It’s exceedingly rare for New Media to write in any depth about the history of computing — especially a Vice property — so coming across this excellent retelling of the compelling history of The Print Shop was an especially pleasant surprise.
Much of the software we use today borrows look-and-feel elements from other pieces of software—and that could have led to some uncomfortable legal decisions that hurt the broader software industry, particularly with open-source software clones.
I’ve spent the past month or so entirely fascinated by the history of software in exploring WinWorldPC by way of virtual machining. I haven’t written about it yet because, frankly, I have not even begun to be able to focus on a single story — I’ve simply been gobbling up an intoxicating, seemingly-endless sea of .iso and .ima files. That said, you can expect lots of screen caps and misty-eyed software monologues very soon. For the moment, I’d like to give in to the number one angst one accrues touring a graveyard of quaint, genuinely-unique ideas and shit a bit on Microsoft’s co-founder and CEO.
I can’t quite think of another individual from the history of computing (or any other intellectual property industry for that matter) who’s reached Bill Gates’ level of anti-competitive mania. From this specific era in the early 90s, Windows 3.1′s final generation of word processors all included addon conversion software to help users make ‘the switch’ from the other — perhaps constituting the pettiest nerd Beef ever thrown.
It’s hard to imagine competition for office software at all in 2018, yet Microsoft Office continues to be a “huge old bitch.” I know it seems like there could hardly be anything pettier, but take a moment to reflect on its role in the past twenty years of your life: what if Microsoft had never
broken competition laws for two straight decades existed in its current form? What if there were still no fewer than 5 software companies per any technology product category, pushing the boundaries of innovation in order to stay ahead? I’ve just tried Ami Pro for the first time, and it’s already made apparent that Lotus’ engineers were thinking more about UX in the development of this single version than all of Microsoft’s cumulative thinking since its goddamned inception.
A reminder: we don’t have to settle for shitty products just because they’re the standard.
(Also, my Compaq Portable Plus is scheduled to arrive on Friday and I am experiencing actual giddiness for the first time in years. Many photos incoming.)