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Computer De-Evolution: Awesome Features We've Lost 662

jfruhlinger writes "If you listened to tech marketing departments, you'd believe that advances in computers have been a nonstop march upwards. But is that really true? What about all the great features early hackers had in the '70s and '80s that are now hard to find or lost forever, like clicky keyboards and customizable screen height? This article looks at much beloved features that lost the evolutionary war."
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Computer De-Evolution: Awesome Features We've Lost

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  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @12:20PM (#36251980)

    Not only are they still working fine, typing this on a Model M, but Unicomp still makes them. You can buy a brand new one if you want right now.

  • What I miss most... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Thursday May 26, 2011 @12:27PM (#36252086) Homepage

    Readable websites that don't have inline ads in them, unlike the article linked.

  • by max99ted ( 192208 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @12:30PM (#36252156)
    Print version - man's best friend: []
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Thursday May 26, 2011 @12:30PM (#36252160) Homepage Journal
    Web sites without advertisements in the middle of the body text still exist, such as,, and even once you've maxed your karma for a while.
  • by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @12:35PM (#36252234)

    "I really miss the 'clicky' IBM Model M keyboards from the mid and late '80"

    You can still get these

    "which could kill an accidentally triggered program, along with the Unix Control-C and kill -9 for command line Unix. I'm not sure if anything exists that can do that as quickly at the GUI level. "

    Right-click & "force quit" using OSX' dock, or CMD-q

    "XEDIT had the ability to restrict the file to a part, and have all editing commands, such as 'go to top/search and replace/select to bottom,' only work on that part of the file."

    Use Jedit.

    "This let me write macros that were globally available."

    Services in OSX.

    "Almost 30 years ago, there was a "see" program for the IBM PC -- I don't recall whether it was a .com or .exe file -- that allowed users to view, search and subsequently edit the bytes comprising executable images."

    It's called a hex editor, there thousands of 'em.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @01:04PM (#36252682) Journal

    Not currently able to view more than just the first page

    Yes, let's add a couple to the list:

    - Articles on the web that are entirely within one page
    - Websites that reflow to fit your window/font size, instead of forcing you to adopt theirs.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @01:06PM (#36252714) Homepage Journal

    Turbo Pascal was actually a very good programing system. It had a huge libary of tools and and a big comunity. The early version where also dirt cheap. At a time when a Basic compiler cost $500 you could buy TuboPascal for well under $100.
    This was before GCC and the internet.
    Thing is that if you miss TurboPascal just get FreePascal.
    The C64 was just plain fun. It was also a great place for an "educated" amateur to shine. The local BBS was getting slow when people where logging on. It also was going to run out of space for new users. I suggested to the hacker group that ran it to move to relative files and a hash table in place of the seq file they where using. I got a lot of credit for being brillant when I showed them how to do a simple hash.

  • Re:Not-a-concept (Score:3, Informative)

    by torgis ( 840592 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @01:20PM (#36252948) Journal

    I beg to differ.

    Origin: 1535–45; ( Middle French ) Medieval Latin devolution - (stem of devolutio) a rolling down, equivalent to Latin devolut( us ) rolled down (past participle of devolvere; see devolve) + -ion-

    Not only is it a word meaning "to roll down" or "roll back" dating back almost 500 years, it can also mean to de-evolve. This is not a word has been made up recently as an opposite to evolution in the Darwinian sense.

    Sources here [] and here [].

  • No kidding (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @01:43PM (#36253332)

    As you say, you can get clickey keyboards. Das Keyboard is an example. Most people just don't want them. Light press keyboards are not only quieter, but they are more ergonomic.

    Along those lines, you want a keyboard with programmability or function keys on the left? Logitech. Most of their G series keyboards have that and range from $100-200 and are extremely high quality.

    The scroll bar crap? Sounds like the "In my day shit was hard and we LIKED IT!" If they were "very complex scrollbars that took a while to master" they were not good because it shouldn't take a fucking post graduate education to use a computer. Also I can't see anything he's describing that matters for it in the slightest. Scrolling text is real easy on today's computers, particularly with scroll wheels.

    And paging through? Spacebar dipshit. Firefox, Acrobat, will page when you press it. Also there are these little keys called "page up" and "page down". Wonder what THEY do?

    The flat memory model is perhaps the stupidest of all. "Oh I miss when computers just let me write to whatever memory I wanted!" I don't, because they were easy as hell to bring down. If you are a programmer and you don't appreciate the reason and function of a protected memory model, I really don't want you writing software for me. Flat memory was a major problem, it was done because it is simple to implement, not because it is a good way of doing things.

    The see thing is also hilarious. As you note, it is called a hex editor. More hilarious is that most text editors more powerful than notepad have one built in. If you open a binary file they just automatically go to hex mode. Even more hilarious is that there's better tools now for that kind of thing. Because of the greater structure to executables in modern OSes, you can get tools that can better view and edit the resources separate from the code.

    Like you said, just old people whining. "Things are different than they used to be!" Yes, yes they are. Deal with it.

  • Re:Turbo power (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday May 26, 2011 @02:51PM (#36254220) Homepage Journal

    Bring back the Turbo button!

    It wins the prize for the most misnamed button ever. It's purpose was never to make your computer "go faster"; the "turbo" speed was your computers native speed. It's sole purpose was to make the computer go slower, to be more compatible with software that used timing loops that assumed a fixed instruction processing rate.

    Unfortunately, it wasn't good marketing to advertise a feature that made your computer function even slower than it already was, so instead someone came up with flipping its purpose, and making it sound like you were getting more performance with the flick of a switch.


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