Saturday, December 8, 2007

IT pop culture - Caught On Video!

From the 70's to present day this is what has made this industry into what it is today. Here it is in a heart beat:

In the 70's the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, featuring HAL, captured on film what people were imagining the future to be like. All because a new invention was here that promised to greatly change how man viewed itself. The ending of the movie by the way sucked, but it was fitting. Soon after, everyone became suspicious and interested on what the new frontier awaits...Engage

Now finding ourselves in the 80's...It was the nerds from "Revenge of the Nerds" that captured everyone's heart, and fittingly the industry was all about Comp.Sci. developing raw unadulterated processing power! After all, who could not love the advent of the 007 style wrist watch calculator! The whiz kid had also been born in such movies as WarGames and the crap that was Tron. After watching the trailer to WarGames I'm reminded that somethings never change, like how even today kids are still trying to find sneaky ways to change their grades with a computer. Oh, and who can forget the downfall of IBM and...the rise of Apple? I guess Microsoft crashed the party and spiked the punch with its cheap beer called DOS...Engage(again, but with the next generation)

In the 90's the mystery began to fade, and the average family home begun to make their first purchase of a computer and a dot matrix printer. The early 90's was all about the transition to the next faze of computing. The graphical user interface. The Mac had started it all with the mouse and Mac OS, but its tight grip on its development process did not stand a chance at the market the PC was opening itself up to. The PC with MS DOS and Windows 3.1 in hand, was where the masses gathered. The masses liked its relatively low price at the time, and the commoditization that was occurring. I think the video that most represents what was happening in this era is a video called "Don't Copy That Floopy". Sneaker-net was alive and well. In the next part of the decade we'll see how we can thank the success of DOOM for it's influence.

In the mid-90's the 3D engine in graphic cards was beginning to change things. Up until now, I would like to remind the reader, the transition to a GUI had been natural. Everyone wanted it, and it just made sense. Even the best keyboard jockey's knew that a GUI would be nice every once in a while. Another transition that unfolded, started out in the form of Bulletin Board Services (BBS). BBS's popped up across the globe and allowed the local guy to create a central hub for all the people in their local area code to meet and chat over the computer using phone lines. Oh and let's not also forget the launch of the multi-million dollar ad campaign of Windows 95, and the rumoured multy million dollar licensing of the Rolling stones "Start Me Up" song. The Internet had also begun with companies like CompuServe and AOL offering access to email, or to things like Gopher and Archie and a lot of other crap that died or were transformed into the next generation of what they are today. HTTP.

In the late 90's everyone and his grand-daddy was getting into computers, or selling them. You didn't need to know a thing about it, or even have the heart or the willingness to learn it. That's because everyone was, quite appropriately, a N00b! It was like somebody just yelled out FREE BEER! FREE SEX! FREE ENTRANCE! from the VIP room at a club on a saturday night...Except it was UNLIMITED ACCESS! FREE PORN! FREE 3-MONTH MEMBERSHIP TO AOL! that could be heard from basements everywhere. Everyone was starting to get into it and the mysterious and localized BBS's transitioned into a series of tubes called the Information SuperHighway (later to be known plainly as the Internet). The iMac had resurrected Apple from the dead, and changed the boring beige boxes into colourful little guys, and then the colourful little guys all decided to dress up in black boxes from then on. The PC also moved from the basement to the living room. You also can't forget how the uber nerds from the 70's reappeared and were involved in the linux operating entrance into the commercial space. What I'm trying to point out is that everyone and I do mean everyone was getting drunk off of VC money.

CRASH!!!! The hang over. The party had ended by 2001, and who ever was left standing and sober ended up cleaning house. What we were left with was the Dude from Dell and the tag line that has stuck with the company since - "Dude your getting a DELL!" . With the Y2K bug squashed the Web caught on, and the masses agreed that the next little while would be shaped by the free flowing of music that Napster started providing, not to mention the wave of lawsuits. On top of that lets not forget to mention the lawsuits that came as a result of the gold rush for domain names.

It's now mid-2000 where we find ourselves. Computers today are being shaped more by lawyers involved with upholding frivolous intellectual property, than by computer scientists interested in the robust development of machines to aid humanity like in the past. Google however is an exception, and so is Linux. Google is a major innovator, but only Linux and its many flavours are the platform that is providing major innovation, because it is truly being shaped by what has been the driving force for the past 40 years: The user.

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