Who Needs to Know Stuff?

October 7, 2011

The opening of Kevin Drum’s piece on Mac vs. PC is priceless because it adds one more data point in the ledger of how little our young commentariat knows and how unimportant that deficiency is to their writings and careers. I’ll give you the lede here, but it’s worth clicking through to read the rest of the piece:

In my post this morning about why Apple lost the personal computing battle, I noted that a big part of the reason was the much lower cost of PCs vs. Macs. Matt Yglesias tweets back:

Actually, they did in a way. The original version of Windows was designed to work with the first CGA color adapter, and in order to keep costs down that adapter only supported 16 colors. Later adapters supported more colors, but Windows retained a considerable amount of backward compatibility with old hardware for a very long time. Thus, even as late as the early-90s, versions of Windows were still using logos that rendered properly on ancient hardware.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Fake Herzog October 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

As someone who basically loathes Yglesias and everything he represents, this post made my weekend.

I don’t particularly like Kevin Drum either, but at least he has a clue…


DB October 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Yglesias is also the one who thinks every city needs more bars and all-nite coffeehouses, right

Does he still have the goatee?


epobirs October 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Talk about a history deficit! What about the ugly color combos on the first Macs? Oh wait, color wasn’t an option until the Mac II. (Obscure trivia: there was always low level support for a 16-color display in the early Macs but it was never implemented in any official Apple product for a variety of reasons including cost and quality issues in the color CRTs then available. By the time of the Mac II it had been replaced by a system with support for much better pixel depth.)

By the time Windows caught on big with 3.x the typical system shipped with VGA but it was always necessary to be able to fall back to the lowest common denominator hardware.


Leland October 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

Wow. I grew up during the era of the first home PCs. We started with Apple II’s and a Timex Sinclair. We did purchase a Mac SE, but didn’t touch Apple again until 2 decades later. The reason was simply the cost. Drum is right about the graphics, which is on point to Yglesia’s comment. Microsoft also supported IDE, which was adequate and far cheaper than Apple’s demand for SCSI at the time. Then there was Microsoft’s willingness to allow their software to run on almost any computer platform, which allowed companies like Intel and AMD to enter the PC market. Apple, even today, is very strict on who builds their hardware and on what systems their OS will run. That’s why the price of Apple products still outpace competitors with equivalent performance.


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