@ Nancy Golden, I understand and share your sentiments regarding gaming consoles. You have a solid reason for thinking so. Even when one feels nostalgic, one wishes that certain technologies had never come. Excess of everything is bad and so is the use of gaming. It has this dangerous capability of consuming precious time and skills of children as well as elderly.
@ Ann R. Thryft, I agree that Commodore 64 might not have more sales than many of other models to date. It might be just that it was the only one available at that time and the new technology, so it got the much bigger fanfare than we could ever have again. As people got more aware of the computers, it started getting less noticeable owing one.
Interesting points about what constitutes a "PC," Dave Haynie. You make a good argument that iPads and other tables are more PC than merely smart device, which I guess adds another point to what a great innovation they are.
Thank you for clarifying that point about jet engines, William K. I think probably the combination of technologies eventually led to the development of rocket engines, so I still believe jet propulsion had a role to play there.
D.H. I had not even considered the damage to the quality of music that so many play constantly into their earphones. But you are certainly correct. And that is almost funny, given the incredibly low total distortion levels available from some audio equipment today. So the good gets better while the "fair" gets much worse. But those are probably the folks who don't notice the 10% harmonic distortion at max output on a whole lot of cheap-quality audio junk.
And quite possibly the worst change associated with that audio development is the creation of thousands of isolated "zombies" all off in thier own world and totally separated from everything and everybody else. I see them running on our raods almost every day, unable to hear approaching cars and motorcycles. That is completely a change for the worse.
And a comment about jet engines and spacecraft. It was probably the development of the turbine pumps that enabled the rockets, since it was, and probably still is, simply not possible to deliver enough fuel and oxidizer into the combustion area of a rocket engine by any other means. But some of those first turbines were driven by steam, produced by the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Not the 3% solution, but the pure stuff. Later on came hydrazine, which contains more energy per weight, but is really quite nasty to work with.
Kodak certainly did invent the electronic and then digital camera. They also did sell them, at least for awhile. The DSC series were the first professional digital cameras on the market, using Nikon and, at least once, Canon bodies fitted with Kodak sensors and electronics. I think the first one was done in conjunction with the Associated Press, and even though it cost over $20,000, working AP photographers looked on that as a bargain, versus the cost of film and processing... and, of course, the ability to send in photos via modem.
Kodak did kind of lose their way once the camera companies took that business in-house. The old saying about understanding what business you're actually in kind of applies (eg, film or imaging)... only, at least some factions at Kodak really did understand that their business was imaging. They were one of the first companies to make sensors that actually delivered enough quality to replace film. And they did enter the consumer market: Kodak was the #1 digital camera brand among consumers by 2005. They got into printers, too, but far too late. And they just never figured out how to make money at this. They also got clobbered by the smartphone becoming the Instamatic of the 21rst century, Kodak targeting only the mass-market, low-end digital cameras.
Some of it, too, is just plain bad luck. As much as Kodak was transitioning to digital imaginging, they were still just too dependent on film. They got into a losing price war against Fujifilm, which sucked off a great deal of the cash they needed for new technology (curiously, Fujifilm is doing quite well these days, having transitioned their technology to higher-end digital cameras, LCD screens, and even cosmetics). Kodak was a culture of moving slowly, which didn't help. Even though they got into other markets, it was an uphill climb.
And kind of out of nowhere, the SAG strike in 2008(?) had a totally unintended consequence: it pushed the whole US television industry from film to digital in under a year. See, there was this loophole: SAG represented actors on film, AFTRA represented actors shot on digital. So during the SAG strike, actors could still work if shot on digital... so the TV studios went digital, and didn't look back. And of course, Hollywood, Inc. has been forcing theaters to go digital. A major film release can run $35,000+ per print; digital distribution is cheap and essentially unlimited. So studios have even been helping to pay for the transisition to digital projectors. No wonder Fujifilm stopped making cinema film in 2012.
I don't think the Commodore 64 has any more in common with the IBM PC, and what "PC" came to mean, than the iPad.
Prior to the PC(tm), folks sometimes applied the term "pc" to a personal computer, sometimes not. The point of saying "personal computer", at the time, in the early 80s, was to differentiate from a hobby computer. A personal computer, like my buddy Scott's PET 2001 in 1977, was an all-in-one that you bought.
And in the pre-IBM days, there were, of course, all different sorts of personal computers: Commodore's, Ataris, the Apple ][, Cromemco, Kaypro, Osborne, the MSX standard, etc. "Personal computer" didn't mean just one CPU type, or just one operating system, or really anything that specific.
The iPad, Android tablets, these are all very capable at personal computing. My tablet today (Galaxy Note Pro 12.2) is considerably faster, with way more RAM and storage, than my desktop PC of ten years ago... not all that long. So no, these devices are PC(tm), but they are very much personal computers. That's something Microsoft came to grok, albeit some years too late.
Good point on "damage". One thing not generally mentioned is that the transition from CD to MP3/AAC download was perhaps the largest self-imposed downgrade in music quality that consumers embraced. The combination of psychoacoustic compression (and originally, way too much of it), audio concerns given low priority over cost and battery life (unless you had a higher-end MP3 player from Cowon), and cheesy earbuds made us all audio-gourmands. Sure, it also opened the door to services like HDTracks, in time. But it's still primarily a big step backwards in quality.
The same could originally be said about digital photography, but that's since matured to match and then exceed film in most applications. That evolution also completely changed the way photography is done. The fact that the next photo is free, and that in practical terms, I'll never run out of shots (that's a 128GB SD card in my EOS 6D) makes digital a revolution. Naturally, the same can be said about digital editing, but it was always possible to apply that to film... back in the Photoshop 3/4 days, I was only editing from my fillm scanner.
They had a hard drive MP3 player before the iPhone, they had a portable media player before the iPod-with-video, they had larger format tablets before the iPad, and they're still around. However, being (originally) a small French company rather than Apple, their stuff was never as culturally "sticky" as Apple's. And honestly, not as slick... early Archos devices were always a little rough around the edges. Of course, when you're first, you have to set the example that will be bested by others.
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
To get to a trillion sensors in the IoT that we all look forward to, there are many challenges to commercialization that still remain, including interoperability, the lack of standards, and the issue of security, to name a few.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
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