[TUHS] Why did PDPs become so popular?

Alec Muffett alec.muffett at gmail.com
Thu Dec 28 07:02:11 AEST 2017

I apologise if this is too far from the main topic, but I wanted to check
an urban legend.

There is a story - as I have heard it told - that PDPs established their
place (and popularity) in the marketplace by pointedly *not* advertising
themselves as "computers", but instead as "programmed data processors".

This was because - so the story goes - that everyone in corporations of the
time simply *knew* that "computers" came only from IBM, lived in big
datacentres, had million-dollar price-tags, and required extensive project
management to purchase; whereas nobody cared enough about a thing called a
"programmed data processor" to bother bikeshedding the
few-tens-or-hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars purchase proposal to an
inevitable death. Thus, they flitted under the purchasing radar, and sold
like hotcakes.

I wonder: does this story have substance, please?

Aside from anything else: I draw parallels to the adoption of Linux by Wall
St, and the subsequent adoption of virtualisation / AWS by business - now
reflected in companies explaining to ISO27001 auditors that "well, we don't
actually possess any physical servers..."

    - alec

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