Accidental Empires, Part 7 (Chapter 1d) — Our Nerds

accidental-195x300The founders of the microcomputer industry were groups of boys who banded together to give themselves power. For the most part, they came from middle-class and upper-middle-class homes in upscale West Coast communities. They weren’t rebels; they resented their parents and society very little. Their only alienation was the usual hassle of the adolescent—a feeling of being prodded into adulthood on somebody else’s terms. So they split off and started their own culture, based on the completely artificial but totally understandable rules of computer architecture. They defined, built, and controlled (and still control) an entire universe in a box—an electronic universe of ideas rather than people—where they made all the rules, and could at last […]

Accidental Empires, Part 6 (Chapter 1c) — The Airport Kid

accidental-195x300ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

The Airport Kid was what they called a boy who ran errands and did odd jobs around a landing field in exchange for airplane rides and the distant prospect of learning to fly. From Lindbergh’s day on, every landing strip anywhere in America had such a kid— sometimes several—who’d caught on to the wonder of flight and wasn’t about to let go.

Technologies usually fade in popularity as they are replaced by new ways of doing things, so the lure of flight must have been awesome, because the airport kids stuck around America for generations. They finally disappeared in the 1970s, killed not by a transcendant technology but by the dismal economics of flight.

The numbers […]

Accidental Empires, Part 1 — Looking back at a golden era

accidental-195x300February, 2013 —

We stand today near the beginning of the post-PC era. Tablets and smart phones are replacing desktops and notebooks. Clouds are replacing clusters. We’re more dependent than ever on big computer rooms only this time we not only don’t own them, we don’t even know where they are.  Three years from now we’ll barely recognize the computing landscape that was built on personal computers. So if we’re going to keep an accurate chronicle of that era, we’d better get to work right now, before we forget how it really happened.

Oddly enough, I predicted all of this almost 25 years ago as you’ll see if you choose to share this journey and read on. […]