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Computer De-Evolution: Awesome Features We've Lost

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the way-of-the-dodo dept.

Displays 662

jfruhlinger writes "If you listened to tech marketing departments, you'd believe that advances in computers have been a nonstop march upwards. But is that really true? What about all the great features early hackers had in the '70s and '80s that are now hard to find or lost forever, like clicky keyboards and customizable screen height? This article looks at much beloved features that lost the evolutionary war."

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Not-a-concept (4, Insightful)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#36251944)

Devolution doesn't have a meaning, because evolution doesn't mean changes for the better.

Re:Not-a-concept (0)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36251992)

Evolution can mean to develop or improve. It has come to mean gradual adaptation through mutation, because Darwin chose the term Evolution to refer to that but that added a new meaning to the term. It didn't replace it.

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252164)

Evolution has always meant gradual change just like revolution has always meant rapid change. Neither should be taken to imply "for the better".

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252446)

"because Darwin chose the term Evolution to refer to that, thereby evolving the term."

There, fixed it for you.

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252102)

You're right. In this case, we're simply going backwards, so we could call it regression.

Re:Not-a-concept (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252104)

de-evolution may not have a meaning, but devolution has a meaning: gradually becoming an early 80s band that wore red conical pyramid hats and liked to whip it, whip it good

Re:Not-a-concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252306)

Despite the fact that my lips are for some reason dry and cracking, and this made me hurt like hell when I laughed, I have given thee a +1 Funny.

BUT (1)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252126)

But if you get a bad evolment then you could die off.....AND thus what you said is de-evolved from the topic. Fact is greed and corporations are taking away features to : A) control your wallet B) control your behavior. C) continue to take your rights away so only they have power.

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

daeley (126313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252138)

They tell us that we lost our tails, evolving up from little snails.
I say it's all just wind in sails. Are we not men?

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

frps25 (1663043) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252288)

Errr... Nop, you're wrong on that one http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evolution [merriam-webster.com] Evolution: c (1) : a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state

Re:Not-a-concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252360)

So.. one possible definition would be to change from a simpler to a more complex state. The definition uses the word "OR" not "AND".

Re:Not-a-concept (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252468)

Evolution does mean improvement over time in the common parlance. I tried slogging through Darwin's Origin of Species. I make the distinction between evolution and natural selection. A moose might be naturally selected to grow huge antlers that the chicks dig, but gets him tied up in brush and barb wire. Pandas and koalas are naturally selected to have narrowly targeted digestive systems that expose them to starvation should the environment change drastically. Natural selection just means changes that increase your odds of passing on genes in a given environment at a given time. A stupid monkey that doesn't waste the blood flow to his brain when resources limited and strength works better for acquiring food might be more survivable than a really smart monkey forces to commit 25% of his blood flow to his brain when it's not really helping him.

Evolution has come to mean talking dogs in a million years.

They forgot the most important feature of all... (4, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36251948)

The reset switch/button!

A real, mechanical 'off' switch, on the front of the machine, gets an honorable mention.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252004)

On Windows PCs at least, the BIOS will perform a hard power-off if you hold down the "soft" off button for 5 seconds.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252100)

This is hardly the same as a switch which disconnects the computer's power supply from its source.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252514)

If you can find them, buy one of those under-monitor "command center" style surge suppresses with switches for each power outlet.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (3)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252108)

My box has a power switch on the back (on the power supply). Works. Yes, you have to reach an entire 18 to 24 inches back, but it's not that difficult. :) And I'd rather have it there than have it on the front where I'd accidentally turn it off...

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252152)

"Yes, you have to reach an entire 18 to 24 inches"

when I said that to my wife she was impressed

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252404)

"Yes, you have to reach an entire 18 to 24 inches"

when I said that to my wife she was impressed

Your wife must have an enormous cooter. Most women would be TERRIFIED of 18 to 24 inches, because the average cooter is 8 inches deep.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252530)

"Yes, you have to reach an entire 18 to 24 inches"

when I said that to my wife she was impressed

Don't be so proud of yourself. It is her stock answer. She said the same to me.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252536)

Macintoshes have the same functionality.

The old PSU off switch is mostly gone now because killing power that way was hell on hard disks.

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252560)

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I still have nightmares of my three year old brother running into my bedroom while I was programming my dad's old TRS-80 and pushing the reset button because he thought it was funny.

If I need to bring a machine down hard, I can always yank the power cord, but for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE don't resurrect the stupid, fricking reset button!

Re:They forgot the most important feature of all.. (1)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252566)

That and the "turbo" button. Anyone miss that?

Lost clickly keyboards? (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36251980)

Not only are they still working fine, typing this on a Model M, but Unicomp still makes them. You can buy a brand new one if you want right now.

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252060)

Not only are they still working fine, typing this on a Model M, but Unicomp still makes them. You can buy a brand new one if you want right now.

I've got one at home and will get one at work as soon as I kill the existing unit. Here's a link to their site. [yahoo.net]

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (1)

Lunaritian (2018246) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252074)

I have a Das Keyboard, which is also a clicky, mechanical keyboard. Costs €120, but it's really worth it. The only downside is that every other keyboard feels horrible after getting used to it :/

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (2)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252280)

A good, cheap alternative is the Razer Blackwidow (base version-- not the "Blackwidow Ultimate"). Previous Razer keyboards have pretty much sucked, but this one is great, uses Cherry Blue switches, and has a pretty solid build (I swear it weighs like 8 lbs). It's not as good as the Das (although I say it is damn near close), but it only costs about $60 at Newegg.

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252146)

I have one right now, plus a spare. Here's the link for Unicomp: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/ [yahoo.net]

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252364)

Not only are they still working fine, typing this on a Model M, but Unicomp still makes them. You can buy a brand new one if you want right now.

They make keyboards that are set up for linux too. I'll try one soon. Loved the first IBM keyboards. Nothing comes close

They're widely available (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252368)

Yup. I have a cheap iOne Scorpius M10 at the office ($60 IIRC), and a Unicomp SpaceSaver M ($80?) at home. (I also spent the extra $5 or so to get keys labeled "Command" and "Option" to replace the Windows and Alt keys, at home.) They're pretty widely available and so, so worth it. A coworker just picked one up to replace the awful flat mushy keyboard that shipped with her HP TouchSmart 600. There's tons of information on the web about currently produced mechanical keyboards (google for "Cherry MX" switches), and they're not preposterously expensive (about what you'd spend for a nice pen or a reasonably nice low-end (e.g., an Invicta with an automatic Miyota movement) watch), and for something you use, a lot, (almost?) every day... http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=%22cherry+mx%22&x=0&y=0 [amazon.com] http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=mechanical+keyboard&x=0&y=0 [amazon.com] ...

Re:Lost clickly keyboards? (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252420)

Yep, I'm using a Model M from 1984 still. I tend to pickup spares off of auction sites (I have another one in a box from the early 90s as a spare).

It's a little depressing that my keyboard is ~27 years old.

Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252058)

At least I got to read the first two pages before they cratered...

You kids get off my lawn! (5, Funny)

Jellodyne (1876378) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252064)

You miss Turbo Pascal? Commodore 64's flat, unprotected memory model? Clicky keyboards with the CTRL key where tab is now, because it's somehow impossible to hit one handed CTRL keystroke combinations with it in the lower left corner?

Was this written by Andy Rooney's sysadmin?

Re:You kids get off my lawn! (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252182)

Well, one thing I sort of miss is the feeling of it actually being possible to truly understand the computer as a whole, those days are long gone. Back in the days of the C64 and similar machines you really could understand your computer to a point where you had more knowledge about it than was in the reference manuals for the various components it was made up from.

Today most of your computer, both hardware and software, is a black box with layer upon layer of abstraction. It's more powerful and easier to program but large parts will always remain unknown, there is simply too much you'd need to know with an operating system several gigabytes in size and single hardware components more complex than entire computers in the era of the C64.

Re:You kids get off my lawn! (0)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252570)

Thats because you are lazy. If you want to get to know your computer you can delve into it and get to know those large unknown parts.

Re:You kids get off my lawn! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252232)

You just remap Ctrl over Capslock and be done with it. Even the Model M has Ctrl in the wrong place.

Re:You kids get off my lawn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252294)

Actually, I do miss Turbo Pascal. It was so fast, even on a PC XT.

Re:You kids get off my lawn! (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252448)

Andy Rooney's sysadmin manages the card catalog at a library that refuses to computerize.

But are they really? (1)

DarkXale (1771414) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252072)

Not currently able to view more than just the first page but... clicky keyboards aren't really gone. Cherry Blue MX keyboards have been on the rise of late actually as the 'Gamer' market has been quite attracted to Mechanical switch keyboards the past two years. Likewise, "function" keys on the left of the keyboard space still exists on numerous boards; e.g. the Logitech G1* keyboard series. The macro buttons placed there default to F keys, but you can obviously change them to work either as a key-combo or direct macro if you wish.

Re:But are they really? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252132)

Adjustable-height monitors still exist, too. I just bought a replacement stand for mine last year that has both height and rotate. For $50.

Just like always, you have to be willing to pay for features. Only looking at the cheapest things on the market and claiming the good stuff doesn't exist anymore is silly.

Keyboard Garage (2)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252076)

The original Amiga had a keyboard garage: the machine itself was raise a little off the desk, just enough for the keyboard to slide underneath it.

I loved every single thing about that computer. The Amiga 1200 was fine too. The Amiga 500 was great, but Commodore made their first big design snafu there - they put the Zorro expansion slot on the wrong side of the computer and upside down, so you couldn't use Amiga 1000 peripherals without also flipping them upside down.

(Still not as bad as the "PCMCIA" slot on the A600.)

Other things I miss: TUIs like Project Oberon and Symbolics Lisp. Hell, Lisp in general is now such a niche it's sad. "Real" Unix - lots of little programs that do one thing and do them well. cat -n considered harmful and all that.

Sorry Dimwit - please don't DCMA me bro...

Re:Keyboard Garage (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252438)

A friend of mine bought the appropriate card edge connectors and put a Zorro II slot on the side of his A500 to run an A2000 SCSI/memory board. He said he always hoped someone would ask him to add a toaster to a 500 because he thought he could add the video port, but it never happened.

I have an A1200 I was supposed to send to someone but I never found a box for it because I'm lazy.

What I miss most... (4, Informative)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252086)

Readable websites that don't have inline ads in them, unlike the article linked.

Re:What I miss most... (4, Informative)

max99ted (192208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252156)

Print version - man's best friend: http://www.itworld.com/print/168413 [itworld.com]

Re:What I miss most... (1)

max99ted (192208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252190)

Sorry I re-read your comment and realized you meant the linked ads in the story itself.... yes they are quite annoying.

Re:What I miss most... (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252160)

Web sites without advertisements in the middle of the body text still exist, such as wikipedia.org, tvtropes.org, and even slashdot.org once you've maxed your karma for a while.

Re:What I miss most... (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252516)

Awesome. I should really check out slashdot.org sometime. :)

Sorry folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252148)

But I've _never_ hit the close button by accident.

Separate minimize from close (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252212)

On Windows, you can just ignore the maximize button because double clicking any window's title bar maximizes the window or restores it from maximized state. This handily separates the [X] close button from the [_] minimize button (called "iconify" in the article). Mac OS X, on the other hand, puts the yellow minimize button next to the red close button.

Re:Separate minimize from close (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252550)

MacOSX also gives you three colorful orbs that are completely meaningless.

Loss of features? (4, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252150)

Look at the mobile space, being touted (rightly, IMO) as the next great growth space in computing. The fundamental advantage we've had in computing up to this point is actively being attacked with walled gardens.

What walled garden on Android? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252270)

Look at the mobile space [...] The fundamental advantage we've had in computing up to this point is actively being attacked with walled gardens.

What walled garden? If you have an Android-powered device, and you didn't buy it from the AT&T store, you can turn on "Unknown sources" and install any program you want, just like every other PDA since the PalmPilot.

Re:What walled garden on Android? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252402)

Hopefully that source works on your device's version of Android. But let's not do this.

Re:What walled garden on Android? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252482)

I said it was being attacked, not that it was successful.

But then we're stuck with the other feature loss: ARM platforms have so little standardization that, unlike PCs, moving to newer kernels or other OSes is nigh upon impossible. Never mind the utter disaster in the video driver space, where only your device vendor can provide compiled binaries for the OS on your device.

on/off switches (1)

second_coming (2014346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252166)

proper on/off switches on PSU's not the stupid rocker switches (or even worse no switch at all)

Re:on/off switches (5, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252314)

proper on/off switches on PSU's not the stupid rocker switches (or even worse no switch at all)

I can understand not liking a complete lack of a switch, but what are you looking for in a power supply if not a simple rocker switch? What, do you want an oversized knife switch with electricity arcing all around it so you can shout "IT'S ALIVE! ALIVE!!! AAAAH HA HA HA!" whenever you need to flip it? Because... well, okay, I want that, too, come to think of it...

Re:on/off switches (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252316)

What's wrong with a rocker switch?

screen height: (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252174)

the greatest work station epiphany i recently had involved turning my 9:16 monitor 90 degrees

great for reading code and long articles

unless the article is stretched out in little snippets over a number of pages, like the article this story links to. i hate that. and apparently its for advertising purposes. how are advertising purposes served by chasing me away from finishing the article?

Re:screen height: (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252204)

Try using something like Autopager to load the subsequent pages into the same window.

kill is still alive (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252176)

A shortcut that has aways been on my gnome desktop is the kill window shortcut. click the button, my mouse turns into a set of cross-hairs, click the offending window, and its gone immediately. the ability to use ps -e and kill -9 are a big reason i stay on Linux. just one of the ways that linux will let me have full control over my environment. for better or worse.

They are still here ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252180)

The people mentionned in the article need
- a tiling window manager
- a proper editor (whining about not being able to open the same file at different points is ridiculous. vim/emacs, pick one, learn how to use it, you won't leave it after that)
- a mechanical keyboard
- a command line ( am I the only one that laughed upon reading that a GUI equivalent of kill such as the task manager is slow ?)
- a hex editor

I have not had the opportunity to use turbo pascal, but they are a lot of scripting/programming (the line is quite thin heh) languages that are very poweful, fast and easy to use (Python comes to mind).

All in all I don't think all those features mentionned in the article are missing, it's just the authors that don't know about an equivalent tool, or are too lazy to find one.
And to finish, a little trollbait:
Oddly, many of them miss features after they moved on Windows ...

Re:They are still here ... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252334)

Either Vim or Emacs support hex editing.

This is more a list of reasons not to buy cheap crap and not to use window, rather than features we have lost.

Am I just too young to be fond of this stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252202)

This article seemed more like nostalgia than an actual list of good features we've lost. The keys on your keyboard aren't clicky anymore, how does that mean keyboards are now worse? Seems too subjective to classify as a step backward.

Re:Am I just too young to be fond of this stuff? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252282)

Try using a clicky keyboard and you will know why it is better. My keyboard is 21 years old, it still works. Most modern keyboards won't make it 21 months. The new dell ones that come with their Optiplex line are lucky to make it 12 months, our helpdesk folks warranty return them constantly.

Re:Am I just too young to be fond of this stuff? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252418)

Try using a clicky keyboard and you will know why it is better.

Because the sound drives you insane enough that you think it's better? :-)

Re:Am I just too young to be fond of this stuff? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252492)

Because you can feel if you hit the key or if hit the right one. No need to look at what you are typing. Which is handy if you are speaking to someone at the same time, or out-typing a very slow link.

Re:Am I just too young to be fond of this stuff? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252548)

I have a bunch of squishy keyboards that I've had for many years. Many of them have been horribly abused, as in, I wouldn't put them in a photo of a computer they were connected to because they have been lying around the storage room and have weird stains on them that would cast aspersions on my character. All of 'em work fine except for Apple keyboards which die at the drop of a hat — any hat, anywhere in the world. I've gone through two pro keyboards because they are beautiful and feel nice, but no more. And no, I don't use Macs, the only one I own is an SE. Sometimes I use it to hold a door in a particular position. It does work as a computer though, has Word 5.1 on it, and I can hook it to my HPLJ2100 since I put a Postscript module in it. So if my eight or nine other computers fail I guess it could be pressed into service. I even have a GV 28.8k ADB modem... I think it's a 28 anyway, might be a 14.

Chirping disk drives... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252218)

I miss the subtle chirping sounds that my old MiniScribe MFM 20MB hard drive made.

These same sounds have been used as computer sounds effects in countless movies and video games such as Doom, and Unreal.

Turbo power (4, Funny)

incognito84 (903401) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252220)

Bring back the Turbo button!

Re:Turbo power (1)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252252)

I was just going to say the same thing. PC running too slow? Just hit the Turbo button and marvel at the instant power.

not one "awesome" isn't something that sucked.... (1)

LoganDzwon (1170459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252222)

seriously... everything on that list is something retarded that was only ever there because we didn't have easily producible better ways of doing things.

Out of touch old people ranting. (5, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252234)

"I really miss the 'clicky' IBM Model M keyboards from the mid and late '80"

You can still get these

"which could kill an accidentally triggered program, along with the Unix Control-C and kill -9 for command line Unix. I'm not sure if anything exists that can do that as quickly at the GUI level. "

Right-click & "force quit" using OSX' dock, or CMD-q

"XEDIT had the ability to restrict the file to a part, and have all editing commands, such as 'go to top/search and replace/select to bottom,' only work on that part of the file."

Use Jedit.

"This let me write macros that were globally available."

Services in OSX.

"Almost 30 years ago, there was a "see" program for the IBM PC -- I don't recall whether it was a .com or .exe file -- that allowed users to view, search and subsequently edit the bytes comprising executable images."

It's called a hex editor, there thousands of 'em.

What the hell is this bullshit? (2, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252248)

From TFA:

"What I miss most are keyboards that have some 'omph' to them, and software that makes use of keyboard shortcuts. I really miss the 'clicky' IBM Model M keyboards from the mid and late '80s, for instance. I can type 150+ words per minute and I can move my fingers across a keyboard faster than I can move my hand to a mouse, move the cursor, click, and put my fingers back on the keyboard. I really really really miss customizable keyboard shortcuts."

WHAT???? You have keyboard shortcuts now, windows has the Windows button and the alt key! For both Windows and Mac you have a ton of shortcut apps that give you access to keyboard shortcuts. Apps that take shortened text you type frequently and expands it to a long word. They are all there, they just moved to third party apps. This Eric Loyd is a dipshit if he misses keyboard shortcuts... go buy a $2 app that gives them back to you you idiot!

More:

""The main feature I miss on today's keyboards is having FUNCTION keys (F1, F2, etc) on the left of the main key area, and a CONTROL key in the middle of the left-side column of keys (so it goes from top to bottom: ~/TAB/CTRL/SHIFT/ALT). There are a number of CTRL+F-key and ALT+F-key combinations that can quickly and easily done with one hand in this configuration without looking"

I agree the layout of the keyboard in this instance is good, but if you have fully customizable shortcuts at your command thru any number of apps, design something that makes sense to you. Don't assign your shortcut to Alt-F12 if you need two hands and want one hand. Undo/cut/copy/paste were brilliantly designed, take a lesson from that and design the same keyboard shortcut for yourself.

More:
"There is a programmable keyboard available -- the CVT Avant Stellar,"

Ah fuck me it's a slashvertisement.

More:
"what he misses is the convenience of DOS's CONTROL-C and CONTROL-Q which could kill an accidentally triggered program, along with the Unix Control-C and kill -9 for command line Unix. I'm not sure if anything exists that can do that as quickly at the GUI level."

I can agree with this, a keyboard in general is the fastest input device we have, but this is a clever deception, trying to say that just because a GUI is slower it's not evolving. Not true. Once you know what you are doing, and have to perform a repetitive task, a keyboard is always faster. A GUI, however, is always easier if you don't necessarily know what you are looking for or know what you are doing. Remember images and motions towards and area of the screen is easier for a lot of people, rather than trying to remember to put a -9 after the kill, or remembering what grep, awk, and cron do. If you have to look up a command every few minutes, it's not faster, and if you can remember the action faster to do what you want, for you it's faster. GUIs opened up the world of computing to many more people, and that's a fact, because it was easier to remember and perform the tasks they wanted to perform.

More:
"The CMU Andrew Toolkit had very complex scrollbars that took a while to master,"

Stop right there, everything in this paragraph is invalidated by the fact that thos was "complex" and "took a while to master." A GUI is supposed to make things simpler, because not everyone has time to master complex scroll bars. If it takes me a half hour to figure out scrolling in a GUI, it's not necessarily faster when all I have to do is scan down a page looking for a simple paragraph. Complex is not necessarily evolution, and making something simplified is not necessary a regression. Simplicity could speed everyone up as a whole.

The article then degenerates into a bunch of technobabble about a bunch of features developers use to have, but just about every one of them has a modern equivalent they could get by just finding and downloading third party software, most which is probably free. Sure, notepad sucks, notepad is not meant to be an advanced text editor! How long did it take you to figure that out??????

This is whining by computer-luddites who liked the old way and can't evolve into current methods. Plus the article takes the tack that because computers don't do things "the old way" that the new way automatically sucks. Just because it doesn't work for you specifically doesn't mean it sucks. Computers evolve constantly, and we as users have to evolve with those methods. These evolutions are meant for the masses, but these operating systems are also infinitely customizeable. Spend less time whining about what sucks and change the environment to suit your needs. Stories about punch card computer systems are funny and quaint, but they do not serve to make me sympathize for you over what appears to be your inability to adapt.

This is stupid (3, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252266)

It's nothing more than a bunch of old farts complaining about how the old days were better, when in fact most of that they want is still available or entirely unnecessary. Keyboards for example. I for one prefer new keyboards. I hated the old clicky style, but as others have shown, they are available for those who want them. Complaining about the scroll bar and not being able to click in the window to recenter? That might have been nice... in the days before the mouse wheel.

Re:This is stupid (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252310)

PS. I especially like how they complained about grouping the close window icon with the minimize and maximize and how he "still occasionally" closes windows he wants to maximize. I don't think I have ever done that, or seen even the most incompetent user do it.

That's funny. (1)

c2me2 (2202232) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252272)

I'm typing on a clicky keyboard right now. Made by Unicomp. It's not *quite* as durable as an old IBM keyboard (which could stun an ox), but it's still pretty solid.

Seriously? (2)

deains (1726012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252274)

Not to insult those who like old-school tech, but this article really sounds like it was written by the views of a bunch of dinosaurs. On p3 someone laments the death of xedit, a non-GUI text editor with search/replace, go to top/bottom, and so on. I mean, has he never heard of Vim? I'd be intrigued to hear of any features xedit had that Vim doesn't, or you couldn't write a keybinding for in emacs (not that I delve in such magic). There's also this gem of a quote: "Whenever I read an article online, be it in Adobe Reader, a text editor, or a web browser, I try to get an uninterrupted paragraph on the screen, fail, curse, and move on, knowing that online reading used to be a far less turbulent and far more graceful experience before popular and simple displaced complex and useful." Adobe Reader (along with MS Word and others) supports full-screen mode, allowing an uninterrupted view. And with monitors being so huge now it's not exactly hard to ignore 100 vertical pixels of menu bars. And clacky keyboards have been sidelined for a reason - it's generally much nicer to type on a soft keyboard, and in a crowded office your eardrums will thank you if everyone's using laptop-style keyboards. Of course, if you really prefer the old style, it's not hard to get a hold of one, they're just not as mass-produced now because the demand isn't there. Nothing to lament, really.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252562)

You have failed to read or to comprehend what you read. There are valid arguments to be made about the complaints, but yours are not.

The musing about XEdit was that it could lock it's commands to only operate on a section of the document, not the whole document.

The complaint about paragraphs and scrolling is related to the behavior of scrollbars, and has nothing to do with the amount visible on screen at one time.

Variable size RAM disk (2)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252308)

The Amiga had a RAM drive that was always the size of whatever was in it and no bigger. If you copied items to the ram drive, the drive size expanded (until you ran out of RAM), when you deleted items, the RAM drive size decreased.

I used to run a BBS and I would initially load all the executables to the RAM disk, with the message boards saving to floppies. As long as I was only warm-booting the machine (i.e., without turning off the power), the RAM disk would stay intact, and I could boot from RAM, which made everything run lighting fast.

Re:Variable size RAM disk (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252388)

tmpfs or ramfs, depends on if you want to swap it or not.

Re:Variable size RAM disk (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252472)

The recoverable ramdisk, or RRD (typically device RAD:) was an even-cooler feature than just a growing ramdisk. It seems like there ought to be some way to implement this functionality on modern machines too, possibly requiring BIOS hacks (coreboot?)

split screen (2)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252312)

The author of this article should try Vim - I believe you can split the screen all you want. Speaking of editors, I feel nostalgic about Speedscript, the word processor on the C64. But I sure don't miss editing in 40 columns!

I dislike the lack of configurability of some things today, yet for those things that are configurable they're still using an Advanced options paradigm from over a decade ago so things are hard to find (Windows is actually improving in that respect). I love how far Linux has come over the years.

Screen frame rate syncronized playback... (1)

man machine (900254) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252342)

In the 80's and early 90's on many home computers (like c64 and Amiga) movement of graphics was nearly always perfectly synchronized to the screen frame rate. As this usually was a TV-set or composite monitor running non-interlaced video the rate was 50 or 60 Hz. Today synchronization is pretty scarce to say the least!

I miss serial ports on laptops. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252366)

And on every device. It was great having a simple, inexpensive, hackable interface into every device, controllable from any computer.

True low level format of a HDD... (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252376)

One feature I miss is a true low level format of a HDD. Now just for overwriting sectors, but for allowing the drive to rebuild its sector relocation table.

Older SCSI drives would mark blocks as bad and relocate the data. When they got low level formatted, the bad blocks would remain bad, but the area reserved for bad blocks would be clear (since the remapped blocks would be flagged as bad and not used.) This would allow the drive to continue to be used, as when the remapped block area fills up, the drive can't do anything except report soft/hard errors.

A true low level format also brought peace of mind -- any data on the disk before that was blanked out, and every usable sector has been tested to make sure it was readable/writable.

I would say: Self-modifying code (2)

csoh (45909) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252378)

We sacrificed creativity, and some unknown possibility for the security fit for dumb majority.

TVs vs. Monitors (1)

Calydor (739835) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252380)

I remember how my Amiga600 had TV Out as standard. The TV was the only monitor you could easily use for that machine if I recall correctly.

Went to PC, a decade or so went by, and suddenly graphics cards start flaunting this incredible new innovation that would let you use your TV as a computer monitor. I was less than impressed.

Re:TVs vs. Monitors (2)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252510)

The Commodore 1084 and 1084S monitors work fine.

Real Power Buttons (5, Interesting)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252384)

On every single device, mobile and PC, actual power buttons are disappearing. My cellphone has a mutant mute/power, but the power only actually brings up a "What would you like to do, mute, airplane, or actually power off?" So, on a crash, take off case, pull battery. Things just aren't designed to turn off anymore. I miss that.

Re:Real Power Buttons (2)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252484)

But how will the government know what you're doing if your device is turned off?

Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252526)

...most times, you simply hold the button a bit longer, say 5 seconds, and it switches off. Unless it has crashed of course, but then again : you wouldn't see the screen either.

Like back in the day when Firefox had a URL bar... (2)

plastick (1607981) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252386)

Or "back in the day" when Firefox had a URL bar... just sayin'

Keyboards (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252390)

Not only are clicky keyboards gone, but the keyboards themselves are going away with the advent of tablets.

Apple ][ nostalgia (1)

Framboise (521772) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252394)

I miss the instant boot of Apple ][ and the immediate access/modification to
any memory location as well as the possibility to write interactively assembly
programs with the built-in "monitor". It was a great machine to learn in detail
how a computer works .

LUDDITE !!! (0)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252422)

TFA is about (old) people complaining about THEIR PERSONNAL prefered (10 years ago) feature being abandonned for lack of actual or widespread usage.

Flat memory model? Really? (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252456)

From TFA: "Closer to the hardware side of things, Heyland misses the Commodore 64's memory model. "It could overlay hardware, firmware and regular memory as needed, and had no reserved memory sections. This let me write macros that were globally available.""

Losing this is a *bad* thing? It might make sense on a single purpose device where you know what all the code running is doing, but on a modern computer running hundreds of tasks concurrently? Seems to me it would let you write lots of other globally available stuff too. I doubt you'd want most of it.

Clicky Keyboards (1)

iRommel (1684036) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252474)

Das, Filco, Ducky.. hell even Razer and Steelseries make mechanical keyboards with tactile feedback and "clicky-ness" if you desire. Currently typing this on a brown switched Filco Majestouch 2, enjoying every second of it too!

Ignorant users ? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252518)

Having read TFA (shut up!), the impression I took away was that the various interviewees were old fogeys who are either unaware of current functionality, or unwilling to adapt.

One of the complaints is that modern Linux/BSD should automagically pipe console output through "more", even when not specified... really ? Are these guys so lazy ? What of all the full-screen interfaces, and streams of scrolling text we want to monitor but not necessarily read page-by-page ? The same PDP-8 dinosaur-lover self-describes as being "good at making sense of unfamiliar technologies or processes". Riiiiight...

Another classy fellow says he can't live without the archaic IBM XEdit, which was basically a memory-limited dos Edit for mainframes, and he sorely misses Ctrl-C and "kill -9" on the Windows side (*ahem* Ctrl-C still works, and TaskKill). I mean, is this really what constitutes commercial journalism today ? Baby boomers longing for the good old days ?

You know what ? I also have fond memories of Turbo Pascal in the early 90s, just like I have fond memories of my first girlfriend. That doesn't change the fact that she was a mindless domineering psycho bitch that was quickly and EASILY replaced with an improved version.

If they want to post a relevant article, maybe they could whine about how old gear was built to last, while today's asian-made crap barely survives the trip from the store. My first-run C64 has survived a hundred times more drops, jolts and whacks than today's gadgets could ever handle.

mouse with cursors (1)

Sentry23 (447266) | more than 2 years ago | (#36252546)

Atari ST, a dedicated Help button, and being able to control the mouse with Alt-Cursor buttons.
It took me ages to get used to working without that on windows.

Page-at-a-time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36252552)

"As a developer, I found it very useful for when I ran scripts that produced a surprisingly large amount of output or a lot of error messages," says Franklin. "I did not need to run the command over again in order to see it all. This feature has never been in another version of UNIX or Linux since."

Assuming a non-X11 console, but on most Linux (Ubuntu and CentOS) installs I've used, "Scroll Lock" and "Shift+PgUp" or "Shift+PgDn" lets you scroll back a couple hundred lines. FreeBSD uses "Scroll Lock" with the arrow keys. Doesn't give you an automagic "|more", but it works.

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