File extensions, was: Re: [Coco] Portal-9 bug report
keeper63 at cox.net
Tue Oct 19 14:20:58 EDT 2004
I wanted to "chime in" on this topic:
I personally think we geeks dropped the ball somewhere (or more likely,
had it stolen from us by marketing dweebs), in the rush to get ordinary
joes interested in using and abusing *the* most complicated machines
I guess the money-men saw oppourtunity, and couldn't resist.
Up until Doze'95 - there was a gradual progression in knowledge. To use
a computer, you had to have some basic knowledge. You didn't need to
know how to code on it, or even its internals (though I still think such
things should be mandatory knowledge - just like I think you should know
the inner workings of an automobile, at least the basics - of course,
that's just my prejudice as a coder coming through). But still...
I started my computer quest with a Color Computer 2 - I remember sitting
around with my dad typing in Color Basic programs from the manual (and
learning that you couldn't just space over to the next line - doh! -
that's what the ENTER key is for!). Other than playing Canyon Climber
and Reactoid (love that game!) - to do anything with the computer, you
had to program it.
This was true of many computers of the era - but there was wealth of
software to buy, so you didn't *have* to know how to code. But, you
still had to know how much memory you had, whether you had a disk drive,
etc. Byte Magazine was a *real* computer magazine.
Time went on, and you still had to know a lot. DOS, interrupts,
AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, hard drive space, speed of machine, etc (and
tons of other things in the Amiga world, and on Macs, etc).
I remember, just prior to Win95 the activity going on in DOS - there was
a magazine, called "Maximum DOS" - that taught numerous DOS tricks,
batch file tricks, etc. It was really the only "coding" magazine around
still, outside of Dr. Dobb's - some of those batch files were *huge*.
These were "programs" being made by normal people to help other people
in day-to-day DOS tasks. Others newbies to DOS would use them, type them
in, and experiment - and eventually get curious, and learn more about
them. Some started messing with QBASIC and Debug. I imagine more than a
few got into programming through that progression.
Then Win95 hit. DOS batch files weren't as important anymore - QBASIC
was relegated to another folder on the CD, not installed by default
(along with Debug). Today, I don't even think you get any sort of
programming environment free with Doze (well, batch files may still run,
The progression should have continued, not ended. But instead, many
people are scared or mystified as to what a computer is, what it does,
and how it works. Many would be surprised if it was explained to them in
simple terms - that a computer (well, a CPU at least) is nothing more
than a very big, very fast player piano with a very long roll of notes.
Of course, most people now don't even know how a player piano works
It is just something that continues to bother me - we have given the
most advanced form of machinery known to man to ordinary people, but
they haven't the slightest clue (most of them) as to how it really
works. The sad fact is that computers are simplistic machines, with a
very simple architecture. But this is rapidly changing, too. We are
already beginning to see the start of parallel processing architecture
creep into joe user's machine...
We have lost joe user - to him, the machine is magic - and we are the
wizards controlling them. Unfortunately, we have many who practice on
the "dark side", and don't give a care about joe's data...
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