Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programmers

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Netscape won

Back when AOL was a standalone company and Sun Microsystems existed at all, Netscape said that they wanted Windows to be a buggy collection of device drivers that people used to access the web, which would be the real platform.

It took long enough that Netscape no longer exists, but they won. I have three computers that I regularly use:

  • my work Mac has one Mac-only, Mac-native app open during the day[*]. Everything else is on the web, or is cross-platform. It doesn’t particularly matter what _technology_ the cross-platform stuff is made out of because the fact that it’s cross-platform means the platform is irrelevant, and the technology is just a choice of how the vendors spend their money. I know that quite a bit of it is Electron, wrapped web, or Java.
  • my home Windows PC has some emulators for playing (old) platform-specific games, and otherwise only runs cross-platform apps[*] and accesses the web.
  • my home Linux laptop has the tools I need to write the native application I’m writing as a side project, and everything else is cross-platform or on the web.

[*] I’m ignoring the built-in file browsers, which are forced upon me but I don’t use.

posted by Graham at 08:44  


  1. I’ve been using various flavours of Unix for almost two decades now and, apart from the Solaris, IRIX and AIX system management tools, I don’t think anything I ran routinely was platform specific. The Mac builds upon this vast heritage of software that goes back to the 1970’s and beyond.

    Comment by Ricardo Bánffy — 2018-05-29 @ 09:38

  2. and now very few people use IRIX, AIX or Solaris because you can do whatever you want on Linux. As a vertically integrated supplier Apple’s platform is its advantage, and it seems like that is losing its value.

    Comment by Graham — 2018-05-31 @ 22:14

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