Sunday, 4 August 2013

I was sitting the other day, playing with the latest alpha of Kubuntu linux, and reflecting on the changes in computing over the years.  By the time I got back into computers, they had evolved into things like the SinclairZX80, Tandy TRS-80 and Commodore PET and VIC20.

In the early 1980's We had an Epson QX-10 running cp/m operating system and using BASIC as the programming language.  We also had a Commodore 64 and a TRS-80 with dual disk drives, but the QX-10 was the power machine.
In about 1984 IBM began to have success with the XT, and computing was never the same again.

As computers evolved, so did the operating systems.  I never felt happy with the limitations of Microsoft Dos, especially when compared with older, more stable DOS like DR DOS.  Digital Research DOS had a graphical interface before Microsoft introduced it, but after Apple.  We also had WYSIWYG publishing and a few other neat tricks, but the best thing about Digital Research was the stability.  If there was a computer problem, chances were it was caused by hardware.  Apple suffered the same certainty.  If an Apple computer had a problem, it was likely a hardware one.

Microsoft changed computing forever.  Suddenly there was money to be made from computing.  Software failures became bread and butter and technicians became Microsoft Software fixers.  Microsoft prevailed by sheer strength of numbers, and by enhancing good ideas, even if it meant releasing the result before it was working properly.

I was happy when Linux appeared for download.  It was very simple, used familiar UNIX commands, and worked.  It was also very messy to install and there were lots of things it could not do.  But by about 1998 one Linux distribution had matured sufficiently that we moved all of our day to day computing across to the new platform.  It was easy for us, being a computing business, and having the ability to write or modify programs to suit.

Now I am trying Kubuntu 13.11 Alpha.  A couple of days ago the upgrade took it to Alpha 2.  I have an earlier version installed alongside - just in case it breaks, but so far it is fast, stable and nothing like MS Windows.

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