: Re: [LINK] to USB

Stewart Fist stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Tue Dec 5 13:10:31 AEDT 2006

Stephen wrote:

>One could well argue the case, and somebody probably has,
>that the main reason the computer became a consumer item
>and essential in business and education, was the floppy disk.

I would argue that the personal computer gained a rapid foothold in the
market because:

1. VisiCalc on the first Apple IIs and later on the IBM PC, cut the
work-load of accountants dramatically.  This meant that they appealed to
those in corporations and government departments that held the purse-strings
-- and once they'd bought them for themselves, they couldn't deny them to
others in the organisation.

The most dramatic revolution in attitudes to technical came, amazingly
enough, from the most conservative profession.

2. Journalists discovered that they could hack out quick copy, upgrade it
readily and (in small organisations, initially, only) send it to a
typesetter without all the old problems of lead-typesetting, etc.

Journos and editors became crusaders on behalf of the new technology, and
vocal promoters, because they quickly understood the value to themselves.

I think both of these developments came at about the same time as the cheap
5-inch floppy arrived on the scene, but we could easily have carried on for
a few more years with tape-recorders.

The main inhibitor in my recollection, was the sheer price of owning a
printer.  My first daisy-wheel was much much larger, and cost more than the
Apple PC with two floppy drives.

Stewart Fist, writer, journalist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Road, LINDFIELD, 2070, NSW, Australia
Ph +61 (2) 9416 7458

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