"His stuff was beloved, but it wasn't that he was beloved." Read the rest
Research outfit Gartner tracked a 9.5 percent decline in shipments in the second quarter of this year compared to the same time a year ago, posting a tally of 68.4 million units. Meanwhile, researchers at IDC, which doesn’t count tablets in its report, calculated an 11.8 percent drop year-over-year to 66.1 million PCs shipped. To put that number into context, Apple said in its most recent earnings report that it had sold 61 million iPhones during the same quarter—and that’s just one smartphone from one (massively popular) company.
Can you guess which PC maker saw growth? Read the rest
To Britons of a certain age, the BBC Micro was a legendary 8-bit computer perfect for learning to code (and to play with between lessons). The public broadcaster's Micro Bit will be its spiritual sequel.
The tiny 4cm device has an ARM CPU, bluetooth and a USB port, through which it can be powered.
Uniquely, it has a series of 25 LED lights to help young children get instant results and appreciate its simple programmability, said to be a key differentiator between the Micro:bit and more elaborate devices such as the Raspberry Pi.
It also has an accelerometer, a motion detector, a compass, and and an array of inputs for more sensors to be attached. The wee board is 18 times faster than the original BBC Micro, which recently celebrated its 33rd birthday—and about 600 times lighter. The BBC will reportedly give a million Micro:bits to kids in the UK. Read the rest
The London Review of Books visited Austin and learned some fascinating things about hardware depreciation:
‘This IBM mainframe was $8.7 million in 1983,’ he told me when I went to see them. ‘Which in today’s money is $24 million. I mean, that’s astronomical. And they’re scrapped after four years. That’s it. Scrap.’ He points to another. ‘The Fujitsu supercomputer, I think it depreciated at £16,000 a week for three years. Then it was zero.’ Behind the IBM and the Fujitsu are more machines: DECs, Wangs. ‘I just take them all home. I preserve them. I just collect them, because I like them. And I’ve got the sheds, so I just put them in.’
The visit to Austin's shrines to obsolescence makes for almost poetic reading -- especially the story of 2005's 64th-fastest machine in the world, whose former owner traded away half its processor boards for chocolate bars. Read the rest
NVIDIA made an interesting video to market their graphics processing tech by showing how it can be used to debunk conspiracy claims that the 1969 lunar landing was faked. (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest
Above, video evidence of my short presentation "Just Say Know: A Cyberdelic History of the Future" at the recent Lift Conference 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938 in Switzerland so this felt like the right set and setting to share stories about the intersection of psychedelic culture and computer technology from the 1960s to the present and beyond! Read the rest
Jeffrey Stephenson's most elegant handmade PC yet comprises 167 handcut veneers, made of quilted maple, mahogany, lacewood and "aircraft grade birch plywood." Inside is a Gigabyte Thin Mini-ITX motherboard with an Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB RAM and a 60GB SSD, but specs hardly matter when the chassis is so beautiful. [Slipperyskip] Read the rest