"We can't stop here! This is Penguin Country!"

I Give Up: Civilization Is A Bust. Quick, Back To The Caves!

Date/Time Permalink: 02/04/09 01:03:15 am
Category: Humor

I'm going to have to assume from now on that the audience I'm blogging for simply hasn't been born yet. So, to the Internet archaeologists of 1000 years from now:

I'm sorry, I failed to bring the human race to terms with computers. But just look at what I had to work with! You see, I have a handicap. I don't have Alzheimer's disease.

In my time, virtually everyone else had Alzheimer's. That's why they couldn't remember anything that happened before breakfast. Being in a continuous state of having a fresh reboot several times each day, most everybody was quite happy, because they couldn't remember any problems they'd ever had. Everybody was equal, because nobody could keep a train of thought going long enough to learn anything. There was no such thing as history, so every time anybody tried anything, it was always the very first time and the results were a complete surprise, which was talked about briefly and promptly forgotten.

Take for instance, the blog post over at DaniWeb, titled "Are You Smart Enough To Use Linux?" The author, heedless of the thousands of tropes that have gone before, picks Linux Blogging Trope #6: That Linux will never be mainstream because it's too difficult to learn.

What is easy to learn? Windows, he says! Yes, scientists have examined the DNA molecule and discovered that the manual for Microsoft products are woven right into the Deoxyribonucleic friggin' acid, so that babies are born knowing how to do everything on Windows. So learning was not an issue to Windows adoption, it is assumed.

See, here's the things relating to this claim that I, alone, am cursed to know about, because I am immune to Alzheimer's:

  • Bill Gates didn't invent the computer.
  • People used computers for years before Microsoft existed.
  • Computers were a mainstream consumer item, sold at the mall and advertised on TV, before Microsoft Windows came out.
  • Computer operating systems that predated Windows include...

MIT's operating system made for UNIVAC 1103, General Motors Operating System made for IBM 701, GM-NAA I/O for IBM 704, based on General Motors Operating System, SHARE Operating System, based on GM-NAA I/O, IBSYS, CTSS, MCP (Burroughs Large Systems), GCOS, EXEC 8, OS/360 (Announced), TOPS-10, Dartmouth Time Sharing System, Multics, OS/360, Tape Operating System (TOS), DOS/360 (IBM), MS/8, ACP (IBM), CP/CMS, ITS, WAITS, TSS-8 (PDP-8), THE multiprogramming system, TENEX, Unix, RC 4000 Multiprogramming System, Multics, DOS-11 (PDP-11), RSTS-11 2A-19, OS/8, MFT, MVT, RDOS, SVS, VM/CMS, Alto OS, RSX-11D, RT-11, VME, MVS (MVS/XA), DOS-11 V09-20C, SINTRAN III, BS2000, CP/M, TOPS-20, Cray Operating System, FLEX, TRS-DOS, Virtual Memory System (VMS), Apple DOS, HDOS 1.0, TripOS, UCSD p-System, Lisp Machine (CADR), Atari DOS, POS, NLTSS, OS-9, 86-DOS, SOS, Pilot (Xerox Star operating system).

  • All of these systems had to be learned, and people learned them, because they all had at least one user.
  • When Microsoft Windows came out, people had just as much difficulty learning it as they had had with any other operating system.

See, I can't get anybody to believe me on this. Nobody else's memory goes back as far as the early 1990s, and so they don't remember that in the beginning on Windows you had to deal with things like:

  • DOS
  • Norton Commander
  • PIF files
  • Setting up programs to Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR)
  • A:\ drive, B:\ drive, C:\ drive
  • going into 386 enhanced mode
  • downloading and figuring out what to do with new DLL files
  • setting up a dial-up connection
  • Archie, Veronica, Gopher, Network Neighborhood, telnet
  • installing DirectDraw for the first time
  • editing batch (.BAT) files
  • editing AUTOEXEC.BAT
  • editing various .INI files
  • confronting the scary dialog of a Dr. Watson window reporting a problem

AND YET... with all of this, Windows 3.1 was shipped worldwide on April 6, 1992, and reached three million sales two months later. The year of Windows 3.1's release was successful for Microsoft, who were named the "Most Innovative Company Operating in the U.S." by Forbes Magazine.

How can that be? Well, back in the 1990s, nobody had Alzheimer's yet. So all the things that made Microsoft Windows difficult to learn didn't stop it from taking over the desktop market overnight.

It all went out the door! Bugs, flaws, complicated text editing and command lines and security holes and all. It never slowed Windows down by a fraction. People ran out and got it and... cried for help. IDG Books published "DOS for Dummies" in 1991 and "Windows for Dummies" in 1993 and this last title went on to sell 11,000,000 copies. That's right, eleven million people actually did what you're never supposed to tell a Linux newbie to do: They Read The Fine Manual.

People cannot remember this, and so they state with desk-pounding confidence that being too hard to learn is stopping people from using Linux.

Knowing all of this, I am today not believed. No one believes this. I would link, I would post pictures... oh, God, don't you future archaeologists think I tried to link to references and citations and posted photographs before? I linked until my keyboard broke in half. It's no use.

If any future sentient beings out there find this, take a lesson from what became of the human race. Don't let it happen to your civilization. Oh, and watch out for that radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain. We made an uh-oh there.

message on the beach being washed away

Ooooh, alright, one link: "New Interface Dilemmas" from PC Magazine, July 1992. Which doesn't exist, because nobody remembers it, and because I am making it up. How could the adoption of Windows have been anything but 100% problem-free? Preposterous!

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