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Apple Hardware Technology

Osborne 1 vs. IPad 2 249

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the there-actually-is-only-one dept.
On Saturday we ran a story about the 30th Anniversary of the Osborne Computer, and today we have an amusing head-to-head: Osborne 1 vs the iPad 2. StormDriver starts: "At first, they seem to belong in completely different weight categories. Osborne 1 is just under 11 kg, enough to pull your arm out of the socket, if you're a skinny geek. That's roughly 20 times more than an iPad, or about the same as whole suitcase of them But what about the processing power? Osbourne 1 was sporting a Z80 CPU, running at a stunning frequency of 4.0 MHz. You cannot compare the different architectures directly, but iPad's CPU is a dual core A5, clocked at up to 1 GHz. That's approximately three hundred times more, not counting in the vastly superior architecture. Z80 CPU was supported by whooping 64KB of system memory. Surprisingly, it was enough to run databases, word processors and complex, professional software. Today's iPad is equipped with 512MB of RAM (roughly one thousand times more), and some reviewers complain it's a bit on the low side."
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Osborne 1 vs. IPad 2

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  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:33AM (#35720350)

    Next articles to include:
    Rubber tires vs wooden.
    Model T vs 2011 Kia.
    LEDs vs Candles.

    • by vawwyakr (1992390) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:37AM (#35720396)
      2011 Kia? How much of an improvement is that really over the Model T?
      • by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:39AM (#35720428)

        2011 Kia? How much of an improvement is that really over the Model T?

        More colors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, look at the order:
        Rubber tires vs wooden.
        Model T vs 2011 Kia.
        LEDs vs Candles.

        I just assumed that the Model T was considered the obviously better one.

      • Just how much of an improvement is a keyboard, mouse, and display over Hollerith Cards?

        The transmission involved multiple foot pedals and a lever. The throttle on the model T is also a lever.

        • Just how much of an improvement is a keyboard, mouse, and display over Hollerith Cards?

          The Osborne came with a keyboard . . .

      • From a raw performance point of view, the iPad vs Osborne comparison would be more like Bugatti Veyron vs 1870 Strassenwagen.
      • Kias aren't bad cars. I've hear good tings about the Koup. It would be a really awesome-looking car if it had the dimensions of an '80s sports car rather than being a modern monstrosity.

      • 2011 Kia? How much of an improvement is that really over the Model T?

        Drive each of them into a concrete wall at 25 mph and get back to me. I recommend you do this with the Kia first.

    • by morgauxo (974071)
      I like the Kia to iPad comparison. I'm not so sure about the others though.
    • by morgauxo (974071)
      Model T - slowly took the user to wherever they want to go, steered with a steering wheel Kia - looks nicer but only goes places that are downhill, hard to use the steering wheel when you are outside pushing Osborn - slowly executed the user's software, keyboards are easy to use iPad - only executes Apple approved software, no keyboard, have to trade screen space for a crappy simulation of a keyboard
  • Now compare (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:34AM (#35720356)
    The size of say, the spreadsheet program's binary files on both machines and ask yourself exactly how many of those "features" you actually use.
    • by Inda (580031)
      All of them. And I even write extra functions; "features".

      No all of us use spreadsheets to compile lists.

      The best one I wrote pulled data points from a remote power station and calculated the creep life of the boiler headers.

      My old Spectrum 48k ran a spreadsheet. Tell me I could have used that to calculate creep life.
      • by Hatta (162192)

        Wouldn't something like R be better suited to that kind of data analysis?

        • by demonbug (309515)

          Wouldn't something like R be better suited to that kind of data analysis?

          What does he look like, a filthy Pirate?

        • by jank1887 (815982)

          probably, but only if you're starting with an equivalent knowledge base. in a spreadsheet, you need to know how to enter formulas. In R, you need to know how to program, and then use the formulas in the program. Speed isn't an issue. These aren't realtime calculations. I would say the next logical step toward a 'more correct' mathematical framework for comupting these things would be a Matlab or Octave. At least there you can almost completely decouple writing the algorithm from managing the programming asp

          • Spreadsheets also have the unfortunate characteristic that the code and data are mixed together, with no clear indicator of which cells are which. Granted that they have become better over the years— dialog boxes popping up asking if you really want to overwrite a formula with a fixed value— but I've spent more miserable hours than I care to think about tracking down errors in other people's spreadsheets that turn out to be "Someone overwrote a formula at some point."
    • The size of say, the spreadsheet program's binary files on both machines and ask yourself exactly how many of those "features" you actually use.

      The average "geek" can not realistically answer this question for the "average" business user. The facts are (good or bad) that most businesses of any significant size use Excel spreadsheets that include complex scripting macros and othe "advanced" features. Sure, in your mom's basement you don't need these features to track your WoW loot, but *real* businesses actually *do* use the advanced spreadsheet functionality.

      • That's Rift loot, you insensitive clod!
      • by vlm (69642)

        The facts are (good or bad) that most businesses of any significant size use Excel spreadsheets that include complex scripting macros and othe "advanced" features.

        Come on man, I'm there and its exclusively used as the corporate standard database management system and the most advanced features we use are exclusively typographical (Could you center that title, put it in Times-Roman, blue, and make it bigger?)

        I worked at a place that used lotus-123 as its desktop publishing system. No other word processor had quite that advanced, flexible, and easy to use system for tabs/columns -n- forms.

    • I think this is more a commentary on the poor state of many programs today. Back when the Osborne was on the market, programmers had to get the most out of every byte of memory and every cycle of the CPU. Now, nobody cares about efficiency, we just put it on a faster bigger computer and throw away the "obsolete" computer. Yes, this also happened "way back when" but paying a thousand or more on a computer made people think twice before upgrading.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Look at the cost of software development ($$$, time, etc.) and ask yourself exactly how much would you have to pay, or in the case of "free" software, wait for a program that does what and only what you do, versus a program which offers tremendous functionality to cover the needs of most users.

      Features you don't use != bloat. I don't use solvers in spreadsheets, and rarely ever use pivot tables, and I practically never use charts any more. However, many people in the corporate world do, and many people serv

    • by westlake (615356)

      The size of say, the spreadsheet program's binary files on both machines and ask yourself exactly how many of those "features" you actually use.

      The geek spends too much time alone.

      MS Office rules because it scales to an enterprise of any size .

      A clerical worker - often a temp - can be assigned any available machine on a twenty-five acre campus and still be productive in her specialty.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:36AM (#35720390)

    The Osborne 1 was an amazing machine, but the Osborne 2 was going to be even more amazing. Since it never got a chance to be released, comparing a second generation iPad to the Oz1 seems a bit unfair.

    What about apples and oranges? These have never been fairly compared.

    • my 30 years old Osborne can CRUSH your ipad2, and will barely have a scratch...

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Nevermind the "funny".

      The osborne could be used to:

      1) generally type
      2) process words
      3) enter spreadsheets
      4) compute data
      5) analyze data
      6) anything involving programming

      IE, it was actually pretty useful as a computer.

      The iphone/pad/whatever:

      1) play angry birds
      2) watch hulu
      3) chat/IM (sorta)
      4) consume other content

      A better comparison to the ipad would be to early Pong and/or color televisions. It does win there, but not as a general computing device.

      • I borrowed a friend's iPad a couple of weeks ago and all I did was create content with it:

        - Recorded various sound samples from around Chicago
        - Edited some of them down and made instruments out of them
        - Used them to create some rhythm tracks
        - Mixed those in with some previously created tracks to make a couple of variations of a song
        - Took and tweaked a few photos of the various places I was when recording the sounds
        - Wrote about the process in my blog, uploaded the songs & photos

        Did about half of this w

  • by ari_j (90255) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:42AM (#35720466)
    Leaving to the side the content of the story itself, this is just another blog that someone has succeeded in getting free advertising for thanks to Slashdot's willingness to post retarded crap. But the most annoying part is that the blogger is illiterate. There's a difference between whooping and whopping, for instance. He also sucks at math, as others have pointed out. If Slashdot is going to feed the world other people's blogs all day, can we at least get some that are well-written about topics of interest to nerds over the age of 5?
    • by MrHanky (141717)

      s/retarded crap/retarded crap about iGadgets/g. If it's a retarded non-story, and it's on Slashdot, it's most likely yet another story hyping Apple.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        It's not limited to hyping Apple. Often, it's hyping Facebook, or hyping Google, or hyping some random company that I'm pretty sure is cheating to get voted up in the Firehose.

        It would be interesting to just start tagging all of them as "advert" (since that's what they are) and see what percentage got that tag.

        • by Ltap (1572175)
          The worst are the lame ones that are obviously done by market-savvy one-man contracting firms; stuff like "x is horribly insecure, but OverPriced, Ltd. can help you secure your systems," or "y is the great new direction in computing, says (Marketing Dept. of company that sells y." Technical people are often just as susceptible to marketing as anyone else; the endorsement of Apple by people who should really know better is a symptom of that and the 'rebound' to Microsoft or other traditional "big bad" compan
  • Progress... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C A S S I E L (16009) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:46AM (#35720542) Homepage

    Users were allowed to program the Osborne - it had a built-in programming language interpreter. iPad? Verboten.

    • by tsa (15680)

      Can you run Linux on an iPad already?

    • Re:Progress... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:53AM (#35721388) Homepage Journal

      The Osborne didn't have a built in anything. It had just enough BIOS to load a few K of operating system. That OS was written directly in Z80 assembly language. I don't remember if the assembler came with the OS or not; I don't think it did. I know that even C was an add-on I had to buy it, and I think the assembler came with it.

      It did come with CBASIC and MBASIC. It's a bit hard to describe those as "built in" except that they came in the same box. They weren't really practical languages for serious work, though. (CBASIC was supposed to be, but it never worked very well.) We're talking REAL basic, with GOTOs and all, and GOSUB if you wanted to get all structured-programming. (Oh, and that M stands for Microsoft. Thank you, Bill Gates.)

      It was "open" in more or less the same way a bag of resistors, capacitors, and transistors is open: you can roll anything at all you want. Just don't expect a lot of help.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Users were allowed to program the Osborne - it had a built-in programming language interpreter. iPad? Verboten.

      *WAS* verboten. Apple recanted, which is why Adobe's Flash to iOS compiler is back on the table, game devs can embed Lua without worrying about a thing, Python interpreters [appshopper.com], and even a BASIC interpreter [appshopper.com].

  • by Exitar (809068) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:48AM (#35720574)

    With the Osborne 1, people got introduced to the world of programming and were able to actually learn and produce something.
    With the iPad 2, people can post on Facebook what they did eat for breakfast (does Jobs still allows posting on Facebook, doesn't he?)

    • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:55AM (#35721410) Homepage Journal
      First, there is no reason why one cannot program an iPad. It costs $100. Freetards will complain, but there it is. I don't see how Apple can stop us from setting up Git with a whole slew of apps that we can personally share and compile and load on our personal machines. That this isn't happening is more an indication that people are more pissed off that they cannot download free cool apps than they are about not being able to code those cool apps. I happen to know kids that are programming because the iPhone has peaked their interest. They jailbreak the phone and program. Because they are doing something vaguely illegal, it makes it more exiting.

      The Osbourne 1 was a cool machines, but mostly I saw it used for writing and the like. It was an affordable machine that seemed more 'bushiness like' than the Apple ][, which, frankly, did more than the Osbourne. Applesoft Basic allowed us to do way more cool stuff than the Osborne machine, and in many ways was more portable.

      In terms of transportable machines, the company went bankrupt because it did so little. Besides the Mac being a much more portable and powerful machine 4 years after the Osburne 1 was introduced, there were also other competitors on it's tail. The Tandy 200 certainly had all the critical features, costs less, and was way more portable. I got huge amounts on work done on that machine.

      In terms of inexpensive on the go programming, the casio/sharp/tandy pocket computers were the way to go. They had a rudimentary basic language. I recall writing an program to solve matrixes, compute simple physics equations and the like. Of course now if a program is not a game the it isn't programming, but back then we were happy if a we could program a computer to do our homework.

  • by sticks_us (150624) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:49AM (#35720582) Homepage

    ...not trolling, either.

    Why?

    - Real, physical keyboard
    - Easy access to the filesystem
    - The ability to install whatever you want, and use the computer however you want
    - Tons of languages, dev tools, and compilers (were) available for various languages
    - I/O ports for useful tasks like printing ...and so on. Osborne 1 is much more suited for geekery.

    • ...not trolling, either.

      Why?

      - The ability to install whatever you want, and use the computer however you want

      Of course, with no hard disk, "install" meant something a little different than it does today.

    • So for all of those great features that you think the Osborne had over the iPad, what would you actually have *used* it for? Checking Facebook? Writing emails? Watching tv? Reading a book? It strikes me that this is what all the iPad haters seem to miss: it's fantastic to actually *use*. The Osborne, with that tiny monitor and pitiful hardware, would be virtually useless by today's standards... And yet you would rather have it. Normal people would rather have the iPad.

    • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @01:47PM (#35722656)

      Why?

      - Real, physical keyboard
      - Easy access to the filesystem
      - The ability to install whatever you want, and use the computer however you want
      - Tons of languages, dev tools, and compilers (were) available for various languages
      - I/O ports for useful tasks like printing ...and so on. Osborne 1 is much more suited for geekery.

      How about the real reason:

      - It's not a device made by Apple

      Say what you want, but lets be realistic here...that's the real reason.

    • Real, physical keyboard

      You can add this [apple.com] to the iPad.

  • Z80 CPU was supported by whooping 64KB of system memory.

    Was it celebrating something? Or did it have case of pertussis, the poor thing?

    • Didn't you get the twitter? Whooping is the new rad. Next time you see a hawt girl be sure to tell her how Ebola she looks*
      *Void where prohibited. I am not responsible for any slaps or STDs or babies that may occur from using such phrases.
  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @10:52AM (#35720634)

    Surprisingly, it was enough to run databases, word processors and complex, professional software. Today's iPad is equipped with 512MB of RAM (roughly one thousand times more), and some reviewers complain it's a bit on the low side.

    This is not surprising at all. The general trend over the intervening three decades has been to trade efficiency for development time. The result is applications that are often less responsive than their primitive predecessors which were written in hand-coded assembly language. Moreover, because most users -- especially corporate users -- only upgrade their software when they replace their machines, often when a new package has increased hardware demands, there's a feedback effect between hardware and software vendors, with less efficient resource hogging software driving hardware sales which in turn drives the sales of new licenses for established software. As application categories mature -- when was the last time you saw a new word processor or spreadsheet feature worth paying for an upgrade? -- this becomes the only driver of substantial new sales.

    Software has to get worse for both industries to maintain their desired growth rates. And because technical users ceased to be the majority of users decades ago, the industry has largely managed to get away with it. I had hoped FOSS software would have reversed this trend since FOSS is largely free of market pressures, but the Free Software folks could never sully themselves by making end-user-friendly software, and the Open Source folks were bent on imitating the very corporations they despised. Ergo, you can have Microsoft Office hog your resources or have OpenOffice.org hog your resources or you can use emacs or vim to write your documents in LaTeX. The user gets screwed either way, profits continue as normal for Intel, Apple, and Microsoft, and FOSS remains a minor player in userspace.

    • by tsa (15680)

      Yes I still think it's weird that you have to use what in the 1980s and maybe even early 1990s was considered a supercomputer just to run a word processor. Imagine what your modern laptop can do if programmed in machine language by competent people, like the home computers of the 1980s were!

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:48AM (#35721342) Homepage Journal

      Not exactly correct. Take wordstar for example and compare it to any modern program.
      Fonts? Yea right you where lucky if the screen could display bold and italics.
      Graphics? What?
      Spell checker? It was a separate program you ran.

      The good old days where not so go. Calcstar and Visicalc? Not bad but they are very limited to the dataset they can use. If you want Visicalc you can still run it on a new PC. It is really fast and very tiny.

      Yes Wordstar could run in 64k. It could even handle very big docs but it did so by keeping them on disk. Do a search and replace on a large doc and you will learn patience. Yes it is so much nicer now to be a programmer. You can expect megabytes of free memory so you can put an entire document in memory at once and not worry about it. Customers do want to handle much larger datasets then they used to. Many graphical images are larger then the entire mass storage available on an a Micro from the 80s. Sound files are larger than the hard drives of the IBM XT and AT when they first shipped.
      As someone that lived at the time and worked on those computers I can tell you that yes there where some great highly optimized programs back in the day. The thing is they where also feature limited. Today we are resource rich so we can put the effort into more features. With a good program every feature is there because someone wanted it or it solved a problem for the users.
      Hey if you want to go back to the "good old days" you can grab the source to joe and add dot commands and printing.
      Now I do agree with you in one area. Feature creep is a problem. Most people only use 10% of Microsoft Word or Excel. There are many times when I do wish that I could have a small fast spreadsheet or WordProcessor that loaded quickly and then went away just as quick. Mainly a spreadsheet. We are also missing Personal Information Managers. We have great databases but no really good tools for dealing with what I think of as list managers. Evernote isn't bad and frankly we are using universal search more and more to solve that issue.

      • Not exactly correct. Take wordstar for example and compare it to any modern program.
        Fonts? Yea right you where lucky if the screen could display bold and italics.
        Graphics? What?
        Spell checker? It was a separate program you ran.

        A more informative comparison might be made between Office 97 and Office 2010. The overwhelming majority of the features in Office 2010 were already present in Office 97, but I could comfortably run Office 97 on a 100 MHz Pentium with 8 megs of RAM and have several other programs, including Photoshop, open at the same time with little or no noticeable lag. The resource requirements have grown much, much faster than the functionality.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      The result is applications that are often less responsive than their primitive predecessors which were written in hand-coded assembly language.

      True in part, but not entirely down to the pointy-haired bosses. Modern applications are doing vastly more than their primitive predecessors, if only in terms of user interface. A Z80 would take ages just to refresh a modern screen from a pre-rendered bitmap - hell, a Z80 couldn't directly address enough memory to hold a modern screen image. Also, old-school wordprocessors like WordStar are only the "primitive ancestors" of basic text editors: all modern wordprocessors are effectively fully-fledged "desktop

  • by Scorchio (177053)

    I wonder if in 30 years we'll be looking back at the iPad 2 and wondering how we managed to do anything with something so slow, restricted and clunky. And what will we be comparing it to? Back in my day we had touchscreens, none of this neural implant junk...

    • Imagine how flabby the arms will be for future generations of geeks. At least with the Osborne geeks got some exercise lifting the thing. ;)
      • by kiehlster (844523)
        This is why I don't mind lugging around my 18-cell laptop. Any day now I'll have ladies flocking to my brawn. Any day now... Eh hem. Any day...
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      I wonder if in 30 years we'll be looking back at the iPad 2 and wondering how we managed to do anything with something so slow, restricted and clunky.

      Or we could be looking back at the iPad2 and thinking "Ye gods, wasn't computing so much more fun back then..."

      Come on, with the likes of the Osbourne, Sinclair ZX81, BBC Micro all turning 30 this year, who here is over 40 and not thinking the same thing now...

  • at least Ozzy has an original style.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @11:20AM (#35720970)

    Which of the two is more useful for mission critical work. Say, Osborne had a real keyboard and support for removable storage media.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      True but the Osborne cost $4000 adjusted for inflation and over $1700 in 1980 dollars. So lets compare it to say a MacBook Air, Mac Book Pro, or any number of Windows 7 Notebooks and the value really shifts.
      Or you could compare the iPad to say an Atari 400, Apple II, or say a Commodore 64. Adjusted for inflation maybe even a VIC-20. Just to be fair the iPad is really more of a home system than a business tool right now.

  • I worked for Oasis Systems/FTL Games back in the early 1980s; we had software than ran on the Osborne 1 ("The Word Plus" spelling checker; "Punctuation + Style" grammar checker). In fact, if I remember correctly, we used a utility package running on the Osborne 1 to create most of our other 5.25" CP/M disk formats; there was no standard 5.25" disk format for CP/M, and so we had to create different disks for most different computers running CP/M.

    Adam Osborne was actually a columnist for InfoWorld who, after

  • In his June 4, 1984 "Inside Track" column in Infoworld (p.95), John C Dvorak wrote this:
    "Apparently there is an advertisement in one of the munitions magazines that goes something like this:
    "The Guy on the Right Doesn't Stand a Chance. The guy on the right has the Osborne 1, a fully functional computer system in a portable package the size of a briefcase. The guy on the left has an Uzi submachine gun concealed in his attache case. Also in the case

  • Did they compare battery life? Oh wait.

    Seriously, I think the Model 100 [wikipedia.org] would be a more interesting comparison. (FYI, battery life on a Model 100 was about 20 hours on 4xAA alkalines.)

  • ..whopping 64KB

    ..4MHz

    Sure, for those of you out there who weren't around to own and program computers with an 8-bit processor like a Z80, it sounds like a joke, but back in the day these were the cutting-edge of computing technology, and businesses and scientists and engineers used them just like modern machines are used today, except without most of the bells and whistles. Why is 512MB considered unacceptably small now? Because the software we write is utterly bloated. Back in the day, you generally didn't write serious soft

  • by aardwolf64 (160070) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @12:42PM (#35721956) Homepage

    The grammar in that article is making my eyes bleed... and not in a good way.

  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @04:08PM (#35724008) Homepage

    The Osborne was designed with the assumption that it's purchasers would be intelligent enough to read a couple manuals and learn some basic skills. It offered even greater power to those who went beyond the basics.

    The iPad assumes you are an idiot who can't be expected to learn a damn thing. Heck, you probably can't even be bothered to touch things with your finger unless they are shiny and smooth. Master the complexity of touching things? Great, but unlike learning the basics of the Orborne, it won't help you actually understand anything about how the system works. The interface is so far abstracted from the machine that you won't ever learn anything by using it.

    Products that cater to the ignorant may find marketing success, but ultimately they do our society a massive disservice.

Do not simplify the design of a program if a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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