_symlink
Member since:
2005-07-06

Had a zip drive once as well. Still have 2 clios, one of them running netbsd. Also own a minidisc player, but I don' use it anymore either. Still use my TI-83 plus though.

I came pretty close to buying a flip and n800 too.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 18:34 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

If you liked floppies Zip disks were great.

There was a time when all my files would fit on a 1.44 MB floppy, so a 100 MB Zip drive was like an empty room that was so huge that the walls were beyond the horizon.

I think I should have at least 2 external Zip drives, maybe even 3. Maybe I should look them up and see what I can do with them.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by zima on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 23:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Transfer/salvage largish amounts of data (for whatever reason...) to/from old machines, which don't have USB nor Ethernet, but do have parallel port? (or SCSI) Coincidentally, you supposedly have quite a scrapyard over there. ;)
I don't really see any other scenario, nowadays.

If you liked floppies Zip disks were great.

I don't know... floppies, for all their faults, had one indisputable redeeming quality: they were disposable-inexpensive. Not so with Zip disks, in the times when they could be relevant (plus, apart from size, they took the faults of floppies to new heights - I'm really not sure how a "Here, we celebrate the best products that are sliding slowly into the memory hole" article can open with Zip disks O_o )

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Fri 24th Aug 2012 06:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I think the were great, it's just they came too late for some (writable CDs coming) and were too expensive for others.

For some strange reason the 2.88 MB floppy also flopped, while to me it would be great to have a disk with double the usual amount.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510
by Doc Pain on Sat 25th Aug 2012 02:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I think the were great, it's just they came too late for some (writable CDs coming) and were too expensive for others.


Prior to affordable CD writers (and putting MO discs aside for a moment), there was also the PD, the phase-change disc. Anyone know them? (I still have approx. 20 discs and three SCSI drives for them.) They were capable of storing 650 MB (the capacity of a CD), but being real RW mediums. Later on, the DVD-RAM arrived, with higher capacity, but with the same concept. Also the form factor and the idea of the cartridge was kept, allowing the disk to be turned around (like with C64 floppy disks for example) and make the other side usable, so 2 x 4.7 GB could be written to a DVD-RAM. Both the PD and the DVD-RAM didn't get much attention, because cheaper technology was already on the rise. But let's talk about durability when we discuss old-fashioned technology in 10 or 20 years, because durability has never been an important issue in home consumer devices which (especially in relation to PCs and mobile devices) seems to be the most important market today.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by MOS6510
by zima on Sat 25th Aug 2012 04:58 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by MOS6510"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The more popular RW media also seem to be using the phase change principle. I did wonder recently if that makes all of them likely to be more long-lasting (than the "R" media based on organic dyes) ...but then I realised I hardly use optical discs by now anyway, so whatever.

And closing the DVD-RAMs into cartridges, at odds with all likely-to-be widespread DVD variants, certainly didn't help their popularity, initially
(because a form without the cartridge did show up - once I bought a fairly standard tray-loading DVD writer, almost identical to its slightly more expensive sibling with DVD-RAM support, firmware of which could be flashed on mine reportedly without issues ...but to me it wasn't worth bothering, finding & buying a DVD-RAM disc; it was probably another thing not really fitting its times - maybe because of HDDs becoming quite large at the same time, people didn't see the need to use optical discs like that)

PS. Also, prior to CD-R, there was using VHS tapes as an archival medium of crazy, then, size ;) (I remember such adapter for the Amiga)

Edited 2012-08-25 05:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Cool700Toys
Member since:
2012-08-11

I have about 50 floppy disks of source code I need to transfer to CD or DVD. I also have an old computer with Windows98, Fedora Linux, and Windows XP installed. I keep it around to run older software like Windows98 Flight Simulator and some older PC games I like to play once in a blue moon! Remember The Journeyman Project Turbo or Myst? I still have an old camera that uses those smart cards and the old computer is the only one with drivers etc. that can read the smart cards.

Reply Score: 1

Omega Game
by FunkyELF on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 19:42 UTC
FunkyELF
Member since:
2006-07-26

I'm sure most readers of this site are aware of a new game coming out similar to Omega called 0x10c.

There is a fictional CPU on it that players will have to program to control their ship.

The game isn't out yet but because the CPU specs are someone already created an LLVM backend that targets the CPU. Someone created a TETRIS clone using C++, the LLVM backend and it is playable in a Javascript emulator.

Emulator loaded with binary code:
http://0x10co.de/ua5qu
C++ Code:
https://github.com/a1k0n/tetris-dcpu16

Reply Score: 2

Plan 9 could be included here too
by obsidian on Thu 23rd Aug 2012 21:38 UTC
obsidian
Member since:
2007-05-12

Ok, it is true that Plan 9 has influenced Linux with (for example) the /proc filesystem IIRC.
However, it sadly looks destined to remain in a backwater, never having fulfilled its huge potential.

If only Lucent/Bell Labs would release it as "public domain", the uptake would rocket. Given that it is already open-source, it's not as if they would lose any revenue, and they would gain great kudos and PR.

Such a release could be done as a tribute to the late Dennis Ritchie too. It would be a great way of honouring him, IMO, getting his ideas "out there" as widely as possible.

Anyway, that's Plan 9. Another could-have-been technology that didn't quite make the summit of the mountain.

Reply Score: 3

obsidian Member since:
2007-05-12

I just wanted to add that Plan 9 **deserves** a better fate than to remain in its backwater.

It would be a great shame to see it still gathering dust in 10 or 20 years time. Such a waste.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Plan 9 [...] sadly looks destined to remain in a backwater, never having fulfilled its huge potential.

If only Lucent/Bell Labs would release it as "public domain", the uptake would rocket [...] they would gain great kudos and PR.

You seriously believe that it would make any difference? (for Plan9; with PD, I can see some cannibalising of its bits & pieces for less academic operating systems) Look how becoming more open made the uptake of Solaris or Symbian rocketing...

And what potential? (versus widespread "good enough" OS)
Oh, and don't forget one important thing: Plan9 can afford to maintain its elegance and "purity" precisely because of its niche status - if you wish for it to succeed, you wish for it to likely become similarly messy to all the other ~*nixes, eventually.

Reply Score: 2

moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

The belief that systems survive if you make them open source if false.

They only survive if there are enough developers getting paid to keep sustained development, because if everyone is doing it on their free time, it eventually dies anyway.

Reply Score: 2

unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

What about HP RPN scientific calculators? Completely and utterly brilliant devices. For some bizarre reason HP decided they should be sold for 10x the price of a regular scientific calculator and almsot totally lost the market.

Reply Score: 2

BiPolar Member since:
2007-07-06

HP 48G FTW! :-)

Reply Score: 2