So I was reading this interview with Stephen Morse the designer of the 8086 which is 30 years old this year. A couple points it makes are: being in the right place at the right time is sometimes all it takes to be part of something big and the inertia of what already exists greatly affects future designs.Here’s a couple quotes from Stephen I liked:
I always regret that I didn’t fix up some idiosyncrasies of the 8080 when I had a chance. For example, the 8080 stores the low-order byte of a 16-bit value before the high-order byte. The reason for that goes back to the 8008, which did it that way to mimic the behavior of a bit-serial processor designed by Datapoint;(a bit-serial processor needs to see the least significant bits first so that it can correctly handle carries when doing additions). Now there was no reason for me to continue this idiocy, except for some obsessive desire to maintain strict 8080 compatibility. But if I had made the break with the past and stored the bytes more logically, nobody would have objected. And today we wouldn’t be dealing with issues involving big-endian and little-endian–the concepts just wouldn’t exist.
Basically once you start a bad habit it’s hard to break, which leads on to this:
I’m a PC guy. I long resisted the Mac because there were still programs that were written for the PC and would not run on the Mac. I felt it was like the Betamax/VHS story: Betamax was a better technology, but anyone buying a Betamax recorder would have a small selection of tapes available to rent and would be limited in who they could share tapes with. Now that you can get a Mac that executes x86 code, the situation has changed somewhat, but I’ve resisted a Mac for so long that it’s hard to switch gears at this point.
I just find it humorous that these de facto standards in the industry are sometimes just the product of how someone started doing it one way and everyone followed suit, and even if there was a better or different way to do things, it’s not how everyone else is doing it, and that’s inertia… or entropy? Seems like you need a shake every so often to keep things fresh yes?