AOH :: P19-06.TXT

Phrack Editorial on Microbashing

                               ==Phrack Inc.==

                     Volume Two, Issue 19, Phile #6 of 8

Phrack Editorial on Microbashing

I was toying with the idea of writing a history of the Microcomputer
Revolution, viewed through the eyes of one who lived through it, perhaps with
some recollections of a Telecommunications Hobbyist thrown in for spice.

Upon reflection however, I thought that I might use this forum to address a
problem that has bothered me for some time.  I refer to the phenomena of

This is, in my opinion, a serious problem in the MicroUnderground.

For the record, I'm 36 years old, I have been screwing around with computers,
Mainframe, Mini and Micro since 1976/77.  I built an Altair 8800 way back
when, and wrote what may have been the first software pirating program.
(Something that mass produced papertape copies of Bill Gates' Altair BASIC).
I also built a TV Typewriter based on Don Lancaster's designs, and a 100 baud
modem to go along with it.  For the record, I use a Commodore 64 computer.  I
have a 1200 baud modem, two disk drives, a spiffy printer and a color monitor.
For the record, I sold an Apple //e to buy the C64.  I have never regretted
that decision.

Now, there are those who will read that last sentence and say to themselves,
"Fuckin' Commie user!  He SOLD an Apple to buy a Commie? What an asshole!"
Now, I could say to the Apple //e user who thinks that, "You poor boob!  You
spent all that money for a //e!  Plus all that extra cash for plug in cards so
it can do what my C64 has built in? Geeze!  Some folks need keepers!"

That, Gentle Readers, is microbashing.  So, in the space of a few minutes,
this hypothetical exchange has engendered ill feelings, if not outright
hostility.  What a waste of time and effort!  We both have powerful computers
that I could not even begin to imagine could exist 12 (12!) years ago.  My
Altair had 16k of RAM in it, and I thought that was hot stuff!  Most folks
only had 4 to 8k in their homebrew micros. I even had a disk drive!  A huge
monster that weighed 20 pounds, used 8 inch single sided disks that had all of
120k of storage.  This whole system, complete with TeleType (my
terminal/printer) cost about $5000 in 1977 dollars.  In 1988 dollars, maybe
$15000.  (My little C64 system, total cost less than $1000 just blows that
Altair/Teletype out of the water).

What are the roots of microbashing?  I'm not sure, but here are some thoughts.

Status, I'm sure, plays a major role in microbashing.  A C64/128 will always
cost less than an equivalent Apple //e system.  "My computer cost more than
your computer!  Therefore, my computer is better!  Nyah!" By that logic, my
old $5000/$15000 Altair is a better computer than most Apple machines.
Patently ridiculous, isn't it?  (I've noticed that there is now a Let's Bash
the //e subculture developing among the Mac Plus, SE and II crowd, along with
//gs users.  I do take a perverse pleasure, I'm sorry to say, with all this.
The shoe is now on the other foot, eh?)

Conformity, particularly among the teenage/young adult users, might also be a
factor.  "Everyone important uses Apples.  Only gameplayers use Kmart toy
computers.  If you don't use an Apple, you ain't shit!"  The peer pressure of
Conformity is a powerful thing.

A mate of mine in the Computer Services department at Harvard has a Mac II on
his desk at work and a Mac Plus at home.  Another friend has a Zenith AT clone
at his office at the Mitre Corporation in Maryland and an Apple ][+ at home. A
good friend of mine who's an editor at a major disk-based publication had a
//gs given to him by Apple.  All these guys are high powered computer users.
The guy at Harvard is their UNIX wizard.  The fellow in MD is a GS-13 employed
by the Air Force as a general purpose  MS-DOS/ADA wizard, and just spent
$1000000 to fund distributed processing research at Los Alamos.  The last
person is the Apple edition editor at this publication.  Not a single one of
them wastes a second denigrating my C64.  Now, if these guys consider me a
peer, an equal, (and they do!) and they don't care what computer I use, why do
some //e users waste their time and energy putting down the C64?

A third factor may be the sneaking suspicion that, "Geeze!  If a C64 can do
all that, why did I spend all that money on an Apple?"  Guilt and self doubt
can be a powerful factor in microbashing.  "If I put Commies down enough,
maybe other people will buy Apples and then I won't be the only one who has
one."  Psychologists call that "Transference."  Transferring the negative
feelings/doubt about oneself to something else and then denigrating that
something else.  The Old Testament calls it a "Scapegoat."

I suppose what I'm finally trying to say is let's all grow up and stop this
foolish bickering and sniping.  No one profits, and we all lose.  We lose
time, information, disk space on BBSs, companionship and fun!  I don't like to
see some Apple user bashing Commodore.  Neither do I enjoy seeing a C64 user
bashing a TI user, as I dislike watching that TI user make fun of someone with
an Adam.  Don't you think we have more important things to do than make
mountains out of molehills when it comes to our respective computers?

I do.  If we can't act any better than a kindergarten kid whining over a toy,
then maybe we don't deserve these powerful tools we have sitting on our

Written by THE NIGHTSTALKER, June, 1988.

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