|The Dream of Computing for Everyone|
|By Howard Fosdick on 2012-08-27 13:53:48|
|The dream of inexpensive computing for everyone has been with us since
the first computers. Along the way it has taken some unexpected turns.
This article summarizes key trends and a few of the surprises.|
|Smartphones are not new.|
|By spiderman on 2012-08-28 06:38:27|
I know it's the trend to talk about "smartphones" as if it was a revolution but it's not. Actually the concept of smartphone is a marketing term used by some manufacturers to advert and differentiate their products but in reality, it's just the high end class of phones. This class has existed for more than a decade. in 2000 we were surfing the web in text mode over the wap, i-mode, etc... and we were using J2ME applications for everything. This class of phones has been sold by billions since a long time ago. There were like 100 phones for 1 PC in 2000. I'd even say there are LESS phones sold these days than there were in 2005. |
So modern "smartphones" are far more capable than the previous ones, that is true but the previous ones still qualify as computers or the Apple II does not.
|- Score: 6|
|By matako on 2012-08-28 07:22:27|
When we are talking "everyone" I always think about those who may find smaller devices less comfortable or even impossible to use. |
You do not have to be impaired in any way to see that even a best laptop computer is in fact not something a physician would recommend for extended use ... let alone smaller devices. ;)
|- Score: 1|
|RE: Everything can be a computer|
|By zima on 2012-08-28 07:37:04|
> We started off with computers that were the size of buildings that only a government at war could require. |
Not really exclusively such. Building-scale computers were very limited in spread, and showing up a bit later than the very beginnings: Z3 or Colossus were between the size of a wall unit (or few wardrobes) and a small room (plus at least Z3 looks like it could be made by a dedicated individual backed by some patron - and indeed, that's basically how Z2 was made).
Many other machines from that time were similar, the wardrobes-room size seems like it was more typical generally, also in the ~50s. I suppose the most-publicised ENIAC really fitted the "building" (and cost) perception, hence established it in public imagination over the decades...
Overall, history wasn't so "linear" like you painted it, in the march towards "embedded" - don't forget that the first x86 CPUs (or generally the first microprocessors) were meant more exactly for such scenarios (and, ironically, first ARMs were for desktop machines).
BTW, reminded me about one Wiki art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mic... - how we apparently predicted that a central computer will control the home and its appliances ...only, we failed to anticipate that connections and software will be the really expensive and/or hard part - meanwhile, the computer quickly became so inexpensive that each appliance can have one, with a bonus of keeping the software single-purpose & easy (and we still didn't really manage to tackle the issue of interoperation).
By my rough estimate, there are around 20 processors in the room I'm sitting in ...and only one PC.
|- Score: 6|
|By zima on 2012-08-28 07:44:46|
Actually, I stumbled once on some research seriously exploring, from a medical standpoint, the ergonomics of computer usage - and the laptop turned out to be fabulous, enabling a position with very little strain in extended usage... |
...which was nothing like people often use computers, on a ~desk - basically, it was a half-lying position with gently bent knees, all supported by pillows or some such.
Edited 2012-08-28 07:47 UTC
|- Score: 4|
|By matako on 2012-08-28 07:49:06|
Hh, interesting... could be! Laptops are indeed very flexible as far as the posture goes. |
But personally I find laptop displays just too small and positioned too low (too close to the keyboard). It is a strain. And a laptop with a extremely big display or external monitor is not really a laptop anymore.
Edited 2012-08-28 07:51 UTC
|- Score: 1|
|By zima on 2012-08-28 08:01:23|
> Smartphones real ancestors are certainly the programmable pocket calculators (HP, TI, Casio, Sharp...) which ran all sorts of applications and were quite popular in the '70s and the '80s |
I'd disagree with that - programmability of those is fairly limited (especially '70s models...), and ultimately they were not that different from their simpler siblings, very "focused" on the same kind of usage scenarios.
Meanwhile, the essence of a smartphone seems to be a convergence kind of device, and keeping track of more "soft" and "human" matters - therefore, I believe that more deserving of "smartphones real ancestors" are such smartwatches from the '80s: http://pocketcalculatorshow.com/... (tracing their ancestry to calculator watches hence also electronic calculators - still, a different lineage from scientific ones)
Their main problem seemed to be that a watch is simply the wrong form factor for such functionality - which was later solved by the synthesis of "mini tablet" PDA with mobile phone.
|- Score: 2|
|RE: Office vs personal|
|By zima on 2012-08-28 08:27:50|
In shorter timeframes you might have a point, but as integration increases that's not really how tech evolves - it does tend to give much more for much less, over generations. |
Electronic calculators or even pendrives were a big deal not a long time ago - and they can be quite easily found as freebies now, and certainly for the price of a lunch. DAPs similarly (quite expensive, unwieldy and limited a decade ago - but now few lunches give a very small and capable unit). Present sub-$100 no-contract smarpthones are already much nicer than an order of magnitude more expensive (then) decade-old ones - and still only revving up their economies scale (some of their characteristics should ease further lowering of prices - for one, much simpler mechanically than "classic" mobile phones, basically just a screen)
BTW, $20 is not the true price of OSX - it's basically subsidised by hardware sales. Also, Linux is used by most smartphones... (and not a long time from now, most likely the same for tablets)
|- Score: 3|
|Comment by kovacm|
|By kovacm on 2012-08-28 09:12:34|
all this was obviously for years... for anybody who watching evolution of home computers starting with early 80s ;) |
anyway, good article :)
|- Score: 2|
|Comment by clasqm|
|By clasqm on 2012-08-28 09:28:37|
"The first big step toward computing for everyone occurred in the late 1970s with the wide popularity of the Apple II and TRS-80." |
That is a rather US-centric POV. Elsewhere, the Sinclair ZX-series and the BBC Micro ruled the roost. And let's not forget the Atari/Amiga wars slightly later.
|- Score: 2|
|RE: Smartphones are not new.|
|By clasqm on 2012-08-28 09:31:42|
|As an ex-user of Psion PDA's and Nokia 9000-series Communicators I'd have to agree. There is simply no decisive changeover point between a "featurephone" and a "smartphone".|
|- Score: 3|