Why is Computer Design stuck in the 1950s?



Compared to my first computer, an Apple Macintosh 128K, the modern device has an awesome amount of computing power. I have just bought a Hewlett Packard ‘All-in-One’  PC with wireless keyboard and mouse, 24″ screen, 8GB of RAM and 1 terabyte of storage. An inconceivable specification only a few years ago, and a very elegant design, but completely unusable straight out of the box. I cannot think of any other advanced and expensive consumer product which, as a matter of course, doesn’t work when you first use it. Imagine buying a new car which refuses to go over 20mph, the manufacturer and supplier could not care less, and you have to spend hours under the bonnet to get it to operate properly!

Yet this is what we have come to expect from modern computers. The primary cause of the HP’s inability to do anything came down to constant updating from the in-built Windows 10 and McAfee LiveSafe software which slowed the machine down to an unacceptable degree. Having disabled the automatic updating from Microsoft and uninstalled the McAfee I now have an excellent computer, but why do I and everyone else (just look at the forums) have to work out what the problem is and do something about it having spent hundreds of pounds? Microsoft now notifies me regularly that an ‘important update’ needs to be installed – this just shows that the software is very badly designed in the first place.

The computer industry is stuck in the automotive equivalent of the 1950s when tinkering about with your car was the norm, and a knowledge of mechanics was useful. Modern vehicles are outstanding in their reliability, engineering, ergonomics, and simplicity of operation, and it is a pity that software engineers, or ‘architects’ as they are laughably called, cannot design their products to the same standards as we approach the 2020s.

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