[Altair 8800]

"Experts", "study" and vintage computers - PRELIMINARY

This Web page last updated June 17 2009. It is a WORK IN PROGRESS. It's part of many pages about "vintage" computer restoration which are linked from a home page.

Do you have to be an "expert" and "study" to fix vintage computers? - editorial

Note: I have much more to say on this subject, but it's controversial. Some people become very upset, when their motives or priorities are discussed or made issue of. So I will take my time to write about this subject. - Herb Johnson

Over the years, many people contact me, or post emails in on-line discussions, and talk about becoming "experts" in building or operating vintage computers. Some of them write about "seeking the answers". Some want a catalog of "answers", or to chat at length about answers. A few want "the book" or "the mentor" who will give them "the answers". Others, seem to want to put themselves in the hands of "the experts", to become their students, to use them as their "mentor".

Simply put, the "experts" are not people who have in their head, a set of thousands of answers to every question one could ask about every effect of every CP/M operation, every integrated circuit. The "experts" know the principles, they know features, and if they want specifics, they either go to their books, or their code or hardware, or they WRITE some code or BUILD hardware, and see what happens. Reading books, reading and writing code, building and testing, all on the basis of understanding principles and features - that's how one becomes an "expert".

I think most anyone with interest and some capacity for a technical, detailed background, can achieve sufficient "expertize" to own, operate, restore, and repair their own "vintage" computers. But, that's not always realistic for some, and not of interest to others. And some people have issues, or limitations, which are beyond my skill-set to discuss. So it's really a personal decision to engage in these activities, and to decide what level is appropriate.

However, hardware and software don't make "decisions", they behave by certain rules, operations, and matters of physics and logical design. If one works on them without appreciating that, they are in my opinion going to be very limited in what they accomplish. Again, it's one decision to establish if such results are sufficient.

To those who strongly disagree: Some people become annoyed or outright hostile, if you question their motives, or confront them about personal issues. If you have what you think is a better idea about how to learn and teach about vintage hardware or software; then by all means, set up a chat room and Web site, and do just that! Some people have other practices, and they work for them and for their purposes. That's fine by me. I'm not looking for arguments.

- Herb Johnson

Contact information:
Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
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Copyright © 2009 Herb Johnson