Manifesto of a Software Graveyard

Discussion in 'macOS' started by darkgoob, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. darkgoob macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2008
    Manifesto of a Software Graveyard

    I stand amongst the tombstones of ten thousand software titles. Each mossy, greying granite slab represents the death of a once-loved program, now forever consigned to the Trash Can of time. Here is the date it was released, here is the version of the operating system that each of its versions worked best with. Here is the date its company was acquired and the product started getting crappier. And here's the date they declared Chapter 11.

    Except unlike in the case of a dusty old book destined to be regarded as a classic in due time, these deceased applications shall know neither fame nor infamy amongst posterity. They will simply fade into oblivion as if their ones and zeroes never existed at all; their source code lost forever; the platform they once ran on, gone for good.

    This marble orchard in which I stand can be toured from remote at sites like, where certain abandonware can be resurrected from the dead, providing you've acquired the requisite old Mac emulator. However, emulation is an imperfect art, and while Apple and other companies could support it if they so desired, we all know the likelihood of that.

    No historians stroll these tombs, no academics study or write about long-forgotten code. It's assumed all modern code is so much better that there couldn't possibly be any secret, hidden wisdom to be found amongst those ancient apps. Yet those of us who knew this software back when it was alive and in its prime, we know better.

    We know that Kai's Power Tools, a set Photoshop plug-ins for the old PowerPC Macs, has never been replaced, but also, doesn't work in emulation. We know that certain cherished virtual instrument plug-ins will never make the transition to 64-bit and will never be updated to be compatible with the Nazi-like sandboxing and fascist permissions scheme of El Capitan.

    The graveyard of hardware is equally as large. Here is the mausoleum of ADB Wacom tablets; the inscription says that "no driver could be written to support the fast polling rate of ADB," but some graffiti below it says, "I wrote a custom driver and got it to work." Sadly, the bitbucket repository mentioned in the graffiti yields naught but a 404. Then there is the mass-grave of Digidesign ProTools interfaces, slowly bleeding toxic chemicals into the water table. They would be perfectly capable of producing platinum records on today's computers, that is, if any drivers existed for them.

    The most unfortunate part of all this, while resurrecting dead humans is impossible for humans to accomplish, on the other hand, mankind most certainly is capable of resurrecting all this old dead disks, and all these old perished peripherals. New drivers could be written; robust emulation environments could be created; source code could be made public domain.

    However, there is simply no profit in resurrection. Outside of a rogue band of volunteer resuscitators who meet in the dark hallways of listservs and forums, there are no real efforts to raise back up what's on the forgotten floppies and shelved CDs of the world. Some of it deserves to never see the light of day again, and some of it is only of sentimental value. But how will our children know about Now Menus or the Control Strip? How will they know about World Builder and Vette?

    And if they do not learn the lessons of Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Word 6, then as they say, history may be doomed to repeat itself. It's possible that the bad software of the past might be provide even more valuable lessons than the good.
  2. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    The lesson is: so what? Good riddance to most of that.

    One could make an argument for LPs and players, but ADB tablets?

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