Today in Tedium: It’s a make-it-or-break-it situation when a software company decides to scrap an operating system several years in the making. Apple. Failing to ship Copland, averted the crisis by relying on a third-party groundwork—that one led to the creation of macOS. For other companies, like Palm and its spin-offs, projects like Cobalt are left as eternal reminders of their former ambitions. The case of Microsoft and their Photon project is peculiar in this regard. When the company announced a brand-new Windows Phone 7, no one shed a tear over the “true” successor to Windows Mobile 6. Nowadays, though, both platforms are just as irrelevant. But while the former gained a cult following, it’s time to ask: was there truly nothing left of Photon?
We may not discuss our connectivity speed in baud anymore—not when we can measure data by the gigabits per second—but these points of evolution have clearly had an impact on what we, as modern computer users, actually got to use at the end of the day.
A trackpad is, of course, infinitely more functional than a straight key, but if you squint hard enough, maybe you’ll see the resemblance.
Why are ice cubes seemingly as American as unnecessary medical debt? Perhaps it’s all the hard work we used to put into acquiring all that ice back in the day.
How IBM bet big on the microkernel being the next big thing in operating systems back in the ’90s—and spent billions with little to show for it.
From the arcades to the living room, how the controller has evolved—and why one tech historian, Benj Edwards, started building his own.
How the suggestion box, once a simple tool for giving feedback, played a role in the weirder and darker data-hungry present for many companies.
The MSX computer standard was big in both Japan and Brazil. But despite a sizable cult, it may be the most obscure part of Microsoft’s history. Here’s why.
It might seem strange, given what we know about MSX, to compare this system to Windows Phone, which was an American product through and through (albeit with the help of a failed Finnish acquisition).
To an outside observer, it might seem like the better comparison point for the MSX platform might be the Xbox, which like the MSX, is best known for its games.
But if you look a bit more closely at the structure of the platform, it becomes clear that MSX and Windows Phone actually share much more in common than at first glance. Each was an also-ran in its given market—MSX, while successful in Japan, was a relatively small player even there, with machines from NEC, Fujitsu, and Sharp proving more successful, even though these competitors were often proprietary. MSX was ultimately an early version of what Microsoft would later do on its more tightly controlled platforms, Windows Phone in particular.
Today in Tedium: If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years as a writer, it’s that when someone doesn’t like something enough to email about it, they start their message out with “I read with great interest …” before diving into their gripe. With that in mind, I read with great interest Tumblr’s announcement about censoring adult content on its platform, which saddened me as a longtime Tumblr user—not because I was looking for that content, but because a creative outlet I once greatly appreciated was losing much of its freedom. The filter is terrible, of course, and its terribleness reminded me of the bad old days of early web filtering, when the internet was new and its capabilities poorly understood. And as the conversation about the European Union’s Article 11 and Article 13—the latter of which would effectively require pervasive filters for copyright on many platforms—now’s a good time to look into that history. I love you, Tumblr, but today’s Tedium is talking filters. — Ernie @ Tedium
To put it in modern terms: Walt Disney was a startup guy, and he followed the Elon Musk zero-sleep model of productivity. He was a busy innovator, willing to experiment on a wide number of business endeavors before he found his true calling as the co-creator of Mickey Mouse.
These animals have been feeding humans for ages. Are we learning new ways to produce and eat them, or are we just getting better at marketing? Or is it both?