Friday, October 30, 2009

The art of being wrong

As a piece of punditry, John C Dvorak's 1984 review of the original Apple Macintosh might well epitomise the art of tech review FAIL. [Emphasis mine.]
San Francisco Examiner, John C. Dvorak, 19 Feb. 1984

The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation—as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don't want one of these new fangled devices.

Amazingly, Dvorak is still writing tech columns today; unbelievably, people still listen to what he has to say...

(A tip of the horns to Daring Fireball.)

11 comments:

cornyborny said...

lol! Good work, that man. Such vision!

Doesn't look like he's raised his game much in the interim, judging by the comments on his current articles.

Anonymous said...

In the the world of DOS (circa 1984), who would need a mouse?

Uwinsom Ulosum said...

Until mouses (or is it 'mice' in PC world?) are what you use to type, this dick will be spouting his techie jizz all over the place!

I'm suprised Labour haven't snapped him up as an unelected 'Technology Csar' to help extend their demon future visions to include reversing ergonomics...

Uwinsom Ulosum said...

BTW nice spot DK, I love mynew iMac the only thing I do regret is not waiting 6 months longer for the new ones which have recently come out...

Blue Eyes said...

In fairness, lots of people who were experienced users of extant systems didn't see the need. What they didn't realise is how accessible mice and GUIs would enable computers to become.

How ironic, then, that the main aim of systems like Windows is to be as similar to the Mac as possible.

Overheard on the tube last night: "Windows 7 is so lame - it's trying to be like the Mac but doesn't quite get there". Plus ca change!

Anonymous said...

"How ironic, then, that the main aim of systems like Windows is to be as similar to the Mac as possible."

This canard has been repeated so many times it has now become a "fact".

"The Journey is the Reward", tells of how Jobs was inspired by the Star project at Xerox Park.

From Wiki....

"Members of the Apple Lisa engineering team saw Star at its introduction at the National Computer Conference (NCC '81) and returned to Cupertino where they converted their desktop manager to an icon-based interface modeled on the Star.[8] Among the developers of the Gypsy editor, Larry Tesler left Xerox to join Apple in 1980 and Charles Simonyi left to join Microsoft in 1981 (whereupon Bill Gates spent $100,000 on a Xerox Star and laser printer),[9] and several other defectors from PARC followed Simonyi to Microsoft in 1983.[10]".

In other words both companies nicked the idea.

Anonymous said...

hey DORK...you were what, 3 years old in 1984? You have no idea how lousy the mouse was in those days. It was cumbersome, didn't work for shit, and the apps for it were lagging. Plus, most of the software community, at the time, did NOT want to support it.
So, yeah, take a column out of historic context. You're an ignorant bozo!
Meanwhile, go see what was going on back on October 1, 1929. There were articles on how great things were. And, oh, you should remember this....What did YOU say about the dot come bubble back in February 2000? (March 10, 2000 is the assigned date that the bubble burst). I'll BET you thought whatever stock options you had were just going to keep on rising....
It's easy to poke fun at the past. But, honestly, this is weak, man, really WEAK. Just makes you look like a well worn, well filled Pampers (size Newborn!)

Blue Eyes said...

I did not claim that Apple invented window-based operating systems. I have used Macs and Windows PCs for many years now and it strikes me that Windows becomes more like the Mac with each edition, whereas the usability of Macs doesn't change much.

I was four in 1984, and when I was quite a bit older I discovered an original Mac still in use at my mother's office. Brilliant piece of kit if a little limited in storage capacity.

Simon Jester said...

anon@05:04 PM,

I was 16 in 1984. The typical mouse then was roughly the same size it is now. Sensitivity was lower (but then screen resolutions were lower), but it was about as reliable then as mechanical mice are now (ie. OK, as long as you scrape out the grime from time to time.)

Obviously apps for it were lagging in 1984, but the software community (those who weren't welded to DOS) were quite enthusiastic about producing software for it - witness the volume of software produced within the next few years for the MAC, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and even the PC (if you're old enough to remember GEM.)

When pontificating about history, it helps to be aware of it...

Elby the Beserk said...

The boss of IBM, way back, said he could see no reason why anyone would need or want a personal computer...

David Gillies said...

I was 15 when I first saw a Mac. Bearing in mind that the bulk of computers I had been exposed to up to that point were either BBC Micro/C64 toys or wardrobe-sized PDP-11 mini-mainframes, it was pretty obvious that this was where things were headed. The mouse as a pointing device just seemed so intuitive that I couldn't understand why this was the first time I'd used one (we had trackballs back in those days, so turning one upside-down was hardly too much of a stretch.) And writing software for it was a blast (it's even easier today).

The mystery of Dvorak's continuing employment is not that he gets a few things completely wrong, as here, but that he has been consistently wrong about almost everything for as long as anyone can remember. I recall reading him in PC Magazine in the 80's and thinking, "what the hell is this guy on about?" If he were a racing tipster, mobs of irate punters would have hung him up by his heels by now.