A choice of its time

"You and your team have been qualified and required to intervene over the year 1987 when an inprobable but actual war broke loose with an external force. By a mere divergence in fragmentation of choices, the history changed dramatically from what you already know to be a consistent set of events. Frozen in that era but with your contemporary knowledge, you are directed by a form of unified front to serve in a project called “future era computation and liberty” that everybody in that meeting agreed never to compose an acronym about.

This role involves your team to stop any worldwide scattered developments in that computing age and form a unified platform that would firstly serve war efforts.
It is this excercise’s scope to learn (or belearn) what computers could have risen as from such a unified event and why. And, after the war would be over, how would the computer industry look like? How would games look like?"

Obviously, the only choice appropriate for Project FECAL is the Commode-ore. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.


War where? Who won? I decade earlier I suspect computer history could have changed.
The USA always controled the computer industry, very little really could have

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Where were we in 1987, I wondered…

  • Acorn Archimedes, Apple Newton (Edit: oops, Newton “development begun” in '87, but no product until '93. Psion 3 doesn’t arrive until '91. Atari Portfolio in '89. We get the Tandy 1400 LT in '87.)

  • Intel’s 386, PS/2 computers, OS/2 operating system

  • Mac II with 68020, Hypercard

  • The SPARC-based Sun-4

  • MINIX - and Oberon

  • The first (beta) release of GCC

And we should note, Smalltalk was 15 years old, the Dynabook conceived 19 years earlier and elaborated only 10 years before:

The Dynabook vision was most fully laid out in Kay’s 1977 article “Personal Dynamic Media”, co-authored with collaborator (and Smalltalk co-inventor) Adele Goldberg.

See also

1987 | Timeline of Computer History | Computer History Museum


Computer History - 1987


I was in my third year of college in 1987, and the campus was still ruled jointly by two VAXen and a Cyber-170. I had recently discovered that I wasn’t often the smartest person in the class anymore, and my ego took a bit of a hit. I had also recently discovered partying, and my GPA would soon take a similar hit.

At home were an Apple ][+ and a Commodore 64, neither with a modem.

An IBM PC clone with a smallish hard-disk was in charge at my workplace.


1987 also had the Transputer… if something had happened to disrupt the American semiconductor industry, the Transputer and/or the ARM might well have filled the void. Both of these were actually competitive at the time, but were unable to keep up over time.