Re: Commoditization and planned obsolescence

From: Justin <>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2011 10:04:35 -0400
Message-Id: <>
I don't think it is planned obsolescence, it is just a faster evolving ecosystem.  It's no different than the higher relative rate of evolution in bacteria vs large multicellular organisms.  I don't think this is a bad thing to be railed against.  They are small and cheap and the race to build a better one is better for the consumer and more engaging for engineers.

Even the best smart-phone equivalents from several years ago are so limited that almost no amount of heroic coding could get a modern mobile OS running on them.  I don't think it was the stability and continuity in older 8 but machines that keeps the romance alive - a harder look at Commodore, Apple, etc reveals endless dead end products in that time period as well.  I think the romance comes from the machines being right at the threshold where a single person can reasonably understand in detail how the entire system works from end to end.  You can sit down and learn how the SID and VIC and 65xx chips work, and mentally build out the system from there.  Modern hardware and software have vastly greater complexity and that is less possible.  

That fact that it is a moving target with lots of different configurations also deters the kind of romance we get from playing with old 8 bit systems.  If you create a cool product like say the 1541U, you have a market of millions of machines, with thousands of users, so you know that your hack can be appreciated by others.  But if you create something great for some old Compaq or the like, or a really esoteric machine like an Apple III, you've either got potential compatibility issues in the former case, or way too small a potential market to share it in the latter... It is an accident of history that things like the 1541U work on Commodore products other than the 64. Even when we are giving a piece of software away, most of the time it's much more engaging and rewarding to actually have other people appreciate it.  That is more or less the main reason this list exists.


On Nov 1, 2011, at 9:44, Marko Mäkelä <> wrote:

> On Tue, Nov 01, 2011 at 01:04:52PM +0100, Didier Derny wrote:
>> At that time the computer had some "genius", there was always something new. It was a pleasure to use them, and program them, they had their own soul
>> It's not the case of the stupid PCs
>> What's the use of a PC ? install a compiler to write a emulation for a commodore :)
> This commoditization started from personal computers in the 1990s, and now it is arriving to mobile phones. It is not necessarily a bad thing.  The bad thing is the throw-away mentality. Nobody is expected to use an electronic gadget for more than a couple of years. This "planned obsolescence" really sucks. I refuse to pay for a mobile phone until someone makes a durable model where I can install whatever operating system version I please. I got my current 9-year-old handset for free a few years ago when the previous owner upgraded.
> With Linux, you can easily achieve 5 or even 10 years of useful service life from a commodity PC. My living room PC is ugly but works, running Debian Linux and VDR (DVB-T set-top-box software) on 128MB of RAM and 400GB hard disk. I bought it second-hand in 2003. I think that it is from 2001. I only have replaced faulty capacitors on the motherboard, installed a DVB-T tuner card and upgraded the hard disk a few times. If the hardware fails, I might consider replacing it with a cheap proprietary set-top-box that has a USB connector for storage. But it will be a hard choice.
>    Marko
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Received on 2011-11-01 15:00:14

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