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with an Apple Macintosh you can’t run Radio Shack programs
January 24, 2010 9:43 PM   Subscribe

16-bit Intel 8088 chip by Charles Bukowski.

16-bit Intel 8088 chip

with an Apple Macintosh
you can’t run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.
nor can a Commodore 64
drive read a file
you have created on an
IBM Personal Computer.
both Kaypro and Osborne computers use
the CP/M operating system
but can’t read each other’s
handwriting
for they format (write
on) discs in different
ways.
the Tandy 2000 runs MS-DOS but
can’t use most programs produced for
the IBM Personal Computer
unless certain
bits and bytes are
altered
but the wind still blows over
Savannah
and in the Spring
the turkey buzzard struts and
flounces before his
hens.

– Charles Bukowski
posted by ennui.bz (35 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is fascinating. I thought it was maybe going to just be a poem, but then I read the article. The whole issue of "born digital" items being kept in archives is something barely addressed by many modern-day librarians, even though people like Bukowski were writing on computers back in the 1990s. Great article, thank you.
posted by jessamyn at 9:51 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


me?
I want to go
the next step
beyond the
computer.
I'm sure it's
there.


from my computer by Charles Bukowski.
posted by joedan at 9:53 PM on January 24, 2010


What? This guy doesn't know anything, let alone 6502 ASM. Lame.
posted by pelham at 9:54 PM on January 24, 2010


The 808 kick drum/
makes the girlies get dumb


"My Posse's On Broadway," Sir Mix-a-Lot
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:55 PM on January 24, 2010 [6 favorites]



A dogcow makes
a moof. An aliasing bug
can smash the stack.

posted by miyabo at 9:57 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Charles Bukowski ... William Burroughs ... Suddenly,every single computer manual/mangle I have ever read makes sense!
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:57 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was going to try to make a post that looked like a poem.

That Bukowski would write
But I can not

Because I am not a poet
But just really drunk
At 12:56 PM

And wishing I had talent
Or less vodka.

Or maybe i just miss my

Commodore...
posted by Splunge at 9:58 PM on January 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Beat poet Gary Snyder, 79, offers praise for his Macintosh.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:04 PM on January 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason, no one ever mentions that that Snyder poem is a parody.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:09 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haiku

Bukowski had a
Face that would stop a train but
We love him no less.
posted by Splunge at 10:11 PM on January 24, 2010


Yes, you have a strange project: electronic books. It might be the future as more and more people find that the computer is such a magic thing: time-saver, charmer, energizer.”

I can

remember the day, back in the day so
it seemed that the world would open
and things would become easy we'd flow
through cyberspace on ono-sendai decks
but instead of freeing the mind, all day
people play farmville.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 PM on January 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


“But, still, when [the electronic book] comes I will still miss the old fashioned book.”

I hope that when the future comes
there will still be some
who, despite the advances of their times,
find joy in the smell of libraries.

I hope they still
have libraries.
they might not.

that's ok.
there are some things
that people used to have
that we don't have

and some things
the people of the future have--
the near-ineffables--
will one day be forgotten too
because that's how it goes.


but still,
that smell
posted by joedan at 10:40 PM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was young, all I knew was BASIC. Life was simple then. There was no left or right, just forward and back. You just kept on going, going and going forward. Occasionally, you would be told to go somewhere else. But those instructions were always explicit, and you always knew where to go. Everything was just one long story, and if you knew one thing, you knew everything. If something went wrong, you would get a beep, and be dropped into the scary, unsure world of ASSEMBLER. This was black magic, the stuff of bad dreams. Better to just turn it off and on, forget that it ever happened.

But then I got older, and I learned C. My world grew and expanded. I learned about responsibility; if you ask for memory, that memory is yours to take care of. If you shoot yourself in the foot, its your own fault. I learned that life is not just one long story, but is actually made of many small ones, and each small story has its own memory. It wasn’t enough to just go forward anymore. There were many directions to go in, left and right among them. And if someone told you to go somewhere, that might not be a good thing at all. They might not have any right to tell you where to go. And finally, if you’re wrong, you are told about it in great detail. Unfortunately, you are told in a very limited vocabulary, and are often left asking yourself the question, “What did I do?”

And finally, I learned Java. The world is simpler and more complex than it has ever been. I know that life is not a long story, or even a series of short stories. Life is not a story at all. It is about relationships between objects. Every object has its own particular qualities, its own way of interacting with other objects, and its own preferred way of being treated. Not only do these objects have their own memories, but they can protect their memories. Apparently, an object can be thrown completely out of whack if the other objects know too much about it, or have too much power to change it’s information. This lesson of information hiding was probably the hardest of all.

Forward, back, left, right, who cares about any of that when you have inward and outward? Especially Outward. One can take a step or several steps back if they wish, seeing the grand plan of everything, soaring to the heady heights of outward.

In this world, if you are wrong, an exception is thrown. This is good. It gives you a sort of sixth sense, an animal instinct. Of course, if you don’t have a good exception handler, your performance is still awkward and erratic.

Recently, I’ve heard that even my Object-Oriented knowledge of the world may be off by a long shot. I’ve heard that the world may actually be Functional after all. Imagine a world with no information, only action. (or is it the other way around?) The ONLY way to go is inward and outward, and furthermore, you will have the freedom to create yourself. You may even create yourself creating yourself. In this world, recursion will be cherished, instead of spurned. Can we imagine such a world? Can we create such a world?

Of the many programming languages I’ve known, some have become obsolescent. I know that someday, I may, as well.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 PM on January 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


This is fascinating. I thought it was maybe going to just be a poem, but then I read the article.

Likewise. Unexpectedly fascinating and even moving. Great stuff.
posted by Epenthesis at 11:32 PM on January 24, 2010


I've always thought that Charles Bukowski's poems would have been much more interesting and meaningful if he'd written them in COBOL 59.
posted by koeselitz at 2:32 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is just to say


I have erased
the diskettes
that were in
the desk drawer

and which
you were probably
saving
files upon

Forgive me
they were spacious
but needed reformatting
for CP/M
posted by mmoncur at 3:00 AM on January 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


That was interesting piece.

Flying in the face of the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” Bukowski kept an open mind about new technologies.


Of course a significant part of his writing career took place when he was an old dog, so maybe he was better-equiped than others.
posted by ersatz at 4:02 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammels and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.
posted by Sailormom at 5:30 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nitpick : the 8088 was an 8086 with an 8 bit data bus - it wasn't truly 16 bit.
posted by rfs at 6:35 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


with an Apple Macintosh
you can’t run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.
nor can a Commodore 64
...


Many naysayers like to complain about the monopoly of intel, microsoft and the PC platform. Well, just imagine what the internet and modern IT would be like, with a proliferation of standards and formats, all of which are mutually incompatible with each other.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2010


Nitpick : the 8088 was an 8086 with an 8 bit data bus - it wasn't truly 16 bit.
Thanks rfs, I was just about to point that out too
posted by samsara at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2010


This style reminds me
of something.
Let me share
The Story of Mel,
A Real Programmer.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:52 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Many naysayers like to complain about the monopoly of intel, microsoft and the PC platform. Well, just imagine what the internet and modern IT would be like, with a proliferation of standards and formats, all of which are mutually incompatible with each other.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 9:49 AM on January 25 [+] [!]


*Sputter*
*Ahem*
Better check your computing history there; the Wintel road of internet development has not been the yellow brick one that you see.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:04 AM on January 25, 2010


You know who would've loved Word Processors?
Jack Keroauc.
Forget teletype rolls, Jack:
welcome to the infinite scroll.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:30 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh for fuck's sake: Kerouac
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:36 AM on January 25, 2010


I don't know if Jack could have made it through the Twitter era.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:27 AM on January 25, 2010


Nitpick : the 8088 was an 8086 with an 8 bit data bus - it wasn't truly 16 bit.

Yeah, the 8088 had the 8-bit bus; the 8086 had a 16-bit one. The final digit was a handy mnemonic for reminding you of which chip was which - if your machine didn't have a handy "turbo" button for switching between the two.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:00 AM on January 25, 2010


I don't know if Jack could have made it through the Twitter era.

#Brooklyn - Winter, too cold to write
 on the bolts of the beams 
in the bridge steel
 High. Want a bagel, and a jug of wine.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:04 AM on January 25, 2010


I miss the turbo button
posted by empath at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look Bukowski, I don't get drunk and complain about poetry so step off and mind your own goddamn business.
posted by GuyZero at 11:10 AM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fuzzy Monster: “You know who would've loved Word Processors? / Jack Kerouac.”

RobotVoodooPower: “I don't know if Jack could have made it through the Twitter era.”

Sad to say, Jack Kerouac didn't even make it through the 60s without becoming a drunk, angry, hippie-hating, pro-Viet Nam-war jerk who regularly appeared on William F Buckley's Firing Line program as a sort of ex-beat neoconservative curmudgeon. 'Tis unfortunate, and not a happy thing to learn about for those who really love his work.

So it's hard to know how he would've felt about computers.
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 PM on January 25, 2010


Sometimes I think
Bukowski's Women would have been
completely different
had he discovered
Internet porn
and sometimes I think
it would have been
exactly the same.
posted by Sparx at 12:55 PM on January 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


thermonuclear.jive.turkey: “Many naysayers like to complain about the monopoly of intel, microsoft and the PC platform. Well, just imagine what the internet and modern IT would be like, with a proliferation of standards and formats, all of which are mutually incompatible with each other.”

The proliferation of standards and formats isn't natural to computers, nor was it a simple product of different places and styles of development. People were porting Unix, for example, onto machines in 1970 already, right after it'd been developed; within a few years, almost any major hardware architecture could run a version of Unix, and people had ported many different programming languages from a variety of sources into that operating system. There were a few other systems, but Unix was dominant enough to be something of a standard.

The proliferation of standards and formats that appears in these poems - Radio Shack, Apple MacIntosh, Commodore 64, etc - was in fact caused by the commercialization of the computer industry. This was inevitable, of course; but every ambitious company in the 80s wanted to set a new standard that would put them on the leading edge of development and give them the largest market share.

Also, what's ironic about your mention of "intel, microsoft, and the pc platform" is that - though this is completely natural for us now - you don't even mention IBM, who (officially, anyway) started the whole thing by designing and manufacturing the standard machines. Of course, they might have been nothing if it weren't for Compaq, who reverse-engineered their BIOS and thereby managed to start making compatible machines; IBM succeeded as an early market leader, but the inadvertent emergence of a real computer-hardware standard was what made the "IBM computer" (as I remember we called them deep into the 90s) really blow up.

Note that IBM really didn't like the fact that the standard emerged; it was pretty much forced on them. Given the choice, any company would prefer to be in Apple's position, monopolizing the manufacture of the machines in its segment. That's why this incredible array of different operating systems and machine architectures grew and grew - because of competition in the industry.
posted by koeselitz at 12:57 PM on January 25, 2010


Not arguing with anything, mind you - I just find this stuff fascinating.
posted by koeselitz at 1:00 PM on January 25, 2010


So it's hard to know how he would've felt about computers.

What you say is true. Watching his last appearance on Firing Line is so, so sad, especially when compared to his triumphant first appearance on the Steve Allen Show.

I do think, though, knowing what we know about Kerouac's working methods, the man would've loved the infinite scroll of a word processor, especially if they had been available back in the 1950s. No more teletype rolls! No more taping pages together! In his creative work Kerouac did make wide use of the technology available to him: typewriters, tape recorders (best seen in "Visions of Cody"), television and motion pictures (the classic Beat film "Pull My Daisy." ) I think that if word processors had been around in the 50s, Kerouac would've jumped at the chance to type using an infinite scroll. But you're right, we'll never know for sure because word processors weren't around in the 1950s and Keroauc drank himself to death before they came into wide use.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:56 PM on January 25, 2010


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