I’ve been getting some positive feedback lately about my “Interesting Times” articles, so I thought I’d repost some pointers to them. The column itself is, sadly, now defunct, but new material crops up now and then; I’ve decided to post it here instead. In retrospect, the way this blog/forum is organized could use a few revisions, but that’s not likely to happen very soon.

So, “Highly Advanced But Obsolete” talks about the QI900, which was an 8-bit CP/M-based computer I helped design in the middle-80s:

…the Z80 was too slow for a fully graphical interface, and we hadn’t the mechanical know-how to build a mouse.

…here’s the final result: the QI-900 had menus…

…and moveable windows…

…and, even better than the original Macintosh, it had preemptive multitasking – or rather, multithreading inside the same application.

I promised a follow-up article with more details, but never had the time to do the necessary research. Maybe later in the year.

Everybody’s favorite seems to be, however, “This Internet isn’t worth anything…“, where I tell some stories about setting up a commercial ISP in the early 90s:

(At Embratel – that was the government’s telecomm monopoly)

Me: “I want an Internet connection.”

Embratel Salesman: “OK. I suggest a 2400 or 9600 link, the price will be X cents per packet. That’s 20% of what it costs to send a TELEX. Isn’t that revolutionary?”

Me: “A packet means how many Kbytes?”

Embratel Salesman: “What? It’s 64 bytes per packet!”

Me: “And if a user decides to download a larger file, say, 500 Kbytes? It’ll cost hundreds of dollars!”

Embratel Salesman: “Don’t worry, that will never happen!”