Wednesday, August 17, 2011
But all is not rosy with this wonderful new high technology. First of all, your KayPro is a heavy sucker. You might have one of those newfangled Compaq boxes, but when Texas Instruments perfects the TI-99/4A, it's going to blow away that Compaq (why did I ever buy 100 shares at $10 a share? I must've been crazy!). The second problem is that those IBM PC's that Charlie Chaplin sells, which are the gold standard, don't have accuracy beyond 8 significant digits (you can get a co-processor that boosts that accuracy to 16 significant digits, but that's money, and who's doing higher-order regressions, anyway?)
Moore's Law has yet to really kick in. We had random access memories, but they had yet to develop amazing superpowers. Bubble memories are only a couple of years old.
Actually, that's not what was so amazing about the '80s. Steve Wozniak was one cool guy; he got a whole bunch of bands together and created the US! Festival - three days of fun in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles and west of the Joshua Trees. The Clash were there, and so was Van Halen, and I hear that U2 played an amazing set. On the other end of the country, this guy named Grandmaster Flash was doing absolutely weird things with a couple of turntables, and kids were break-dancing in the streets (did you ever think you'd see someone spin around on their heads?). Cum on, feel the noize!
One of the great MIT hacks dates back about ten years, when the first voice recognition software was introduced. Supposedly (and I was not there to witness it, so I am going strictly on news reports), the software was being demonstrated before a rapt audience, when a lone voice in the audience barked out, "Format C, Enter!" It was followed almost immediately by a second voice in the audience, "Yes, Enter!" The software worked perfectly.