COMDEX 1999

(ou «Chronique du futur», texte écrit en 1988)

NOTE: Seulement les maniaques de l’informatique de longue date pourront apprécier l’humour mais surtout le caractère prophétique de ce texte paru en 1988. C’était l’époque du DOS, lorsque Windows n’existait pas vraiment, le programme Wordperfect 4.2 tenait sur deux disquettes 360k, le premier microprocesseur 32-bits 386 venait de sortir, les ordinateurs plafonnaient à 12Mhz, les disques durs dépassaient rarement 40 Mo, et une mémoire vive de 2 Mo (expanded memory) était encore un luxe…

– Laurent –

Version annotée : Le même texte, avec mes commentaires.


Paul SOMERSON

PC/Computing, September 23, 1988

Editor’s Note: We discovered this story on our electronic mail system and are publishing it exactly as received, even though it is mysteriously dated II years in the future.

Las Vegas, Nov. 20 – The fall 1999 Comdex was, as always, a bit disappointing. The star of the show was clearly the Yamagazi RoomTemp CryoModem I’m using to transmit this story. Yamagazi claims it blitzes out data faster than the speed of light, which means this report might have made it back to the office before the show even took place.

This year, the computer industry’s companion show—Legaldex—nearly outdrew the hardware and software exhibits. With so many pending lawsuits and so much money at stake, it’s really no surprise that Legaldex sprawled into 11 hotel ballrooms, two parking lots, and a hallway at the Liberace museum. The Apple booths alone commanded more than 30,000 square feet of space.

In what has turned into an annual tradition, IBM once again trotted out a new graphics standard, the 3DGA. Compatible with the MGA, MCGA, HGA, EGA, VGA, EVGA, QGA, VVGA, VHGA, VQGA, VMGA, VAGA, EAGA, GAGA, and, of course, CGA boards, this new standard heralds a “bold new era of channel profitability,” according to IBM president and owner Sheik Akmar Mumani: “Now at last serious business users can have their fancy 3-D graphs float in space.” Big Blue also displayed yet another new keyboard. The 143-key model sports 6 randomly scattered Ctrl keys, three more function keys, and an entire pad of SysRq keys (though IBM did not announce why anyone needs even one). To counter IBM’s new Blubus architecture, AST/Quadram/ Hyundai announced Blubus-Plus, with an additional data line and slightly more shielding. Blubus throws off so much RF interference that airborne laptop users are able to make their planes bank left and right by leaning on the cursor arrow keys.

The fastest-selling product at the show was IBM’s just-released TBR (Technical Bug Reference) manual, a fat compendium of IBM BIOS- and chip-level errors that the industry has had to adopt as standards.

In response to the new IBM line of 240MHz machines, Compaq/Dell announced a 242MHz screamer, which it claims “makes the IBM box look like it’s playing dead.” At the other end of the spectrum, we counted 35 manufacturers still selling replacement motherboards for the original PC-1, switchable between 4.77MHz and 180MHz.

Sponsors of next year’s millennial Comdex are planning to call Comdex 2000 “Finally, the Year of the LAN.” Other vendors are proposing that Comdex 2000 be dubbed “The Year of the Home Application,” in an effort to prod the industry into developing at least one product that could justify buying a computer for use at home.

Ever-youthful Bill Gates’s keynote address, “OS/9: The One You’ve Really, Really Been Waiting For,” blunted criticism that this newest version was still too hard to use, too slow, and too memory-hungry: “Even though no third-party vendors have taken advantage of the advanced capabilities of the seven previous editions, dozens of developers are porting their applications over. And it will run just fine on any system with 30 megabytes of RAM, although you may need a bit more for your data.”

In the word processing arena, MicroPro, Microsoft, and WordPerfect have packed even more features into their bloated programs. MicroPro has purchased so many third-party utilities that WordStar Professional Classic 7.3 is now delivered on 73 disks. WordPerfect has streamlined its 16-volume manual.

Finally, Lotus announced its 1-2-3 WZ 50-dimension spreadsheet, a “quantum leap” above its previous 1-2-3 VZ 45-dimension version. Although users have been demanding this added power, say market analysts, they’re still not exactly sure what to do with more than three dimensions. When pressed for a delivery date, Lotus officials would only say “sometime in the first quarter of the coming millennium.” We can hardly wait.

Copyright (c) PC/Computing 1988.


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