Oh, Brother

Posted by CJD on November 22, 2012

A couple of things coincided this week that made me reminisce a bit.

The first was that the last typewriter to be made in the UK was built and then donated to the London Science Museum.

The second was that the city council of Freiburg, Germany has decided to abandon their free Open Office software, which they’ve been using for a few years, in favour of the not free Microsoft Office. Their reason is that OpenOffice is not totally compatible with Microsoft Office – which is a tad tragic and more than a little circular when you think about it.

This decision is going to cost them about €600,000 so I hope they got it right.
Personally, I have a little sympathy for them having tried to like OpenOffice for over a year but really couldn’t. I love the idea of it and I genuinely wanted it to work, but it just isn’t as good as Microsoft’s effort. It just feels like it’s a few years behind.

I really can’t remember the first word processor I used but I can remember the first spreadsheet  – it was VisiCalc and without it, my guess is that Apple wouldn’t now exist. (VisiCalc wasn’t an Apple product but Wozniac/Jobs were smart enough to port it to their Apple II computer which was a purely hobby machine at the time. (This was a few years before the IBM PC, by the way.) It turned the Apple II from a geek only machine into a business machine.

Not that I ever used VisiCalc on an Apple – I was using it on a CPM machine with an 8” floppy drive. Anyhoo, it’s arguable that without the spreadsheet and the word processor, the PC revolution in its entirety wouldn’t have happened.

ps Whilst desperately trying to drag back from the past what stuff  I used and when, I came across this fact  “In 1971 a third of all working women in the USA were secretaries.”

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