Stewart Fist stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Wed Dec 6 12:40:02 AEDT 2006

Adam wrote:
> 8" floppy existed for years before the 5.25" floppy did.    There was
> nothing preventing it's entry into the market as a consumer product except
> three things:
> 1. The cost of Computer hardware itself was prohibitive for every consumer
> 2. There was limited software that appealed to the consumer
> 3. There wasn't the production capacity to produce machines.
> The 5.25" floppy was around quite some time before APPLE picked up and
> added them to the ]['s.   We use to use them on the VAX's, the Mica's and
> the ESC4500s.

>From memory: What Steve Wozniac at Apple did was to take the complex
electronics needed to drive these 5.25 disk-drives, and compress it all into
four chips, which made the whole system economical an affordable.

Apple's main achievements were in bringing down the cost of PC to a point
where we could afford to buy them for home use.

Actually, this whole discussion just illustrates the point that no single
step on a ladder is more important than the others.  In the history of the
development of PCs, computers, or communications in general, you can find
thousands of inventions or developments which were necessary before the next
stage could be reached.  Some might appear trivial, but they might also be
essential, before the next step is possible.

That's why I don't like a Heroic view of History that constantly promotes
Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, and Samuel Morse as
the inventor of telegraphy - when both were little more than shonky

Overall, the real driving force behind the whole computing and
communications phenomenon has been the development of precision mechanics.

And this had had its effects over a much wider area of our society than just
computing.  Nano technology is just an extension of the 2000+ year long "Age
of Precision" which began (apparently) about 100 BC with the Antikythera
Mechanism mentioned recently by KIm.

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

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