Odd-numbered Bits

The Leap-launch of the 64-bit Raspberry Pi 3 yesterday set me thinking: if I’d been born 4 years later, my life it bits could have been very different. I might have been in at the start of the PC revolution and progressed  through the 8, 16, 32 and 64 bit Intel architectures with everyone else. I’d be one of those people who considers Windows PCs to be Real Computers. I find that concept hard to grasp.

I actually used 24 and 36 bit computers at university and started work on a 32-bit, virtual memory machine. We got free software from other people like us, via the DECUS library.  I’ve never had to worry about allocation of physical memory, like some kind of primitive savage. Since the mid-80s, I’ve been waiting for the world to realise that they took a wrong turn and I finally think it might be happening.

Free software happened. Real Operating Systems became available for ‘desktop computers’ (so we could shove them under the desk and stop worrying about regular access to the reboot button.) We got always-on Internet access and now we’re starting to think about parallel processing and functional programming again, like we were in the 80s. If I had the chance to choose a time to start computing, it would be now, at the age of 6.

We were worrying about nuclear annihilation, over-population and running out of fossil fuels then too. Maybe we’ll remember those soon too, now our houses are full of stuff.

“What did the capitalist dream ever do for you Grandad?”

“It wasted my precious time, Best Beloved.”
(sweet because stolen from that nice Mr. Kipling)

….and maybe Mr. Dylan:

“I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.”
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