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Re: "Digital Dark Age"

In a message dated 2/14/99 11:02:02 AM Pacific Standard Time,
malcolm@UPTONS.NET writes:

<< Then why did businesses buy PCs that weren't backwards compatible with
 mainframe systems? >>

See my response to Dennis  for more on this, but to answer you directly.

1) it would have been completely impossible to buy PC's compatable with the
mainframes because the mainframes were all proprietary.

2) From their experience with mainframes Corporate Information Specialists
were extremely aware of the costs associated with any proprietary computer
architecture. Only one of the costs of the proprietary systems was their lack
of a standardized storage medium. For CIS folks it was burned once twice shy.

3) At their heyday there were only thousands of mainframes. The PC has an
incrediably hugh installed base today and growing fast. As I have stated over
and over again, it is this installed base that starts changing the dynamics of
things. If there had been 100 million mainframes all running the same
Operating System then the PC outcome would have been different than it was.

4) Perhaps it is that in today's culture people just don't realize the
importance of a number like 100 million.  What's another 100 million.  If an
evil empire (Jerry Fawell-Teletubbies?) took over the United States and
declared PC's to be illegal pornographic machines, ownership of which was
punishable by prison, they couldn't find all the 100 million machines already
out there in a hundred years.

5) How large of an installed base does it take to instill confidence in
longterm continuity?  200 million, 500 million, a billion?  When there are a
billion PC's all equiped with CD-ROM readers will that give you the confidence
that in a hundred years that somebody could get one to read a funky old CD-ROM
that their great- great -grandfather put together? I'm betting that out of
those billion PC's a good number will remain serviceable even a hundred years
from today.  It might be necessary to go to the antique computer store or
vintage computer club, but the basic CD-ROM equiped computer of today will not
suddenly disapear from the face of the earth in the next hundred years. There
simply isn't enough landfill area for them all.
dt fletcher

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