[TUHS] Why did PDPs become so popular?

Kevin Bowling kevin.bowling at kev009.com
Thu Dec 28 10:45:03 AEST 2017

On Wed, Dec 27, 2017 at 5:07 PM, Paul Winalski <paul.winalski at gmail.com> wrote:
> Not really, in my experience and from my perspective both as a DEC
> customer and as a DEC development engineer.  DEC's original customer
> base were experienced research engineers and scientists who knew what
> they wanted and didn't have to be sold to.

That is the very definition of good market development and sales, and
it is quite hard and never accidental.  The marketing might not look
like any marketing ever done before i.e. you don't take out TV spots
to sell minicomputers, but showing research engineers your machine and
your instruction set any chance you create might do it.  Typically
founders (or some equivalent like a GM or fellow in a technology
company) are intimately involved, because they can hold the entire
calculus in their working set, at least for a while.  As a company
grows and goes on, it becomes harder to fight people that thrive on
the illusion of work and hubris instead of what the actual market is
or what customers need that nobody else is giving them.

> Someone (Scott McNealy?) once said to survive a computer company has
> to be prepared to eat its own children.  That is, to accept the
> faster, lower cost technology as it comes along and not to try to
> protect high profit margins on the older technology.  Minicomputers
> ate the floor out from under mainframes, and IBM lost market dominance
> by attempting to protect the mainframe cost structure.  PCs did the
> same thing to minicomputers in the early 1990s, and DEC repeated IBM's
> mistake by trying to defend against PCs instead of embracing them.

That's a common view but I don't see it as black and white as a
downward race.  I see it more as entrepreneurs vying to reshuffle the
deck, most customers (executives?, corporate governance?) don't really
care that much about the specific technology they use but don't want
to be seen as too conservative nor reckless.  But there is opportunity
to make a lot of money as a startup or technology company when you get
technology to switch up drastically.  If you can convince people to go
back to timesharing on semi-proprietary equipment there is a lot of
money to be made.. Amazon has done this marvelously and will have a
nice 10+ year run yet doing that.  Most developers enthusiastically
using AWS don't think they were marketed or sold to either.  Great
market development and sales.

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