Threads for johnblood

    1. 3

      I wonder who would vote -1 spam on this?

      1. 4

        Not sure. Personally, I’m not a fan of a company pretending that they need donations to continue development of a popular program, but then use that money for political stuff. Seems kinda disingenuous.

      2. 4

        Because it’s both off-topic and a hit piece.

    2. 1

      Are BYTE archives online somewhere? I used to have an issue that talked about the new one micrometre process (yes, micro, not nano) and how we were at the smallest possible feature size and we’d hit a crashing stop in a handful of generations. I remember rereading it around the time the 60nm process was introduced and I want to print it and put it on my wall as a reminder about hubris.

      1. 1

        They’re on the internet archive. I think it’s the full collection, too.

    3. 2

      Cool cat Wirth was rocking that look. Joe Cocker vibes right there.

      But seriously, thanks for sharing. I try to read influential programmer’s interviews, and this one’s new to me.

    4. 2

      That’s a great-looking keyboard. Wonder how they feel.

      1. 3

        “PCjr” and “great-looking keyboard” in the same thought is so funny to me.

        1. 1

          Looks like they had two options for the JX? The one in the ad doesn’t look like a traditional PCjr keyboard to me.

          But yeah - the original keyboard was an odd one.

          1. 1

            From the ad:

            Choose the keyboard that suits you

            The IBM JX offers you the choice of two precision-touch keyboards. They both use the proven IBM Selectric typewriter layout to help make typing quicker and more comfortable; both have an infra-red remote option.

      2. 2

        I recall them being “okay” - not in the same league as those (presumably Model M) fitted to the PS/2 model 30s.

    5. 5

      I had only heard of Wang Laboratories after working through Writing an OS in Rust and getting to the VGA Text Buffer section, where it mentions that QEMU’s text buffer isn’t ASCII, but specifically a character set named code page 437.

      From the wikipedia entry:

      The repertoire of code page 437 was taken from the character set of Wang word-processing machines, according to Bill Gates in an interview with Gates and Paul Allen that appeared in the 2 October 1995 edition of Fortune Magazine:

      “… We were also fascinated by dedicated word processors from Wang, because we believed that general-purpose machines could do that just as well. That’s why, when it came time to design the keyboard for the IBM PC, we put the funny Wang character set into the machine—you know, smiley faces and boxes and triangles and stuff. We were thinking we’d like to do a clone of Wang word-processing software someday.”

      And you can still use the character set on QEMU to this day!

      1. 3

        I’m sure that Dr. Wang would be glad to know that his company had some impact of modern computing, small though it is.

    6. 3

      Oh wow, a weird old computer system I haven’t heard of, but was sold in the US? Thanks!

      1. 3

        That’s my job. Sadly, there are a bunch of those.

        1. 1

          You have my dream job. ;)

          My current system in that vein that I’d like to get my hands on is a Corvus Concept.

          I missed a Canon Cat bid on eBay by less than $50 a while back too.

          1. 2

            Corvus Concept

            That’s an interesting unit. The design reminds me of the Xerox Altair.

          2. 2

            I’d love to own one of each of the things I write about. Then I could ensure that all this neat stuff would not be forgotten.

    7. 6

      It’s funny that for the ad they use the American mispronunciation of Wang with the æ of cat instead of ah. “Wang” and “Wong” are the same name; it’s just different transcriptions of the same vowel. It means King in Chinese, so they could have also called it Royal Computers or King Computers or something if they wanted it to sound less foreign to Americans, but I guess they wanted the real name of Dr. Wang but they didn’t care enough to have it pronounced correctly.

      1. 1

        I am 55 years old and I only learned this now. Fascinating. Thank you!

        1. 1

          You never stop learning. Or so I’ve been told.

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            I try not to.

    8. 1

      I’ll have to find it but I watched a fun video series on YouTube of a project restoring an old WANG. The keyboard technology was especially interesting to me and the user interface for the word processing was actually pretty good and intuitive for a machine of that era and power.

      1. 3

        Perhaps that was Usagi Electric’s series? Not as good as his Centurion stuff, but enjoyable.

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          Very cool

        2. 1

          Yep! That was it. Thank you. And yeah I enjoyed the Centurion stuff as well. :)

    9. 7

      My parents had a single user WANG word processor (about 20 years after it was out of date). It was the size of a mini fridge and had a green screen terminal and a giant daisy-wheel printer. They got it for free. I was fascinated with it and thought it must be the most powerful computer ever. It was not!

      1. 3

        That’s interesting. I’m willing to bet that they got it from a business that was updating their tech. Did you every use it to write a Christmas list or something fun?

        1. 3

          More or less! They rented out a spare room to be used as a person’s office, and the guy left it when he left. Again, this was a good 15-20 years after the machine was obsolete.

          1. 1

            That’s hilarious. “It’s going to cost a fortune to move this computer. You want it?” “I guess. We’re not taking out of the rent you owe us.”

    10. 2

      OMG my parents totally had one of these, and yes they did use it to protect the Apple II.

      1. 0


    11. 2

      The $139 pricepoint was a bit of a shock for a seemingly minor add-on on top of Windows, what was Windows going for back then?

        1. 1

          So $149 for full Windows or $139 for fake Windows? I’ll take the real thing (if my system can run it).

          1. 1

            Didn’t this run as a program in Win 3.1?

    12. 1

      That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. My first word processor!

      1. 1

        Glad to reawaken old memories. I hope they are good memories.

    13. 2

      Clearly we’re all reading from the same substack, but for the 2 of you who aren’t and find this old stuff fascinating, here’s a link.

      1. 2

        Thanks for adding the link. Also, thanks for subscribing.

    14. 2

      I used it for a little while before I switched to Linux. I don’t think I ended up using it too much, though I did manage it get UUCP set up and tested out, but you weren’t allowed to use it for regular email and Usenet news. That user manual was quite the door-stopper though.

      1. 2

        Coherent is definitely an interesting part of computer history.

      2. 1

        Wait, if you had UUCP set up and working, why weren’t you allowed to use it for regular email and Usenet news?

        1. 2

          I should have been more clear. Mark Williams provided a dial-in number for a test setup for UUCP, but it didn’t connect to the rest of the world. So you’d have to sign up with another provider (such as, if you remember them) for regular mail and news service.

    15. 2

      Hey I remember coherent! The company I worked for back in the 90s (NCM) produced protocol co-processor cards for TCP/IP, and we had software for Coherent to support our card.

      It was one of the craziest *NIX variants we supported in terms of being farthest from the AT&T System V base.

      1. 2

        Very cool. It must have seen some success if your company wrote drivers for it.

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          You have to look at it in the context of its time. Back when Coherent was relevant, most PC versions of UNIX cost hundreds and thousands of dollars.

          a *NIX clone for $99? That was game changing.

          So yeah, admittedly it was a bit of a niche market but given that it was pretty successful :)

    16. 4

      The book that accompanied the software, and that we see in the advert, played a big part in my career. I was a mainframe (IBM) person with SAP R/2 experience (along with all sorts of MVS based OS and tool experience) about to move to SAP R/3 that ran on various Unixes, of which at the time I knew nothing. I got Coherent, not sure that I even installed it immediately, but took the book on holiday with me and read it, pretty much cover to cover. A few weeks later I was in Heidelberg staring at the (green terminal) screen of an HP-UX based early SAP R/3 installation. And I was ready.

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        So, the manual turned you into a UNIX disciple? So, they did make their mark, just not in the way they wanted.

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          Not so much a disciple, but I have grown to admire the UNIX design and legacy.

    17. 2

      I just missed Coherent; I went from the Mac to NeXT to Linux right around that time. I always wanted to spend the $100 but by the time I could afford it, I was already using a NeXT cube at work, so.

      1. 1

        You were sooo close.

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          I know! I remember reading Byte and seeing those ads and thinking, hmmm.

          1. 1

            Me too – but back then, I used ARM kit, not PCs.

            When I finally did reluctantly switch to x86 machines, I tried and failed to install Slackware, so I ended up using OS/2 2.0 for several years. No-cost xNix beat low-cost xNix, I’m afraid…

            And in the early 1990s, OS/2 2.x easily beat Linux. It had a GUI, and a pretty good one. I wasn’t interested in networking or dial-up or internet yet.

            (US readers may not realise that dial-up access was way bigger in the USA than anywhere else, because basically every other country in the world paid for local calls as well, so dial-up was metered, by the minute. Downloading a web browser over a modem could cost $30-40 in call charges. So shareware etc. didn’t thrive because it was simply too expensive to download.)

            I wanted a multitasking GUI and the ability to run DOS apps (and at a push Windows ones); I wasn’t terribly interested in arcane xNix stuff. I did that at work, on SCO Xenix, running multiuser accounting suites for dozens of users on Wyse dumb terminals. No networking, no GUI, no C compiler. I knew xNix, and it was frankly really dull.

    18. 1

      Why has nobody cashed in by making a new (Space|King’s) Quest?

    19. 3

      I remember a game called Le Manoir de Mortevielle, a detective/mystery game where all the dialogs were synthesized (not a single line of text for any dialog!) and it fitted on a floppy disk. We spent many hours with a friend on the Amiga 500 version…

      1. 1

        That’s a very interesting way to do it. I wonder how well it sold.

    20. 4

      To have things come somewhat full circle, there’s also a MicroPython port for the BBC micro:bit, based on the C version.