Tag Archives: Personal computer

The unlikely origins of USB, the port that changed everything

By Joel Johnson – In the olden days, plugging something into your computer—a mouse, a printer, a hard drive—required a zoo of cables.

If you’ve never heard of those things, and if you have, thank USB.

When it was first released in 1996, the idea was right there in the first phrase: Universal Serial Bus. And to be universal, it had to just work. “The technology that we were replacing, like serial ports, parallel ports, the mouse and keyboard ports, they all required a fair amount of software support, and any time you installed a device, it required multiple reboots and sometimes even opening the box,” says Ajay Bhatt, who retired from Intel in 2016. “Our goal was that when you get a device, you plug it in, and it works.”

But it was an initial skeptic that first popularized the standard: in a shock to many geeks in 1998, the Steve Jobs-led Apple released the groundbreaking first iMac as a USB-only machine.

Now a new cable design, Type-C, is creeping in on the typical USB Type-A and Type-B ports on phones, tablets, computers, and other devices—and mercifully, unlike the old USB cable, it’s reversible. The next-generation USB4, coming later this year, will be capable of achieving speeds upwards of 40Gbps, which is over 3,000 times faster than the highest speeds of the very first USB.

Bhatt couldn’t have imagined all of that when, as a young engineer at Intel in the early ’90s, he was simply trying to install a multimedia card. The rest is history, one that Joel Johnson plugged in to with some of the key players. more>

Lenovo To Release ‘Coffee Table PC’

By Peter Svensson – Lenovo Group Ltd., one of the world’s largest PC makers, is calling the IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC the first “interpersonal computer” — as opposed to a “personal computer.”

At first glance, it looks like a regular all-in-one machine in the vein of the iMac: It’s a 27-inch (685.8-millimeter) screen with the innards of a Windows 8 computer built into it, and it can stand up on a table.

But you can pick it up off the table, unhook the power cord and lay it flat for games of “Monopoly.” It’s big enough to fit four people around it, and the screen can respond to ten fingers touching it at the same time. more> http://tinyurl.com/bh3mqy3

The IBM PS/2: 25 Years of PC History

By Benj Edwards – By the time of the PS/2’s launch in 1987, IBM PC clones–unauthorized work-alike machines that could utilize IBM PC hardware and software–had eaten away a sizable portion of IBM’s own PC platform. Compare the numbers: In 1983, IBM controlled roughly 76 percent of the PC-compatible market, but in 1986 its share slipped to 26 percent.

By 1990, it was abundantly clear that IBM no longer guided the PC-compatible market. And in 1994, Compaq replaced IBM as the number one PC vendor in the United States. more> http://tinyurl.com/7z6k6hn

The End Of Microsoft … As We Know It

By Todd Hixon – In the 1990s Microsoft triumphed over Apple with its stand-alone operating system (“OS”) strategy. Now Microsoft is abandoning its winning formula, and following its competitors.

Microsoft is at or near to this same Rubicon: does it bet on its key customers and core DNA, or does it try to run with the fast crowd and define the future? Either way, it will be the end of Microsoft as we know it. more> http://tinyurl.com/7l4rngs

If The Best Technology Won We Would All Be Using OS/2

T-REX Corporate Center was originally one of I...

T-REX Corporate Center was originally one of IBM's research labs where the IBM PC was created. Applied Card Systems, the in-house collection for Cross Country Bank, is located here among many other businesses.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Alan Shimel – Today (Apr 2, 2012) marks the 25th anniversary of IBM‘s announcement of the OS/2 PC operating system. Harry McCracken over on Time.com has a great piece reflecting back on the success and failure’s of IBM’s ill fated attempt to to rule the desktop and how in some places OS/2 sill lives on.

More than anything to me though OS/2 is the poster child of why very often the best technology doesn’t win. Sometimes it is marketing, politics and other factors that make our technology decisions for us and have us choose inferior technology instead.

In case you are not familiar with the history involved here, let me give you a quick synopsis. When IBM launced the original PC (largely developed here in the Boca Raton area where I live) they choose as the OS a system licensed to them by a small company called Microsoft. Microsoft in turn had licensed this disk operating system (DOS) from a Seattle based company. DOS was 16 bit, clunky, buggy and not real user friendly but as PCs were cloned, Microsoft was making a fortune licensing it to all of the clone makers. more> http://is.gd/MUzfNl

What, if anything, to do about Wall Street’s wealth

Wall Street taken above steam stack road works...

Image via Wikipedia

By Nicholas F. Brady – When I came to Wall Street in 1954, investment banking was a profession, one that financed the building of this country’s industrial capacity and infrastructure. We financed pipelines that brought cheap natural gas to the households of New England. We financed the development of new drugs. We financed inexpensive restaurants that made eating out affordable. We financed the earliest personal computers, which ultimately led to the Internet Age. All of this fit within a framework of activities that didn’t threaten this country’s finances, much less the world’s.

But year by year the industry’s emphasis moved away from this purpose and toward financial innovation for financial profit’s sake. The money was addictive. It drove people on Wall Street into activities that had no redeeming social value, and it disoriented executive pay scales. This enormity couldn’t be contained, and at its height in 2008 it blew up our financial system. more> http://is.gd/oZZugq

Remembering Steve Jobs, the man who saved Apple


Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs
February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

Macworld/Network World – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 56. Jobs, who reigned as Apple CEO for 14 years, resigned his post in August 2011 and was replaced by Tim Cook, who previously was the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Jobs, in turn, was elected as chairman of Apple’s board of directors.

Apple’s introduction of the Macintosh in 1984 introduced the graphical user interface to mainstream desktop computing. The Mac ran on a 32-bit processor (compared to 16-bit processors for other PCs at the time) and had 128K of memory. more> http://twurl.nl/ekcjbl

The Case of the Mysterious Computer Resets

By Rob Spiegel – In the early 1990s, our customer started to experience spurious computer resets. They were rare and would only happen on a test bench when the console was connected. Rare, intermittent problems like this are difficult to investigate under the best conditions.

Since the problem only occurred when the console cable was connected, we decided to build a longer cable to see if that would make the problem happen more consistently. We had the technicians build a three-foot-long cable extender, and, bingo, with it connected, we had a nearly continuous string of resets. more> http://twurl.nl/biqv5g