пятница, 21 января 2011 г.

Apple and lockdown

Revisionist history (Score:5, Insightful)

by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday April 07 2010, @12:26PM (#31763706)
posting this again, since something went wrong the first time:

this is a false dichotomy forged by suggesting that this Steve is good, ergo this steve is bad, then amplifying those traits by mapping them on to perceived standards of today.

I built and sold homebrew computers in the era when the apple II hit the market. At the time we all laughed at the apple as a "toy" because it was so locked down and not built from components. Back then, sonny, you built a computer like an Imsai, altair, cromenco, by starting with a metal box, putting in a non-switiching power supply, choosing the largest capacitors you could fit in the box, then an s-100 (altair) buss. then you picked a cpu board from one manufacturer, some memory cards from another, a keyboard uart decoder from another, a keybaord from another, a video card, and a TV screen modded with an RF converter on channel 4.

These apples were hideously locked down. Switching powersupplies with just wires coming out of a metal box, no way to ugrade the capacity and very little excess capacity. the keyboard was integrated into the case ! and wholly shit a mother board with soldered in chips, video, meomery, and CPU.

Even the address space of the cards you plugged in was decoded on the motherboad not the cards (which allowed the cards to be smaller than the ones for the S-100 bus). THe cards even got regulated voltages not raw rectified AC.

they sucked all the flexibility out of it.

the software was essential to the operation of the hardware not separate from it: a lot of the video management was done in software. the timing one the disk drives they put out used soft sectors not hardware determined sectors (only one hole punched in the floppy instead of 20, one for each sector). Even the memory refresh was handeled on the video updates which in turn were backsided on last half of the 6502's instruction cycle (when it would not be fetching). It was one of the very first systems to successfully use dynamic memory. (Only a fool would not use static memory in an altair, since you had to do all the refresh handling on the memory card).

You had to buy apple floppy disks, and apple plug-in cards for many things cause they were not standard cards or drives.

And of course the apple II in hind sight was one of the most geniuous machines ever built. it's lock downs let hobbiest's soar in other directions. plug in cards were small and the pre-decoded addresses and regulated voltages let you put all your effort into what they did rather than barely getting them to work. the dynamic memory allowed cheaper larger address spaces and the standardization of the video (all apples had to have the same video card) meant all games written would work on all apples. the same was not true of the others' since every s-100 bus machine had some different video card standard.

the use oif software decoding of keyboards and disks and so forth introiduced an era that eventually led to the apple desk top bus in the macintosh. What a brilliant simplication. Now we of course have USB instead of different ports for keyboards, parallel printers, scsi drives, tablets, mice.... But the only reasons we went down that track was Woz's apple paved the way. by making so much of the hardware immutable, the software could rely on standard configurations in every machine and thus software timing of other events became reliable for the very first time.

so this is BS revisionism to say that Woz was all about openness and Jobs all about lock down.

What it was both. lock downs of previously unlocked down things created growth to build on. you were not constantly re-inventing the wheel from scratch. In case you have not noticed it before the thing that makes apples great is they always are expensive: this is because they spec them out at high levels using fewer but a complete set of advanced components even on base models. This means software can always count on a feature being there and thus not shoot for the lowest common denominator. think back to pre-windows XP days about how hard it was to move a mouse or a printer from one PS computer to another but trivial on apples and macs. these days PCs are moving ahead precisely because of standard components. power supplies, USB, SATA. you don't mess around trying to home brew those do you?

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