austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

When you know how to be a master

I was, yes, among those skeptical of the Macintosh when it was introduced and for awfully good reason to my twelve-year-old mind: what good was a computer you couldn't type your own programs into? I'd got myself a nice little programming library thanks to typing in programs, ranging from the word processor SpeedScript (which would serve me well in writing two unreadable Star Trek fan novels, and no you may not ever read them, and yes you should be grateful), the spreadsheet SpeedCalc (and in a mere decade I'd have something I needed a spreadsheet for), and various other things I typed in without actually learning much from seeing the programs laid bare. The best programs were in machine language anyway, so it was a matter of typing in long strings of first decimal and later hexadecimal digits, so there wasn't any learning to do. But I was suspicious of the whole 68000 microchip anyway and how you could load programs without knowing just where they'd end up in memory. That seemed dangerously random to me; how could you tell the program where to JMP (jump) or JSR (jump to subroutine) to?

Anyway, my tastes came to change, gradually at first, with repeated exposure to this New Way of doing things. By the time the 80s were out I was pretty set on the idea of computers that were just appliances, things that you used not because they were computers but because they let you do cool stuff like playing the versions of SimCity which actually ran on the Mac, or doing photo tricks, or stuff like that. It was a big change, and a good one, despite occasional (and occasionally perceptive) complaints. By the time we had the idea of the iMac in a whole five colors, which according to the computer press at the time would result in impossibly complicated manufacturing and stock-management issues, we weren't just getting computers as thing to be used, but computers as things that could be beautiful. It's going to be strange going on without one of the most persistent voices. I wonder what they'll look like in twenty more years.

By the way, my subject line today is the song ``How To Be A Master'', music by Coby Recht, lyrics by Iris Recht and George S Clinton, as seen in the techno-fascist musical The Apple (1980). I mention in case anyone wished to search for the three minutes or so of video from the movie.

Trivia: Edmond Halley discovered, in 1693, the ``secular acceleration'' of the Moon, a gradual slowing of its motion. Source: In Search of Planet Vulcan, Richard Baum, William Sheehan.

Currently Reading: The Mathematical Mechanic: Using Physical Reasoning To Solve Problems, Mark Levi.

P.S.: In Defense Of FOIL, in which I take an argument I couldn't win on its home turf somewhere I get to control the last word.

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