Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I wish I had a time machine...

...so that I could go back to... say, 1996, and tell people "Seriously, in fifteen years, people are going to get into hair-pulling fights on the internet over whose telephone is better," just to see the look on their faces.

Of course, then I'd have to explain "No, it's like a Newton, except you can actually do stuff with it. Like talk on the phone and surf the 'net."

PDA's were a pretty tough sell back then, kids: All you could really do on 'em was take notes and exchange electronic "business cards". A Palm III was $400 and a Newton was almost twice that; a little notebook, a pencil, and a faux leather business card holder was $1.95 plus tax at Walgreen's. It was a big revolution once you could carry email, games, and full-color porn around in your pocket.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I made an adapter cable that allowed me to use my Palm Pro to manage a Cisco route via the console port. There was actually a free Palm app for that. This was circa 1998ish I think.

I've been a longtime PDA user, starting with a Palm Pro in the late 90s, then a Casio Cassiopeia in the early 2000s (had a modem for it too!), then a few variations of Treo smartphone, and finally an iPod Touch (dumped smartphones once Verizon decided to not sell them without a data plan). Useful devices and getting more useful every year.

Chris

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Ima gunna have to get me one of them newfangled car phones I saw Jim Rockford sport around in in his gold Firebird someday. Or am I thinking of Mannix or Cannon?

Bubblehead Les. said...

Gee, whodda thunk it 15 years ago that there would be a site where I could have 800 Million "Friends" to talk to.

Most of whom couldn't spell "United States Constitution", let alone tell you what's in it and why it's important.

Nathan said...

I was going to say, "Walgreens? Surely you mean 'Hooks'", but Revco bought them out in '94.

wv: felin. Not felin it today.

montieth said...

I was doing a little bit Macintosh consulting and sending faxes of my invoices to customers from remote sites with my Newton MP100.

So, a bit more than just a place to put contacts if you actually knew how to use the hardware. ;-)

DirtCrashr said...

I still have my Palm, it keeps a database of guns. This whole broughaha kerfluffle (sic) is why there's no Android/Apple TV.
It takes about two years to get a tv from the factory development work-stand to market, and imagine asking customers, consumers of all people, to hold down the Power and the Mute button to re-set the tube in the middle of a FOOTBALL game...

Tam said...

Montieth,

Oh, sure, there were a few cool little tricks it could do, but like the home computer before the invention of the Web, it was a tool for geeks and hobbyists.

Like those old ads that touted an Apple II Plus (Over $3500 in 2011 dollars) for mom to store her recipes on or showed dad balancing the checkbook on a TI-99/4A ($1300 in today's worthless scrip), it was just trying to railroad before it was railroadin' time.

Rick C said...

Now that's not fair, because you could type in BASIC programs from magazines and play games on your TI or Atari.

Tam said...

Right. Geeks and hobbyists. ;)

Andy said...

I used my iPaq in wardriving, with a PCMCIA sleeve. A friend put a pair if iPaq's in his car.. one ran linux, had a SCSI drive attached via PCMCIA and played MP3's. The other one was up front and had a music selection interface to it. Rolling WiFi network ran it all, 10 years ago.

At last check, Newtons were still in use on Disney properties.

Tam said...

Andy,

"I used my iPaq in wardriving, with a PCMCIA sleeve."

...and that's not geeky at all. ;)

(As a matter of fact, when Marko brought home an iPaq ten years ago, that was its nickname around the house: the "Geekmaster 2000".)

PeaceableGuy said...

The big leap forward, I believe, was the ability to essentially have the entire Internet in your pocket, any time, anywhere (within the bounds of civilization).

Offline PDA at $500, not such a deal. Collected knowledge of all mankind in your pocket for $500, a steal.

Buzz said...

Casio Zoomer, baby!

Anonymous said...

15 years ago there was a site that 800 million "freinds" could talk. It was called IRC and we had this place where you could get news (though ... news was not really what we were getting)

GOD these internewbs make me nuts *pfft*

Anonymous said...

AND for the record ... lets go over a few more things that happened 15 years ago:

Windows NT 4.0 went RTM

HDTV broadcast has been set as a standard (ATSC)

100BaseT was brand new

This wireless protocol that the fed auctioned off was going to change the way we used wireless (it falled)

PCS services were being sold in stores

DSL was offically being rolled out

OH and Al gore was inventing the internet

Seriously folks ... the intertubes are not that new, the internet did not get built so that you can google and use facebook

Tam said...

Anon,

Wow, you're so jaded! (Another thing that happened fifteen years ago is that I got the same email address I'm using today.)

DirtCrashr said...

Facebook is just AOL-1996 - back when I had a T-1 line at work...when I had work.

Zendo Deb said...

"the internet did not get built so that you can google and use facebook" Ah, the good-old-days.

The quality of information on the 'net was much better when the only way to get at it was gopher. (The quality was better, it was just harder to find. As opposed to having terabytes of drek at your fingertips. An improvement? Meh.

Zendo Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zendo Deb said...

But seriously, do people keep their phones for more than 2 years? I thought that was the point of a 2-year contract. You got the best deal you could on the phone you liked. The carrier locked you in for 2 years and pissed you off in 6 months. At the end of the 2 years you said "screw you, your customer service sucks" and left that carrier. Rinse. Repeat.