[Log In] []

Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Hobbyist Computing and Personal Clouds

Cloud Computing, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Thursday, May 2, 2013
7:50 am


One of the benefits of growing old is the historical perspective offered by advancing age. I have been privileged to be an active participant as the computer industry has literally unfolded before my eyes.  

The first computer I saw demonstrated, back in 1970, was built by a hobbyist, using flip flops constructed out of discrete transistors and a numeric  Nixie tube display. The input device?  A rotary phone dial.  As an electronics hobbyist myself, I was fascinated by the blinking lights, even though the contraption really wasn’t very useful as an end user device.

Fast forward a few years … As part of my first engineering job, I built my first personal computer in 1978, predating the IBM PC by three years.  It was based on the Texas Instruments 9900 microprocessor, one of the first 16-bit microprocessors. I designed and built the color graphics display board and modified a Sony Trinitron TV to be the color monitor. I had to design and debug the circuitry, work with others to design the chassis and circuit boards and solder in all the chips.  I used an original Soroc terminal and Epson TX-80 dot matrix printer.  The computer had a rudimentary operating system and simple text editor.  I thought I was in heaven!  For a geek like me, I had both the joy of experimentation and emerging productivity for my work.

My next big step forward was getting one of the original Compaq luggable PCs – complete with two 256k 5-1/4 inch floppy drives (no hard drive). It was a great step forward in packaging, but the real benefit was the software - WordPerfect word processor and Lotus123 spreadsheet.  My productivity really accelerated.  And I didn’t have to build anything. (By the way, I still have that computer!)

Of course, the MacBook Air I use now is almost infinitely more capable than the those old relics.  We have come a long way.

What does this have to do with Personal Clouds? I somehow get the feeling we are still in the hobbyist phase.  A lot of blinking lights and personal tinkering and vision of the future, but not a lot of real utility and tangible benefits.

Don’t get me wrong – I really like the concept of personal clouds.  I like the promise of  better privacy, better personal control over my information, easier to use Identity and payments infrastructure and unifying functionality in a virtual container in the cloud. I salute those who are working to transform vision into reality.

But at this time in my life, I tend to be impatient. I want my MacBook Air when all that is available is Nixie tubes and rotary phone dials.   I’d like to see the next Apple emerge or some stodgy old IBM-like company leverage their market presence and offer Personal Cloud infrastructure that is really easy to use and really useful to old fogies like me.

Who will it be?


Comments Off on Hobbyist Computing and Personal Clouds . Permalink . Trackback URL
WordPress Tags:

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2005-2016, Mark G. Dixon. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress.