TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Apple Computer 30th Birthday

Re: Apple Computer 30th Birthday

Robert Bonomi (
Sat, 08 Apr 2006 13:57:34 -0000

In article <>,
<> wrote:

> May Wong wrote:

>> Apple Computer Celebrates Its 30th Birthday Amid Recent Successes,
>> Future Challenges

> It is interesting in the history of computers and technology how some
> companies last many years and others are a flash and burn out quickly.

> Whatever happened to Visicalc? WordPerfect? Commodore?

WordPerfect *is* still around. Still viable. Still making money.

Admittedly, they're not the independent company they used to be --
they were purchased by Corel Corp., who made an offer that was 'too
good to refuse'.

WP is still very much the preferred software in legal environments. A
few months ago, the U.S. Dept of Justice announced they were dumping
_all_ use of MS Word (at least -- I think it was the entire MS office
line that was dumped), and standardizing _solely_ on the WP products.

As for VisiCalc, see:
a story released today, Saturday, April 8.

Commodore was brought down by management problems -- bad strategic
decisions, etc. -- _while_ they still had a competitive product.
Subsequent attempts to revive the product line were doomed by: the
elapsed time due to legal wrangling, attempting to maintain 'backward
compatibility' the prior machines when the 'world' had moved to much
more sophisticated platforms, etc. Note: the 'maintaining backward
compatibility' dilemma is also what killed off WordStar, in the face
of competition from the likes of WordPerfect.

> For a while, Compaq and Gateway were the rage. Now it seems to be
> Dell.

HP has never been much good at -aggressive- marketing. Historically,
they sold mostly to the technical/engineering market, where superior
specifications and quality were -- pretty much _by_themselves_ --
sufficient to 'make' the deal. They sold 'beef', not 'sizzle'. :)

Forays into 'consumer' products have been handicapped by the
unwillingness (or 'inability') to sell primarily based on 'sizzle'.

> It should be noted that Hewlett Packard is a much older company, I
> believe dating back to the 1930s. They had mini-computers out by 1970.

I thought they were post-WWII, but their web-site says 'Incorporated
in 1939'.

> I doubt younger readers ever heard of Remington Rand. This was a
> large company making business products. It took over the newly
> invented Univac and ERA groups and became Univac. It merged with
> another business giant, Burroughs to become Unisys. It's a much
> smaller company today.

Would you believe that Remington-Rand still sells typewriters? And under
that brand label.

> Where are DEC (Digital/PDP) and CDC (Control Data Corporation)? What
> about Cray?

DEC was bought by COMPAQ (who eventually killed off the product-line
names), which was then absorbed into HP.

Control Data Corp remained in existence, as an -independent- company,
until *1999*, when they were acquired by 'Synterga' (sp??), a large
mining company.

CDC had gone through several 're-alignments', and changes of business
direction (including getting out of the manufacture of
high-performance mainframes) in the preceeding couple of decades.

[[.. snip ..]]

> It's strange that so many websites and articles refer to the "early
> days" and "antiques" of computers to only 30 years ago. The PC
> revolution was indeed a big change for society. However, the advent
> of computers in business was a much bigger change since it changed
> processing from pencil and automation. Even if at home we didn't have
> a computer, we were using one at work or businesses we visited used
> one. Even if the PC never was developed, many features we see, such
> as telephone inquiry, would still have come to pass supported by
> mainframes or minis. I submit the 40th Anniversary of System/360 was
> quite significant. '

The 'escape' of the mini-computer from the research lab environment, and
into the business world, was the real '2nd revolution' -- the first being
the introduction of the mainframe into business records-keeping.

The S/360 announcement was significant, in that it committed IBM to a
long-term strategy of _compatible_ systems in increasing performance,
thus significantly reducing the 'total cost of ownership' across
several _generations_ of hardware. This made it 'feasible'
(i.e. financially practical) for a larger share of the existing
'potential customer' base to take advantage of computerization, but it
did not bring entirely new classes of customers into the market.
Which the mini-computer revolution, and the subsequent desktop
revolution _did_ do.

S/360 was a quantitative change in the markets, admittedly a
significant one, but still only quantitative.

Mini-computers, and later, desktop ones, were _qualitative_ changes in
the world of computing.

This is a significant difference.

> The upcoming 50th anniverseary of the disk drive (this Sept 2006) is
> very significant since almost everything we do would be impossible
> without random access disk memory.

ObNitPick: 'random access' and 'disk' are *NOT* synonymous. Most of
the things we do today do require random-access mass storage of some
sort, and this, as a _practical_ matter, translates to 'rotating mass
storage' of some sort. ('random access' _does_ exist on 'start/stop'
mag tape drives, although performance is, 'relatively speaking',
abysmal :) RMS can be implemented in a number of ways, only one of
which is 'disk'. Disk has a price/performance advantage over other
implementations, but to state that things would be 'impossible'
without disk is a clear overstatement. Everything we do with disks
*would* be possible with 'drum' storage, for example -- it *would* be
more expensive, but _possible_.

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