1966 Mag: Build NE-2 Neon Bulb Computer - scan available

Jules Richardson julesrichardsonuk at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Jul 18 03:27:26 CDT 2007

Fred Cisin wrote:
> I never had any trouble with toasters with fold down sides, not even the
> new-fangled electric ones.  But ever since I replaced mine with ones with
> slots that "pop-up", I've never had good control of toasting, nor
> reliable operation.

When I'm not in a rush, I tend to use a fork and hold the bread over the 
burner on the stove - no even toasting there, but somehow it just tastes so 
much nicer than any toaster I've yet come across.

> Yes, I was VERY unimpressed with the early Macintosh credo
> of "a computer should be as easy to use as a toaster".

Self-contained solutions are great when:

1) The system's reliable and bug-free,
2) The user never wants to expand the system beyond what the designers envisaged.

Sadly I've never come across a system which meets those criteria.

> Some years ago, I replaced all of my rotary phones, because of the
> prevalence of "voice mazes".  I've got a Uniden cordless that works well
> for me, but I've never found a cellphone with comparable sound quality.

The one next to me here is a rotary (1967 I think, a GPO 706) - when I get 
time it'll be replaced by my 1940's one (a 162), but as I need to wire up a 
separate bell set for that one it's one of those things I never quite seem to 
get around to!

> Sometimes I think that modern product engineering just doesn't have
> somebody like me in mind.

Personally I think it just doesn't have human nature in mind. People are 
always going to want to use systems in ways that the designers didn't intend. 
The trick I think is to make these things *possible*, but not at the expense 
of piling in lots of functionality and features from the outset (with all the 
extra cost, complexity, and risk of bugs creeping in when comes from that).

Keep it simple, keep it 'open' (to use a modern term), and acknowledge that 
people are going to want to hack, kludge and expand in ways that you never 
thought of. That's where a good product lies, not with something that tries to 
be all things to all people and ends up doing none of them well.

To bring this back on topic, look at vintage micros - the most successful ones 
were always the ones where people could modify them and add bits on to suit 
their own personal needs.



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