Assuming that x86 CISC is faster and cheaper
than RISC, and consumer hardware has completely
outstripped high-performance specialized
computing hardware, we should be sad.
This means no one is doing research on
entirely new sorts of things that people can
have at home.
It means the child ate his mother.
Oh, but what home computer, so fantastic as
it is, possibily want from high performance
Why not just kill it off?
In the past we got from the workstation
GL 3D graphics acceleration; floating point
processors; memory management units; and
they popularized the GUI, Ethernet,
multiheaded systems, remote access, TCP/IP,
and, of course, Unix.
Without workstations, we
probably never would have thought to add any
of this to our computers.
There wouldn't be a demonstrated use for it,
as mass produced consumer hardware doesn't
get new features unless there's a demonstrated
use and demand for it.
The only thing the home computer has done is
make innovation affordable and faster -
more RAM; more disc; faster 3D; faster
This brings me to Apple.
Apple, being relatively high-end, has
thus far pushed innovation.
They introduced firewire, demonstrating
the utility of high-speed serial networking
and it's application to video editing.
Before then, PC video capture devices were
unusable, and no one was talking about
streamlining interfacing camcorders to
Apple also had external drives (SCSI)
ages before PCs did, and they brought
dual CPU systems into the home.
Without that, BIOS makers wouldn't have
seen the utility of booting from USB
devices (which were external harddrives
at the time), and then the whole flash
keychain dongle revolution never would
You might argue that Apple will continue
to innovate - and indeed they might.
Switching to x86 alone doesn't kill innovation
(despite historical evidence).
However, the reasons that prompt a company
to switch to x86 often do kill innovation.
The companies want to lower costs and go
mainstream -- Apple, in this case, is
trying to more directly take on Microsoft's
market (Jobs said as part of his speech
he's ready to go after Microsoft).
That means getting rid of a lot of that
overhead associated with doing things
differently (heh, think different my ass).
It means streamlining production and not
offering things that can't demonstrate to
pay for themselves.
It means cutting R&D off at the knees - just
like HP recently did.
And Apple has been having such great luck
recently with just development (programming),
why bother with research?
Jobs said that the spirit of Apple lives in
the operating system -- he wasn't saying that
right before he ditched MacOS9.
It sounds an awful lot like Apple doesn't want
to be Apple any more.
And with things like the iPod, they don't
need to be the Apple of yore.
The problem is, no one wants to be who they
were - Sun doesn't want to make
they want to sell x86 boxen and peddle
Java related goods.
IBM doesn't want to computers so much as
they want to make guts for gamesystems
(IBM, go ask Motorola how that went for them
Everyone else - SGI, HP (including Compaq
and Digital), etc - just want to be resellers
for Intel now.
No high-end workstations means power-users
aren't dabbling with companies ideas of the
future and thereby supporting research.
And of course we can't afford the quarter
million dollar RISC starter systems that
IBM, SGI, and Sun sell (okay, Sun is still
a little better).
It's impossible to imagine what the future
would have brought us if we hadn't killed the
But now what do we get?
Will Intel give us innovation? They're
offering us DRM - ooh, yippie.
What about Gateway? Gateway Country and
Windows ME - super, thanks.
We've fucked ourselves.
We have no where to turn to.
And the few players left -- the ones
everyone delegated everything to --
are becoming increasingly hostile
to hobbyists who want to innovate
is innovating more than the lot of them,
and the way we treat Cray, do we deserve it?
Will we even manage to keep them around?
Of course, all of this is the result of
turning the computing experience into a
mechanically produced, canned product for
old people and record industry execs,
cynically writing off the future as
disinteresting or not immediately marketable.
You think HP's Carly Fiorina was bad?
Well, Carly's views are about the same as
the rest of the industry-exects -- short-sell
P.S.: I'm leaving comments in search of sympathy
and insight even though I've never in my
life seen a worthwhile comment anywhere.
Since I tend to berate commenters, I suggest
you not post unless you're ready to be berated.