Tel PC.

Actually, the metaphor isn't that accurate. After all, it's not that one stage of development sits upon a previous stage, but instead that they all seem to reside together in what might be a sort of post-modernist version of an archeological find. My hard drive is filled with programs that I haven't used in ages, including many that not only won't work under my new operating system, but that quite probably didn't work under the previous operating system.

But it's not only a question of continuing to hold onto old programs and games that nobody has any interest in any more. There seems to be some sort of inevitable, or unavoidable, stage of development in our use of computers which this situation reflects. Back when the most common method of sharing files was sending disks back and forth via snail mail, the lusting after new applications that we probably weren't going to use but still wanted at least to try was an important aspect of the aura of computer use. Most of the promise of the PC was still primarily uncharted territory, and we were always on the lookout for new applications. Even though computer programs then were capable of doing much less than they are today, we seemed to be infused with a feeling of stretching the limits; there was real excitement in discovering what computers could do. Every new version of a favorite word processor offered an opportunity to update and see what new features were available. Admittedly, since we actually used very few of these feature, this was a blatant case of style over substance, but even though we probably knew better, we can probably be excused this excess because of the newness of PC use.

Go to: Tools I've known and loved ... and often abandoned.