Smell the Honeysuckle, Part II

To recap … in a decade or two, the “Central Processing” model i.e. dumb terminals connected to mainframe computers was augmented (like it or not) by the Personal Computer, a.k.a. distributed processing. Voila — we have a networked world.

Let’s take a little bit deeper dive into the history of all this. If it’s not super important, it does provide color to the story (even though the powers-that-be prefer grey).

Every computer requires an operating system or an O/S. Take my word for this. If you want to know more about the specifics, Google it. It’s not crucial for this little riff, and it’s not nearly as much fun as what I am going to tell you next.

As I heard the story, the guy who wrote or at least owned an operating system called CP/M (Control Program for Microcomputers), is a gent named Gary Kildall. His company was called Digital Research (originally incorporated as “Intergalactic Digital Research,” which may go back to the whole “we don’t really worry about the carrot-tinged…” thing — who knows). In any case, if it hadn’t been for the fact that Gary Kildall wanted to go sailing one particular day about thirty five years ago, Microsoft could have turned out to be a footnote in computing history.

The story goes like this. The White Shirted Crowd from IBM flies from Boca Raton (Florida) or maybe it was Armonk (New York) to the West Coast, and they need an operating system for their new personal computer and they need it now!

Maybe Kildall is a counter-culture San Francisco type who thinks — let them eat brownies (or maybe, where else are they going to go?), I am going sailing.

Team White Shirt says, “We ain’t waiting around — there is some kid named Bill up in Seattle and he and his buddy Paul Allen know lots about these personal computers too. Turns out that Gates goes to a good private school and his dad is a banker (lawyer?) and they have caged lots of computing time on a time share, and they spend like hours and hours and hours — with no showers) but they know their computers. Team White Shirts (blue and yellow came later) says “Let’s go.” They charter a plane and head north to find Gates.

Every the entrepreneur, Gates says, “I have exactly what you need. Wait right there.” He may not have exactly “had” what they needed right at the moment, but he knew who did and acquires an O/S from somebody else, and is back in a figurative flash. With DOS 2.1, IBM’s personal computer is off to a fortuitous start. So too is Microsoft. Now that there is an operating system, there is a market for personal computer software. Oh Goody! says people like WordPerfect and Lotus and VisiCalc and WordStar and Flight Simulator and and and!

Fast forward to 2014. Things have gotten smaller and a LOT faster and more powerful. If a Ferrari cost $250K in 1980, you would be buying it for like a dime right now … comparatively speaking.

Well, now  almost everyone is carrying a computer they think is a phone. Which it is … sort of. A “Smart Phone” is really a computer that has a communications app (we’ve come a long way from the acoustic coupler)  and a dialer, and a number of other important and useful apps (like Joann’s coupons) as well.

Acoustic coupler

The gadget on the far left is called an acoustic coupler. It is a predecessor to the Smart Phone, only slower. A LOT slower.

Do you see where we are going here?

Do you get it?

We started with mainframe computers, and in a decades or so,  we got distributed computing, and that “democratized access to computing.”

Now, everybody has a gazillion times more computing power in their pocket than multi-national corporations had forty years ago. Hence the transition from Hub and Spoke computing to Distributed Computing can be incredibly liberating.

If you have an MBA, think of it as “Disruptive” or (cringe) “Creative Destruction” — now, can you guess what Solar brings to the table?

You are a SMART READER — of course … Distributed Generation of Power — or “We are like ‘this close’ to democratizing access to energy.”

next … the history of power and its future — the rise of the eco-modernists! Mark my words (you heard it here first) it’s going to be a whole new political party. Heaven knows, we certainly need something other than what we’ve got!

Come back soon, and tell your friends!

Grandpa Whittles (failed democrat, republican who knows better,  independent in search of sensible leadership!)

P.S. Go to HeyGrandpa.com if you want to download a free chapter of my book — Hey Grandpa, Part I. It’s not terrible. And … you’ll get to see a picture of me at 17!

 

 

6 Comments on "Smell the Honeysuckle, Part II"

  1. Brilliant! Well written and engaging. I give it 4 popcorn boxes out of four

    • Thanks — whenever a Professor (you) approves of the writing of a High School Grad (that sure was a long time ago), well, if I still had a chest, I would just about burst my buttons!

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