TITLE: "Don't Break the Phone; Fix the Computer" AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 24, 2012 11:38 AM DESC: ----- BODY: Rob Pike in The Set-Up:
Twenty years ago, you expected a phone to be provided everywhere you went, and that phone worked the same everywhere. At a friend's house, or a restaurant, or a hotel, or a pay phone, you could pick up the receiver and make a call. You didn't carry a phone around with you; phones were part of the infrastructure. Computers, well, that was a different story. As laptops came in, people started carrying computers around with them everywhere. The reason was to have the state stored on the computer, not the computer itself. You carry around a computer so you can access its disk. In summary, it used to be that phones worked without you having to carry them around, but computers only worked if you did carry one around with you. The solution to this inconsistency was to break the way phones worked rather than fix the way computers work.
Ah, the memories of grad school, WYSE terminals, and VT-100 emulation. The advent of ubiquitous networking is making it possible for us to return to the days of dumb terminals. Is that where we want to live? Pike's vision notwithstanding: I still carry a computer, both for state and processor. I access networked computers frequently. I do not yet carry a phone. I remain happy. -----