Monthly Archives: April 2010

Microsoft vs. Standards

Here is a fun game for long car rides: One person names a respected standard implemented by dozens of IT companies, and the other person names Microsoft’s competing technology. Example: MPEG Audio (MP3/AAC) – Windows Media Audio.

(When you have run out of examples, you can try this game with other major players in the IT business.)

Let’s play this game in the comments to this blog entry: Just add as many of these pairs that you can think of – extra points if Microsoft’s technology has a closed specification.

Who invented the computer?

  • In 1837, Charles Babbage designed a general purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, but never built it.
  • Between 1934 and 1937, Church, Turing et al. defined the general purpose computer, but didn’t design one.
  • In 1941, Konrad Zuse built the first general purpose computer, the Z3, but didn’t know it was general purpose and didn’t use it that way.
  • From 1943 to 1946, Mauchly and Eckert finally built a computer, ENIAC, that was designed to be general-purpose.

Standards and Intellectual Property

I am sitting here, working with my PC: My keyboard and my mouse are connected wirelessly via Bluetooth and my monitor is hooked up through DVI. The graphics card is sitting in a PCI slot, main memory is DDR-SDRAM, and my optical drive can do CDs and DVDs. While my internal hard disk speaks the SATA protocol, my home directory is actually sitting on an SD card that is connected through a USB reader. My internet connection is done through DSL. On the software side, I am using GNU/Linux and browsing the internet with Firefox. No way I would ever watch a video in H.264 format.