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The Summer of 1998

Posted by joshy on April 10, 2006 at 4:08 PM PDT

Some time ago I wrote an article for Slashdot discussing Be, Apple, and the future of operating systems. The mention of Be should indicate just how far ago this was. The other day I decided to try to find the article both to find out if I was at all correct in my conclusions, and to see if my writing has improved at all. Well, I couldn't find the relevant article, as Slashdot's archives are not complete (and their search engine even less so) but as I was going backwards in time I ran across some articles that are quite interesting today. I suppose it's odd to think of something as recent as 6 years ago in an historical context, but in Internet years it must be centuries. So let's dive in:

It was the Summer of 1998

The now defunct Australian Erasure-esqe sugar pop band Savage Garden had the top rated rock (??!) song of the year: Truly, Madly, Deeply. Google had yet to reach it's historic stock prices and the bubble was still in full swing. I was fresh out of college and had just finished nine months as an intern at Xerox PARC. Fresh from the high of having been in a joint published research paper I was ready to tackle writing something on my own! Okay, in reality I just was a 22 year old code monkey for the real researchers, but it was a fun time and I got to soak up some PARC history. So here is what I wrote:

Remembering the Star.

After seeing an on screen demonstration of the last functioning Xerox Star computer I was struck both by how primitive it's hardware was (though rather advanced and expensive for the time) and by the things it got right that we still get wrong. I quickly wrote up this article based on my observations. I also started a short lived 'Simple Linux' initiative that died when I lost interest (as did most of my projects from that era).

In terms of writing I think I did fairly well, though I'm much better about not having run-on sentences today. I've also learned about these far out concepts like "the outline" and "listening to your editor" which have greatly improved my final drafts.

So what else was going on in The Summer of 1998?

Inevitable Microsoft Decline. While Windows may be collapsing on itself, Microsoft doesn't appear to be going anywhere. UI wise I think that Vista is going in the right direction. Heck, just renaming Outlook Express to Mail is worth an upgrade by itself. The XBox is certainly doing well, and now there's even a Palm Pilot that runs Windows CE. I'd say MS is fine.

The Myth of the Fall of SGI I don't really have much to add here. Ummm.... apparently it wasn't a myth.

Apple and Rhapsody x86. Ah, back in the days when we foolishly believed Apple was going to release Yellow Box, the code name for the NextStep API developer toolkit on Windows. Oh sure, it would have been crufty, slow, and not made any money for Apple at all; but it certainly sounded cool. I'm glad that I just bought a tangerine iBook three years later instead. :)

In other news

Well, that's it for now. In other news I've been working with Rich and Romain to build a truly killer demo that you'll get to see at JavaOne. I'm also working on some cool stuff with Painters that you'll see very soon.

Have a good week
  Josh

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