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Reply 60 of 81, by Errius

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I always assumed 'micro'computers were called that because they were smaller than minicomputers.

Mainframe = Fills an entire room
Mini = Fills the corner of a room
Micro = Sits on your desk

“I like to dissect PCs. Don't you know I'm utterly insane?"

Reply 61 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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weedeewee wrote on 2022-05-07, 20:32:
It also depend on how much of the earth population you consider the masses. 😉 […]
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ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 20:20:
weedeewee wrote on 2022-05-07, 20:16:

ThinkpadIL, both 😀

It depends on what kind of occupation one considers a business. 🙂

It also depend on how much of the earth population you consider the masses. 😉

Some people used a toy computer to start their business, others made games on them, still others used their business computer to make games and yet others used their business computer for business.
In hindsight, I should've said all four 😁

Well, if for someone toy is enough for doing serious things, then why not! But it doesn't mean that toy becomes a serious tool.

For example, there are some developing countries where surgeons are using tools from building store instead of using special medical ones, since they are capable of doing the same job but cost much cheaper. 🙂

Reply 62 of 81, by 386SX

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Interesting discussion and something that I usually think about comparing these modern tech times with the old ones. Back in the 80's I wasn't old enough to make an opinion on this subject and the only people I knew having a Commodore 64 here in EU were using it (and their friends too) mostly if not only as game consoles. Period. But I suppose the things might have been different depending on where this computer were used and the marketing around it. The C64 has been indeed an impressively well sold machine but I don't expect any business saving tasks really running on those even in their times. Which doesn't mean that office task I suppose didn't have any reason to run on them as a new way of working instead of papers and calculators.
It's not like the portable calculator disappeared too, still was/is a useful and fast way of solving problems.

But I wonder if the 'home computer' logic imho has been just a new business territory that like others things created later started as a very specific expert oriented (not necessary needed but at least usable) "new" product that soon not magically became something consumer oriented someway similar but more advanced while often still not needed "new TV" to add to the already existing home TV.

While indeed a good point might have been to increase a user interest on that new tech at the point someone might have choosen the IT road as a personal study/work road which imho has been really the best part of the 'home computer' existing itself. Anyway I would consider most machines (and why not even the real game consoles sometimes quite powerful and expandable themself) as 'home computers' cause they in a way or another could have had different usage if they were programmed for it and if really needed (with limitations of course a floppy, CD or some fixed memory disk would be the basic requirement along an external communication port); free time gaming might have been the more common for some but if it was needed they could have been used for much more. Like an advanced calculator that is only used to make basic operations instead of the complex ones.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-05-08, 10:11. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 63 of 81, by Tetrium

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-05-06, 11:27:
Hard to say, I think. […]
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Hard to say, I think.

Some people say "PC" means anything IBM PC/WinTel.
To them the IBM Model 5150 was the first "PC" evarrr. Period.
Apple II? Commodore PET? IMSAI 8080? What's that?

At the same time, there are PC users who consider Macintoshs being PCs, as well.

Other say that a "Personal Computer" can be any computer that's used privately / for personal use.

That again eclipsed home computers like the C64, too, which even had "Personal Computer" written on the box art.

Last, but not least, there were many many Z80 computers that could run CP/M - the defacto Personal Computer OS of the 70s/80s.
However, that again is seen as a flaw in the Matrix by today's PC owners:
How on earth can an 8-Bit computer system be a PC?
The IBM PC (-that story again-) was 16-Bit to begin with!

Edit: Personally, I do consider the Commodore 128 (the 128D) to be a real Personal Computer, at least. 😉

Edit: Funfact.. The company known as VTech used to make both home computers and IBM PC compatibles under its Laser brand.
In the 90s, it pretty much became a toy computer (aka learning computer) company.

Edit: Another definition for "PCs" I can think of :
PCs do have a proper keyboard and a video sub-system that can display text properly.
Say 80 columns (80x24 or 80x25).

Mass storage in the form of a HDD, maybe, is required too. Expandibility, also, maybe.

This is some good thoughts right there 🙂

For me personally I've always considered anything IBM PC compatible (so basically standard PC compatible) as PCs.
Then again I noticed early on during my dumpsterdiving days that IBM PCs were actually not very PC compatible (microchannel? non-standard cases and other non-standard formfactors? Heck even their floppy drives didn't have standard PC connectors 🤣 (sad about all those IBM incompatibe IBM 2.88MB floppy drives that ended up getting wasted :'( )) but I basically just argued it was IBM trying to de-standardize the standard so they could make more money in which they ended up failing (in how to a greater degree Rambus failed at a similar feat as well and the PC standard DDR ended up winning that standardization 'battle').

So I didn't consider a Mac to be a PC, but this line also blurred once Apple started using Intel x86 CPUs resulting in Windows actually being natively supported.
Then there's also the thinning of the actual meaning of terms that used to be set in stone and this can either be a good thing or it could lead to lexical impoverishment or whatever one could call it similarly to how "GPU" isn't an NVidia exclusive thing anymore and even that '''''fact''''' is open for debate.

Personally I do consider 8-bit to be not PC-excluding by default.
There is however that I didn't really understand computers (home or PC or whatever) at the time. I did type some stray DOS or other commands on those amber or orange colored screens because I knew that's what I needed to do to get a game going but we never owned any real computer until I got my first own PC which was a Deschutes 350 with Windows 98FE. So my personal experience with computers from, what could be considered something of an experimental era of computing, the 1980s and early 1990s is rather limited.
I didn't have the technical knowhow at the time and only retrograde-thought it myself when I started dumpsterdiving old abandoned systems to take apart and google the part numbers. While doing this I had basically no idea what I was doing 😂, I found an Intel Overdrive and remember being awe-struck by the pretty anodized purple-but-almost-black heatsink and could barely contain my curiosity before getting home and actually being able to google the part number and boy did I read a lot of info back then!

I at some point decided to focus on PC standard parts only because I just couldn't keep spare parts for a dozen different standards in a bedroom measuring a mere 2 by 3 meters 🤣
At some point even my bed was used as storage and I slept on literally half a matras 😆so I had to make some tough choices and focussed on PC stuff only. And for me PC stuff was about individual parts that basically shared a same evolutionary path (AT followed into ATX so both these were imo standard PC. Commodore and ZX Spectrum and stuff like that was not and I just gutted those systems because I had to make a choice of what to take and what to leave behind and nobody cared about those systems back then anyway).

So for me personally PC standard is in essence everything from the earliest IBM PC to the modern PCs that share the same evolutionary path.

Whats missing in your collections?
My retro rigs (old topic)
Interesting Vogons threads (links to Vogonswiki)
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Reply 64 of 81, by Tetrium

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weedeewee wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:57:

Speaking of toys.
Who doesn't like some boot off of a vinyl record 😁
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqz65_YfcJg

I didn't know this existed but I'm glad I do know now 😂

I still want an internal LPROM drive btw 😜

Whats missing in your collections?
My retro rigs (old topic)
Interesting Vogons threads (links to Vogonswiki)
Report spammers here!

Reply 65 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Tetrium wrote on 2022-05-08, 09:58:
weedeewee wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:57:

Speaking of toys.
Who doesn't like some boot off of a vinyl record 😁
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqz65_YfcJg

I didn't know this existed but I'm glad I do know now 😂

I still want an internal LPROM drive btw 😜

Well, internal LPROM would be great, but it won't be so practical. Computer says that standard 12" 33 RPM vinyl record can have a playtime of roughly 22 minutes per side for a total of 44 minutes and a 7" 45 RPM record can fit approximately 5 minutes per side for a total of 10 minutes. So portable turntable is more realistic solution. But what about vinyl disc recorder cutter? Those are very expensive.

If you want a weird data storage solution, go for a paper tape puncher/reader. They cost significantly cheaper and also mostly use a standard RS232 port. I have one.🙂

Just take a look at this amazing machine!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a38BZ4NuIeg

Video is not mine.

Reply 66 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Ok, I think the time has come to make a conclusion (at least to myself).

After hearing pros and cons here and making a research on the Internet my conclusion is as follows:

Home Computers of the late 70's, 80's and early 90's were mostly 8-bit machines. If first 8-bit computers were mostly experimental machines that could be compared to Raspberry Pi based projects of today, very fast they developed into two main lines - Business Computers (for example Osborne 1, Kaypro II, Epson QX-10 etc.) and Home Computers (for example Atari 400/800, ZX-80/81/Spectrum, Commodore 64/128 etc.).

Business Computers in most cases were coming with CP/M operating system, monochrome display and from the start were intended to be used for boring office activities only. Home Computers on the other hand from the start were intended to be used at home for two main activities - learning programming in Basic and gaming.

Later there were attempts to enter business market with modified Home Computers. Some of the attempts were successful (for example TRS-80 Model I --> TRS-80 Model III) and some were fails (for example Commodore 64 --> Commodore SX-64). There were also attempts to go in opposite direction (for example IBM PC --> IBM PCjr) though those were already a next generation 16-bit machines. During those attempts were developed few hardware and software add-ons which supposed to make Home Computer machines to look like a serious machine. For example for Commodore 64 was developed GEOS package, CP/M cartridge, Commodore 1351 mouse ets. Those attempts helped Commodore 64 to become some kind of Personal Computer for home use that was able to do almost anything, from word processing and spreadsheets to math calculations, music composing, BBS communication and commercial software development (games mostly). Though it was mostly suitable for students and freelancers, since there are not so many evidences of making use of Commodore 64 machines in offices.

Who knows, if there wasn't such thing as a technical progress, maybe in couple of decades Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum would become serious machines suitable for business use too, but the 90's have arrived and prices for 16-bit and 32-bit IBM PC compatible Business Machines started dropping and dropping fast. So, in 1995 most of the ordinary people could afford that kind or another of an IBM PC compatible machine and the glorious history of Home Computers like Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum ended instantly. End of story.

Reply 68 of 81, by rmay635703

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My father was required to have a high end (for the early 80’s) programmable scientific calculator long skinny thing with a brown plastic slip in case.

It was said to be more powerful than some of the home computers and some would program basic and the like on them

Reply 69 of 81, by Shreddoc

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rmay635703 wrote on 2022-05-11, 23:29:

My father was required to have a high end (for the early 80’s) programmable scientific calculator long skinny thing with a brown plastic slip in case.

It was said to be more powerful than some of the home computers and some would program basic and the like on them

I remember being an engineering office junior in the early 2000's. The senior staff still had their 1980s/90s model calculators. On a couple of occasions, I was given the grunt work of re-programming their accidentally reset calculators.

Got handed a 5 page printout of BASIC program, and told, "manually type that into the calculator". Tap tap tap ... two tedious hours later, done, sigh.

But that's the thing. Digital computing devices could be arguably be considered relatively frivolous or toylike for some types of jobs, certainly in the early years. But for the jobs which explicitly rely upon a high amount of mathematics, formula calculations, reductions, and similar - the technology was truly job changing (and in some instances, job eliminating).

You only need go back about 50 years, to routinely see entire offices filled with workers busily beavering away with pen, paper, logarithm books and slide rules, as the "back end" to all kinds of complex operations.

Reply 71 of 81, by Shreddoc

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Errius wrote on 2022-05-12, 00:36:

Exactly, though even in those industries it didn't filter down to the average worker until the 80's and 90's. Indeed, we (points around the room at everyone here, or at least, those of us whose working careers included any time between 1980 and 2010) are the very people, the early adopters and enthusiasts, who went on to implement and mentor this "personal" tech to the masses.

Part of the image disconnect is that the ~1980's personal computing uptake is ultimately characterized by shiny images of suit-wearing Yuppies striding Wall Street, or execs sitting in their fancy wood panel offices (where you can guarantee there's not a lot of maths being done!), and that-all is indeed a bullshit hype image which reflects very little about the actual truth of the PC uptake.

The one whose job most changed - and the clue is in the name, given we're talking about Technology - is the actual Technician. The technical worker, who does calculations and plans and such, before handing them over to the wood panel offices, the executives and seniors, enabling them to make their important decisions and moves in record time and detail.

Reply 72 of 81, by BitWrangler

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I smell revisionist BS...

For instance many kids use tablets or smartphones today as basically a toy, but it has the power of a mid noughties desktop. So mid noughties desktops must have been toys.

Maybe some kids never exploited their machines beyond games, but "basically a toy" applies to any system anywhere that can run a game, PDP series, oh "they" played spacewar and colossal cave adventure on it, so it was basically a toy... 286 ran Wolf3D, so it was a toy... Rich kid with an i9 or Ryzen 9 only runs Fortnite, so all of those are toys.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 73 of 81, by gerry

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ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:30:

Home Computers of the late 70's, 80's and early 90's were mostly 8-bit machines. If first 8-bit computers were mostly experimental machines that could be compared to Raspberry Pi based projects of today, very fast they developed into two main lines - Business Computers (for example Osborne 1, Kaypro II, Epson QX-10 etc.) and Home Computers (for example Atari 400/800, ZX-80/81/Spectrum, Commodore 64/128 etc.).

pretty good summary! 😀

Business Computers in most cases were coming with CP/M operating system, monochrome display and from the start were intended to be used for boring office activities only. Home Computers on the other hand from the start were intended to be used at home for two main activities - learning programming in Basic and gaming.

Yes, they kind of overlapped a little bit but essentially yes

So, in 1995 most of the ordinary people could afford that kind or another of an IBM PC compatible machine and the glorious history of Home Computers like Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum ended instantly. End of story.

it's amazing how long some of those 8 bit computers carried on for, i mean in terms of game releases - well into the 90's when there were already 16 bit consoles, the ST and Amiga were established and the IBM compatible PC was slowly gaining popularity in homes. I think the 8 bit era ended in a fairly rapid decline from around 1991 to the mid 90's. Of course there are new things after that, but the mass market quickly became a tiny niche in that time

Reply 74 of 81, by Jo22

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BitWrangler wrote on 2022-05-12, 03:36:

I smell revisionist BS... [..]

Well, that's the dilemma. History itself may not change, but our definitions of it do.
Remember that "history is written by the winners" line?

Some people, I guess, associate this with Germany and the lost war (gratefully, btw, otherwise I hadn't been born).
However, what if Germany had won WW2? Would the history books still tell the same, uhm, truth as they do now?

That's the problem with history. You can name and documents events easily, but as soon as judgment is involved, people start to develop different views. Which isn't bad per se.

So yes, a 286/386 in 1990 was usually seen as a full-fledged PC.
But as what was it seen in 2000? A door stopper, piece of old metal?

Different generations or cultures may or may not have the same perception of things.
People from hundred s of years ago didn't have pets, for example.
They held cats and dogs for a special purpose. They were "things" to them. Well, for most of them. Sure there were people feeling like us, too, albeit rare.
Then cats and dogs became pets to us. Nowadays, they're like family members to us, even, and we finally acknowledge their feelings and self awareness.
This is a big development in human history, I think.
However, someone could call us revisionists, too, because our point of view conflicts
with tens of thousands of years of human history in which animals were merely seen as objects.

Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-07, 05:21:
I get what you're referring to. […]
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Jo22 wrote on 2022-05-07, 03:53:
Yes and no. I mean, you're not wrong. You're thinking of 256c stuff an VBE, I guess. But I think of Standard VGA, mode 12h, as u […]
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Yes and no. I mean, you're not wrong. You're thinking of 256c stuff an VBE, I guess.
But I think of Standard VGA, mode 12h, as used by DOS applications in general.

640x480 in 16c was supported way down to 1987.
Also, Super VGA in 800x600 in 16c was a very popular mode, predating VBE a bit.
It even has two mode numbers in VBE (6Ah and 102h) which is unique.

The only "issue" was detecting the correct mode number of the SVGA - the memory layout was the same among OAK, Trident, Paradise etc cards.

I believe, that's why it was possible that there was a single 800x600 16c SVGA driver in Windows 3.10 already:
It wasn't much trouble to implement. No palette or memory issues.

To get things like Wonderland (Magnetic Scrolls) running in SVGA on non-supported cards is a matter of modifying the executable with a hex editor.

That being said, the VGA CRTC was very flexible.
People reprogrammed the EGA/VGA drivers of older OSes like Windows 1.0 or GEM to use a VBE mode number.
That works, as long as the default settings don't require much alteration.

Anyway, that being said, the lack of commercial Standard VGA games did put me in the odd situation
that foreign PC-98 games in 640x400 16c did look more sane or used to me than our low-res DOS games that we had.

Edit: I'll soon add some screenshots of the 640x480 DOS games that I remember.

I get what you're referring to.

Wish that the 640x480 16 color mode was used a bit more with DOS games especially that VGA can change the color palette and would have led to interesting things but alas many stuck with the CGA 16 color palette.

The 800x600 16 color mode that originated with the Paradise SVGA was quite popular among various video cards. It was very easy to write a TSR that emulates it by just calling the VESA equivalent because it doesn't require bank switching for the memory layout. Sadly, the same can't be said with early SVGA 256 color modes unless the non-standard CRTC registers were compatible.

I have done this with PC Paintbrush and several of these Moraff's DOS games. 😁

Thanks for your understanding, that's what I meant. 😄

What I also remember are some oddball VGA resolutions from the demoscene. Say 320x400 or 360x480.
They work most with every generic VGAs, but weren't necessarily "monitor safe" . Whatever thst meant.

Albeit, the 320x400 was just a little hack that involved disabling VGA's line doubling feature; bevause due to it 320x200 is seen as 320x400 by the monitor, anyway.
So using these 200 lines didn't change the signal?

Anyway, it's kinda sad it wasn't used more.
Perhaps people in these days just didn't know it was possible, not sure.
The image quality with twice the lines already makes things so much better in my modest opinion.

-I've attached some sample pictures for demonstration, hope that's okay. 😅

Edit: I forgot to mention.. I had taken photos from a 19" VGA CRT.

Edit: I also forgot - photos were reduced by 50%, bevause they were too large to fit as attachments.

Edit: Some typos fixed. Also, I hope the picture isn't being perceived as offensive, whatsoever. Someone has to be careful with that these days.. 😅
I've found it on the internet and thought it's pretty colorful. 😅
So it's ideal for testing, as a wallpaper etc. Also, if some of you know the author, please let me know, so I can give credit.

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"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 75 of 81, by Gmlb256

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-05-13, 18:53:

What I also remember are some oddball VGA resolutions from the demoscene. Say 320x400 or 360x480.
They work most with every generic VGAs, but weren't necessarily "monitor safe" . Whatever thst meant.

That's one of the reasons why I'm using a CRT monitor for old computers. Oddball resolutions are something not many people are aware of.

Albeit, the 320x400 was just a little hack that involved disabling VGA's line doubling feature; bevause due to it 320x200 is seen as 320x400 by the monitor, anyway.
So using these 200 lines didn't change the signal?

Yes, the signal was the same with 320x200 and 320x400 in most cases. It also applies for 320x480 which is using the same hack for 320x240.

Anyway, it's kinda sad it wasn't used more.
Perhaps people in these days just didn't know it was possible, not sure.
The image quality with twice the lines already makes things so much better in my modest opinion.

They looked quite hi-res despite not adding additional horizontal lines with an adequate aspect ratio and scaling.

-I've attached some sample pictures for demonstration, hope that's okay. 😅 […]
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-I've attached some sample pictures for demonstration, hope that's okay. 😅

Edit: I forgot to mention.. I had taken photos from a 19" VGA CRT.

Edit: I also forgot - photos were reduced by 50%, bevause they were too large to fit as attachments.

Edit: Some typos fixed. Also, I hope the picture isn't being perceived as offensive, whatsoever. Someone has to be careful with that these days.. 😅
I've found it on the internet and thought it's pretty colorful. 😅
So it's ideal for testing, as a wallpaper etc. Also, if some of you know the author, please let me know, so I can give credit.

Nice! The differences in each resolution can be noticed in that picture that looks like from an anime. 😁

I don't know the author though.

Reply 76 of 81, by Jo22

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-13, 19:43:

They looked quite hi-res despite not adding additional horizontal lines with an adequate aspect ratio and scaling.

Exactly my thoughts! I think I've seen that first time in this demoscene production.. 😀
https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=4261

Edit: @Everyone Speaking of PC vs not-PC.. Do or did people make an distinction between a Desktop PC (Desktop Computer) and a Tower PC? 🤷‍♂️
Back in the 90s, I always had a picture of a computer in a desktop case in my head, if some talked about a "Desktop PC".
A tower PC was something separate to me. A tower was that huge beast of a chassis that roamed under the table (imagine a 486 era big tower).
Or in rare cases, stood besides the somewhat tiny monitor on the table.

Edit: I hope that wasn't too off-topic. If so, please ignore.
Can't concentrate myself for some reasons.
Thoughts always wander back and forth. 😑

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 77 of 81, by rmay635703

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Towers became the custom built Pc while desktops stayed OEM then became less popular

After I stopped buying OEM all my systems were towers, you just didn’t buy a desktop (even if you used the tower as a desktop)

I remember a long time that if you ordered a PC out of computer shopper you were stuck with a tower (mini or mid) to get the deal, your options for desktop were limited and usually cost more.
The places I liked to buy from didn’t carry desktop cases at all.

Odder still a big tower (like gateway sold) was some type of status symbol even though there was nothing particularly different about the system specs.

I remember our lab had one of those massively tall towers with a 386dx hooked up to an external flash card reader and a lab view two floppies and a 14” monitor.
No reason to have a floor model the top of which was level with the table given it didn’t have a load of internal drives, maybe they thought it looked cooler?

Reply 79 of 81, by darry

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2022-05-15, 21:26:

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates said “the computer a tool to bring the smartest people together and help solve world problems”.

And, unfortunately for us, it can also be a tool to bring the dumbest people together to create new problems that nobody in the world is smart enough to solve . 😉