Wandering Thoughts archives


Why the modern age is great

In some quarters, it is popular to grumble about how much better things were back in the good old days of computers, Unix, or whatever. I don't hold with this view at all; I think that the modern age is great, and now I'll tell you one reason why.

I started working with Unix systems what is now quite a long time ago. Back in those days, you couldn't get SCCS without paying extra money to AT&T (and sometimes you couldn't get it at all, because your Unix vendor hadn't paid extra for it themselves), and you couldn't get RCS without a Unix source license, because RCS needed a customized version of diff (and there was no 'GNU diff'). Thus, if you had a source license, you generally used RCS and counted yourself lucky.

(Certainly universities pretty much didn't have the budget to buy extras from AT&T. Source control? That was a luxury, we weren't commercial developers, we hardly needed that. (AT&T's mad unbundling of the useful pieces of Unix is another rant entirely.))

Contrast that to today, where I find myself vaguely agonizing over which highly sophisticated distributed version control system to use. This shows both how far we've come and how plain nice our computing environments have become; when the big issue is just how awesome my version control system is going to be, we're doing pretty well.

(System administration has been going through this for decades. Huge swatches of boring routine work that people did even fifteen years ago are now completely gone, at least if you're not using Solaris 10.)

tech/ModernAgeGreatness written at 01:30:08; Add Comment

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