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07 Mar, 2023
I read a lot of tech history. Just this year I’ve wrapped up the founding of Compaq, microcomputers in 80’s Britain and am about done reading a very thorough history of Commodore (pre-Amiga, that’s book number 2 😉).
It probably sounds crazy to the unimaginative mind but I often get quite jealous, not so much nostalgic, of those who were able to experience the heydey of the microcomputer boom. Not because of any future riches (most companies went bust or were gobbled up on the cheap) but the fact that these computers (either assembled from a kit, pre-built or built from scratch) were a foundation, not a pre-packaged experience. The word “Liberating” comes to mind.
Not only did people no longer have to pay for the use of a computer (notice how we’ve already gone full circle here with “cloud computing?”) but these could sit in their homes. They could be extended, tweaked, optimized, bent and on and on. A working embodiment of the individual, not the corporation.
What does it even mean to “compute” these days? Consume? Already a generation is growing up never once having to open up their device to fix or install new hardware. Even Linux has much better hardware support and flashy UI’s out of the box. More often than not, they are handed the “experience” and sold a “lifestyle” to which there is no VIP backstage access.
I think often about the “low-tech/high-tech” (for lack of a better word) in Star Wars. All their devices seem to be very focused, highly repairable and interoperable. Anyone can hit up the Jawas and find a part to fix this or that and most seem to have enough knowledge to go it alone without needing to chase down a warranty or sit on an AppleCare line to be told it’s “no longer supported” or… god forbid… “VINTAGE.”