January 2010


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Apple will be the death of tinkerers

When someone else has said something, and said it well, by all means plagiarize!

Dive Into Mark has a great post up currently lamenting the way Apple has eliminated the ability to tinker with your own computer compared to how things were back in the day. It turns out Mark is the same age as me, with a lot of the same early computer experiences, so I can quite clearly sympathize. To quote:

As it happens, this computer came with the BASIC programming language pre-installed. You didn’t even need to boot a disk operating system. You could turn on the computer and press Ctrl-Reset and you’d get a prompt. And at this prompt, you could type in an entire program, and then type RUN, and it would motherfucking run.

I was 10. That was 27 years ago, but I still remember what it felt like when I realized that you — that I — could get this computer to do anything by typing the right words in the right order and telling it to RUN and it would motherfucking run.

That computer was an Apple ][e.

[snip]…Apple made the machines that made me who I am. I became who I am by tinkering.

The first computer I got the chance to dink around with was a Radio Shack TRS-80 back in the 3rd grade. It had a little spiral-bound instruction manual with the fundamentals of BASIC inscribed within, and it took me a solid 2 days to figure out that to get the double-quotes symbol, you had to press Function instead of Shift plus the appropriate key.

By the time I was in 5th grade, me and my buddy Richard were programming a character generator program for Dungeons & Dragons, complete with money tracking and the entire shopping section. And it motherfucking ran.

That computer was an Apple ][e.

Anyway, Mark’s post is about how hard it is with today’s Apple computers to break into being a developer – it costs real money to get started, and even then you are saddled with limitations, where back when Mark and I were scribbling out our first “Hello Worlds!” all it took was a willingness to try something new.

The world needs places where kids can try something new, and it is no longer the Apple computer.


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