1996-12-07 - Re: The Science Generations

Header Data

From: Dale Thorn <dthorn@gte.net>
To: Bill Frantz <frantz@netcom.com>
Message Hash: 5eaeef1ede7ddaaef1cf4b5470243de536eecc9055ca964b783c0c78273b9ba8
Message ID: <32A8E900.6F37@gte.net>
Reply To: <199612061858.KAA22343@netcom7.netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1996-12-07 03:54:14 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 19:54:14 -0800 (PST)

Raw message

From: Dale Thorn <dthorn@gte.net>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 19:54:14 -0800 (PST)
To: Bill Frantz <frantz@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: The Science Generations
In-Reply-To: <199612061858.KAA22343@netcom7.netcom.com>
Message-ID: <32A8E900.6F37@gte.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Bill Frantz wrote:
> At  1:12 AM 12/6/96 -0800, Dale Thorn wrote:
> >I would guess that those who became and remained successful technically
> >(as opposed to becoming "business people") were using HP computers and
> >such in the 1970s.  I for one was a heavy user then, and PETs, Apples,
> >Radio Shack, etc. computers weren't reliable enough for serious work.

> I guess those people using VisiCalc on the Apple ][ weren't doing serious
> work :-).  (Also the many small businesses using these early machines for
> AR, Accounting etc.)  Me, I was doing OS programming on IBM 370s.

Let's talk about some real data processing.  dBase II on CP/M computers
(or certain proprietary hardware with adaptor cards), circa 1980-1982,
would be a good example.  If you had the right stuff, say, an HP-120 or
HP-125, or even an 80 series with the adaptor, and HP floppy drives, you
could process all day long for (years?) with scarcely a hitch.  You try
to put something like that on an Apple II with Apple floppies (using
whatever software was available), and you couldn't do the job.  The
machine and/or drives would quit in a few days, if not the first day,
and might even erase your diskettes in the process (a common occurrence
in those days).

In early 1985, just for fun, I had an HP-71 pocket computer hooked up to
a LaserJet printer and a couple of HP portable floppies, and printed my
store's databases on it.  Multiple indexes, thousands of records, each
index printed complete every day in separate copies for each salesman.
I wouldn't dream of trying that with an IBM or Apple floppy system.

Hard disks?  I *never* heard of an HP microcomputer hard disk crash in
those days, short of dropping the computer onto the floor while writing
a file.  We used to pull the wall plugs on our HP's while writing to a
file, with no bad effect.  Try that on an IBM or Apple circa <= 1985.

Computer hardware?  One thing I enjoyed doing for customers was pulling
a RAM card out of an HP-86 while it was running a program, then forcing
the card back into the slot.  Usually pulling the card had no effect,
then, putting it back in would generally reset the program.
Surge protectors?  Never sold one.  Not needed with HP's then.

An Apple II (like the other toy computers from 1975 to 1982) was a
hobbyist computer, which required frequent cleaning and scrubbing
internally to keep it running.  A pencil eraser was a common tool...

And let's not forget Apple and IBM attitudes: When I had HP's, if I ever
needed service, HP did it themselves, professionally (using static mats
etc.) and promptly.  You wouldn't find Apple or IBM offering to repair
their own microcomputers in those days (or ever).  For good reason!

Cost of service?  HP's contracts were usually 3% to 5% of the item cost
per year, compared to the "industry standard" of 15%.  Not a bad deal.