12 - Legacy Hardware? #

There’s some old hardware almost everyone is familiar with: Floppy disks and big ol’ CRT monitors became a big part of what defined a computer, and became recognizable enough that the shape of a floppy disk is still the standard save icon today. But still, why care?

In history classes, the line “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it." but I think there’s a bigger reason here: those who don’t understand the legacy hardware have no idea what the fuck is going on.

The Curse of Backwards Compatibility: #

The biggest reason knowing how legacy hardware works is important is because it has left us with bugs that will never be fixed, ways of working that will never be updated, and reliance on systems that are built on an endless cascade of abstractions. To be the best you can be at using a modern system, you must also know how and why those systems got to the point they did. Seeing how steps that were logical to take at the time but with hindsight seem crazy have gotten us to our current landscape of computation will help you be better at working with what we have now.

[TODO: look at USB, Floppy→HDD→SSD, 32→64bit, etc.]

History #

Computing as a field has some interesting history dating back to the 1800’s. I really recommend reading A Brief History of Computers (lesswrong.com) if this interests you.

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