Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 117 / FEBRUARY 1990 / PAGE 135


Glamour, Glitz, and Glory


Gone are the days of the hobbyist, the hacker, the guru, the nerd. Before us lie the nineties, a new decade of issues, buzzwords, and computer happeings. What sound odd today will be old stuff in a few years. When the twenty-first century dawns we'll look back on the nineties with wonder and tell tales of that decade's glamour biz. We'll remember:

Exciting philosophical issues, like how Commodore/Atari zealots gained legal status as a religious cult and, therefore, were protected by law from DOS/Mac/Next deprogramming methods known as real world training.

Or when eyeglass monitors came equipped with an LED so that the boss could tell whether subordinates were working or sleeping.

And how the trend toward portability died when Ashton-Tate put a Handy Tote handle on its 47-pound dBase VIII package and Egghead installed customer forklifts.

Not to mention how the personal computer craze nearly crashed when a philosophical tome written by the most advanced computer neural network system of 1999 was published under the title The Ultimate Peripheral: Your Head

And don't forget the ground-breaking legal issues, like the major defect in hard drive auto-spring-loaded-eject systems (standard in most 1998 PCs) that brought a rash of suits from users suffering severe chest bruises.

Or the Columbian government's suit against the manufacturer of the coffeeproof keyboard.

And the suit brought by Denny's against Apple Computer for borrowing its menu-with-pictures metaphor.

Or the Apple suit against the state of Washington for unrestricted use of its own state fruit.

And, last but not least, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that IBM owns the English alphabet but Lotus retains the rights to all the spelling in perpetuity.

We'll look back on the common complaints from the year 1996: "I just can't live with this 256-character-filename limit!"

"This Portable Mac IIxvcr must have been designed by a weightlifter! At two pounds, it's killing my kneecaps!"

"Eighty bucks for a gigabyte of RAM! These people must think I'm crazy to ask that!"

"This word processing software is a joke! Not only does it lack its own UNIX-like programming language, it doesn't even have a hard disk unformatting feature."

"It just goes to show you: I spent six years learning the C language and they come out with D."

"This program requires six megs just to load! I remember when you could write a decent program in only 1.5 megs of RAM."

"I need a new graphics board. This SPQRVGA card only has a 5 × 5 meg pixel grid and a paltry 4 trillion colors. It doesn't even do holography"

"This software would be easier to use if it didn't rely so much on the Alt-Shift-F91 key combination."

"We need to find a better way to interface humans and computers. This stupid bioconnector keeps slipping out of my ear.

"It just goes to show you: I spent four years learning the D language and they come out with E."

"The batteries in this laptop are useless! How can I get any work done on the moon shuttle with only 29 hours of power?"

"It just goes to show you: I spent six months learning the E language and they come out with F."

We'll hear the echoes of the buzzwords and phrases from around the house in the year 1998. "Look, dear! I found your laptop here behind the sofa cushion."

"Honey, did you see the keys to my i986?"

"Mom! The toaster won't boot."

"I didn't buy a $9,000 HDTV for you to hook up your Tandy Color Computer 8 to it."

"Billy's been using the laser printer all morning—tell him to get off."

"Honey, I can't find the Honda's boot disk."

"Hardly a day will pass when we don't look back on all the other happenings that made the nineties so exciting. Like in 1991, when PC computers stopped snorting and beeping and began to warble and yawn instead.

And the computer-store headache pill, perfected in 1992, became available in three strengths: beta, 1.0, and mail order.

And how bright, snappilydressed, attractive women finally constituted, in 1997, a majority in the personal computer world.

Or when the last WordStar holdout converted to WordPerfect in 1998 but continued to lament the loss of his beloved cursor-key diamond.

And who can forget when the "real world" was discovered in 1999, but wanted nothing to do with us?