Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 30th Aug 2012 09:16 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Just driving yesterday's point home some more: "The Lilith was one of the first computer workstations worldwide with a high-resolution graphical display and a mouse. The first prototype was developed by Niklaus Wirth and his group between 1978 and 1980 with Richard Ohran as the hardware specialist. [...] The whole system software of the Lilith was written in Modula-2, a structured programming language which Wirth has developed at the same time. The programs were compiled into low-level M-Code instructions which could be executed by the hardware. The user interface was designed with windows, icons and pop-up menus. Compared with the character based systems available at that time, these were revolutionary metaphors in the interaction with a computer." Jos Dreesen, owner of one of the few remaining working Liliths, wrote a Lilith emulator for Linux.
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RE[5]: Comment by Laurence
by Doc Pain on Fri 31st Aug 2012 02:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Laurence"
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

The reason they did that back then was the original machines were built for businesses and the vertical layout made it so you could fit an entire paper form onto the screen without scrolling.


Correct. A typical "text processing computer" of the 1980's era is the CPT Phoenix. I still have one, even though without the software. It looks like this:

http://www.minotaurz.com/compmuse/museum/pix/CPT1.jpg

The idea of "having more Y than X" is interesting when you see today's 16:9 screens littered with title bars, menu bars, start bars, icon bars, extension bars, selection bars and so on, leaving only a small amount of the program window for actual work, while to the left and the right there is unused space. Some 16:9 screens allow turning them 90° mechanically (while logically it's no problem with e. g. "xrandr --rotate right").

As an old greybeard I can tell you a LOT of computing in the late 70s-late 80s was all about filling in forms in the business world and by having the entire form on the screen it was easier for your average worker in government or business to just tab their way through the form filling out the fields.


While 3270s and 5250s were typically limited to an 80x24 grid, vertical screens allowed to bring a better overview about the whole form at first sight. I think that was a benefit for datatypists. Young people, grab a dictionary and look up "datatypist"! :-)

Of course now our screens are made for television viewing first, computer usage second, so maybe they had the right idea?


It's still possible to buy 4:3 or 16:10 screens, but they are more expensive than the cheap 16:9 screns. I think this is also an economical consideration: When you say, for example, "this is a 21 inch screen", then you have a smaller (in terms of pixels to be "produced") one at 16:9 than at 4:3. So basically, I'd say 16:9 is cheaper. People want cheap, they get cheap. And if advertised as "excellent to watch movies on it", why not?

i know I certainly would have a lot of leftover whitespace if I did everything fullscreen like we did back then.


I suppose you also consider "modern" web pages with fixed width, so they would fit three times in a row... ;-)

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