As I was checking my computer this morning for any new software updates, I started thinking about how far computers have come just in my lifetime. You see, I grew up with a PC that was a hand me down from my fathers company. They were out dated and slow. They used the MS-DOS Line Command interface. (Not easy to use as a hyper-active pre-teen) Back then, it was a real luxury to have a PC in your home. In fact, I don’t even think they used the word PC (personal Computer) back then, it was just a computer.
The big players were still dominating the market, Xerox and IBM. They had built proprietary software to function on the machines that they were building. And that makes sense to me. The only problem was, what if I want to update my software? And which computer classes do I have to take in order to do it? What if a company came out with a better OS, can I use that on my ‘Big Blue’ computer?
The answer was No, not surprisingly….
Not that tech savvy…
In the early days, (mine, maybe not yours) I had to memorize command lines, or put pen to paper to remember where my files were. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a computer in the first place. IBM machines in the early days were not a time saving affair for me, but an interesting gadget that I could play around with. Kind of like my TI-82 calculator (which had more computing power than an Apple II) that I had in High School. I never learned most of the commands on my TI-82, because I didn’t like line command structures. In the end, it was too much hassle to try and tease out the functions that I wanted.
Enter the GUI interface…..
The rise of the common man. While I do agree with most computer experts when they say that a line-command structure is faster (because you don’t need a lot of add-ons to make it work) I think the GUI interface changed the future for PCs. The computer companies stopped building machines for each other and started concentrating on the end-user. It’s like when a doctor has a very complicated procedure with a lot of steps, but he has to explain it to me. We are going to grow an organ in a dish and put it in that human over there. He knows that I don’t need to know the inner workings of his field. (I don’t have time to go to Medical School) I just want to know if it’s going to work. Computers focused more on the end result often are more readily accepted than the ones that need a degree to operate.
I don’t think that most kids today would even know what a line command structure looks like. It’s hidden in the glitz and glamour of the OS. Do you think a kid that’s trying to pull up ‘Angry Birds’ would be able to tease out the command line for something like that? I don’t think so, and that is fine by me. They will be the future developers and I’m sure, like me, they will focus more on the function, than the path to get there….
I’ll be talking about the ‘Life of a Mouse’ next time. Feel free to leave comments below!