Subject: Re: some observations on the peripheral market
To: dustin sallings <>
From: David A. Gatwood <>
List: current-users
Date: 01/10/1999 21:31:42
On Sun, 10 Jan 1999, dustin sallings wrote:

> 	Frankly, I'm getting really sick of backward compatibility.  I
> don't *want* floppies around anymore.  If you want portable media, get a
> zip drive or something on the machine.  There's a USB version of the zip
> drive available.  Things are bigger now, floppies don't make a lot of
> sense.  If floppies *are* that important, someone will make a USB floppy
> drive.

Admittedly, floppies aren't large capacities like zip's, but they are a
standard.  With very few exceptions, almost every machine built snce the
early 80's has a floppy drive of one sort or another.  That's universal
compatibility, not just backwards compatibility.

As for the argument of being able to buy a drive, that's fine as long as
you're using your own machine.  It doesn't work very well if you're a
college student at a uni where they won't let you attach external hardware
like zip drives....  And when you ask when they're getting Zips, they'll
tell you there's no money.  Speaking as the son of a university prof,
they're usually telling the truth (that there's no money).  And even if
you have your own machine... try taking your zip cartridge into a lab to
print or to your professor to hand in an assignment.  They want a floppy.
And since you won't get it back, it's a lot cheaper to lose a 20 cent
floppy than a zip costing 5-10 times as much.

I can't count the number of "latest and greatest" replacements for the
floppy that have come and gone.  Almost none of them are compatible with
the original classic media, so they don't provide the level of
cross-platform compatibility that's essential for a true replacement.  The
SuperDisk is an exception, and might just fit the bill, if it catches on.
Only time will tell.

Regardless, floppies have many, many uses apart from being just like the
other removable media.  When every machine built for twenty years contains
a zip drive, and when the cartridges cost $0.20 apiece (and come free from
AOL), then the zip will have effectively supplanted the floppy.  Right
now, it hasn't done so, any more than S-VHS supplanted VHS or PCI
powermacs supplanted NuBus ones (or even 68k macs... keep in mind the
cross-post here).

> 	Vendors already spend *way* too much effort trying to remain
> compatible with 5+ year old designs that just aren't necessary anymore.
> Buying a new computer should be exactly that.

5 years old is still practically new in the real world.  I can't count the
number of _030_ machines still in regular use on University campuses here,
not to mention 040 and early PowerMacs.  Keep in mind that five years ago
was about when they started building PowerMacs....

If you're going to set up a cut-off like that, you might as well dump half
my machines in a dumpster.  While you're at it, care to throw away your
car every 5 years?  Most people would go broke.  The goal of any company
should always be to support as many customers as possible for as long as
possible.  Not only does it make the customer happy, it also keeps from
filling up storage buildings with old gear (or landfills, depending).

> //      Although ethernet is definitely the way to go, there are still
> // a lot of old Macs out there running on localtalk that people would
> // like to have access to their new machines.  Not to mention all the
> // localtalk only printers.
> 	Aren't there localtalk to ethertalk bridges?  That seems like
> enough compatibility to me.

It's still not as easy as a serial port.  Try debugging an OS over
ethernet console and see what I mean.  And localtalk bridges are fine as
long as you're willing to drop a couple hundred bucks to buy a stand-alone
bridge or take a computer out of service to do the job.  That's a lot more
than the cost of a single SCC chip on the motherboard....

My apologies if I sound annoyed, but it really bothers me when people say
that I should have to dump everything I have and buy new stuff just
because it's the "latest thing".  I have my PB G3/250, but I'm typing this
on a 7100/80.  The best tool for a job isn't always the latest, and the
best and most universally accepted means of carrying files is still the
floppy disk -- probably by a million to one in terms of the total disk
count.  Maybe more than that.  The floppy disk is far from dead.  The fact
that it fails to meet the needs of some doesn't mean that it's not
absolutely necessary for many others.  That's clearly evidenced by the
fact that USB floppies were announced within a couple of weeks of the iMac
announcement.  :-)


David A. Gatwood                         Visit globegate's internet                  talker, Deep Space 36                telnet

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