Caves of PC

Two Day.Pleasing breeze this morning. Gym again sparse and the podcasts acceptable if not memorable. The Guardian science podcast episode was an interview of some fellow who had written a book on radiation and based on his performance in the interview came across as rather lame and unreadable. His explanations were not inaccurate just rather Barnumish. Still he must have decent credential for the tome to be published by Princeton’s press.

So I had a bit of time to cogitate on an article [Link] that I saw yesterday entitled “All the Times Science Fiction Authors Have Shilled Random Products.” Given Lifehacker’s horrible standards of scholarship I think we can ignore the “All” as one of the egregencies of contemporary journalism. What riveted me was not the article per se, but this picture:

Somehow I managed to miss this – the holy Isaac (number 2) pandering Tandy bits. Not as bad as the holy Isaac (number 1) pandering feline sanitation products, complete with celebrity wig, but bad enough because I missed it. Or it didn’t register? Naah!

As I recall, the handheld that thI is holding was actually made by SHARP? I know I had a SHARP with exactly the same layout except the URH logoing. It was rather a disappointment. Now I had access to real (?) computers: a CDC 6600 and an HP 9830 or 9845. So I wasn’t in dire shortage of number crunching capability. So I noodled with it a bit and after a month it was back in its original box growing dust on a shelf. Couldn’t really compare to my HP calculator for utility.

I did buy a computer from Radio Shack.  It was a small thing called a Color Computer, as I recall, that programmed in BASIC. I got some limited use from but could never get the cassette deck interface to work properly. But it did get me well started on use-once-throw-away code that I somehow excelled (no pun) at. If was replaced in 1984 with an IBM PC and the parting was untearful.

Also frustrating until Phillipe Kahn, the REAL enabler of personal computing, brought out Turbo Pascal and the process of code writing ceased to be so natteringly administrative. Up to that point – this was the DOS days – you loaded a text editor, keyed some code, saved it in a file, closed the text editor, invoked the compiler (FORTRAN mostly in my case,) loaded the text editor again, looked at either the failure dump file, made notes of the relevant intelligence, closed that file, opened the code file, and modified the code,… or looked at the output file and ….

With TP all you did was load the program. Editor and compiler were built in and you stayed in the one program. Time was saved. And ulcers were minimized.

But I still don;t remember Asimov being mercantile.

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