CLOSE

Plus: The Macintosh Plus

From Google+ monday to plus-size models yesterday, we move to the Macintosh Plus computer, which came out in 1986. This one is particularly close to me because it was one of the first computers I ever used. I know, I know, showing my age here, but that's what my computer lab at school had - and in those days, it was something special! With 1MB internal RAM standard, it was a big jump over the previous Mac, which only came with 512K.

I don't know how much my University paid—they probably got a whole pantload of them at a discount—but the average person had to shell out about $2,500 for the first Mac ever to include an SCSI port, which opened up a whole new world of peripherals. It was also the first Apple to use the double-sided 3.5 floppy disc, which doubled the external memory from 400KB to 800KB.

It was also the last of its kind in many respects. How so? Well, it was the last Mac to use that twisty phone cord to plug in the keyboard. It was also the last Apple to use the VGA-esque D9 connector cable for the mouse. All Macs that came after it used the newer 4-pin Apple desktop bus connector.

Even though the Mac SEs came out the following year, the Plus stayed in production as the cheaper alternative to the news computers for 4 years, which is pretty long in digital life-cycles. Also here's something you probably didn't know: According to WIKI, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint were actually developed and released first for the Macintosh, and similarly Microsoft Word 1 for Macintosh was the first time a GUI version of that software was introduced on any personal computer platform. In fact, it seems that the exclusive availability of Excel and PageMaker on the Macintosh were noticeable drivers of sales for the platform. Hard to believe, right?

For me, personally, spending long nights in the computer lab, the Macintosh Plus was a love affair right from the start. I remember writing some of my first fiction on it, as well as my first songs and using MacPaint to doodle up artwork for the covers of tape demos I was producing. How about you all? Any fond memories of the Plus or any of the early Macs? Leave your comments below and start the discussion!

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
Arctic Temperatures are Rising So Fast, They're Confusing the Hell Out of Computers
iStock
iStock

This past year was a brutal one for northern Alaska, which saw temperatures that soared above what was normal month after month. But you wouldn't know that by looking at the numbers from the weather station at Utqiaġvik, Alaska. That's because the recent heat was so unusual for the area that computers marked the data as incorrect and failed to report it for the entirety of 2017, leaving a hole in the records of the Climate Monitoring group at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), according to the Huffington Post.

The weather station in the northernmost tip of Alaska has been measuring temperatures for nearly a century. A computer system there is programed to recognize if the data has been influenced by artificial forces: Perhaps one of the instruments isn't working correctly, or something is making the immediate area unnaturally hot or cold. In these cases, the computer edits out the anomalies so they don't affect the rest of the data.

But climate change has complicated this failsafe. Temperatures have been so abnormally high that the Utqiaġvik station erroneously removed all its data for 2017 and part of 2016. A look at the region's weather history explains why the computers might have sensed a mistake: The average yearly temperature for the era between 2000 and 2017 has gone up by 1.9°F from that of the era between 1979 and 1999. Break it down by month and the numbers are even more alarming: The average temperature increase is 7.8°F for October, 6.9°F for November, and 4.7°F for December.

"In the context of a changing climate, the Arctic is changing more rapidly than the rest of the planet," Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch, wrote for climate.gov. The higher temperatures rise, the faster Arctic sea ice melts. Arctic sea ice acts as a mirror that reflects the Sun's rays back into space, and without that barrier, the sea absorbs more heat from the Sun and speeds up the warming process. “Utqiaġvik, as one of a precious few fairly long-term observing sites in the American Arctic, is often referenced as an embodiment of rapid Arctic change,” Arndt wrote.

As temperatures continue to grow faster than computers are used to, scientists will have to adjust their algorithms in response. The team at NCEI plans to have the Utqiaġvik station ready to record our changing climate once again within the next few months.

[h/t Huffington Post]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What Could the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for Internet Users?
iStock
iStock

What could the repeal of net neutrality mean for the average American internet user?

Zouhair Belkoura:

The imminent repeal of net neutrality could have implications for Americans beyond the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to consumers, and hindered access to content for all. Net neutrality’s repeal is a threat to the Internet’s democracy—the greatest information equalizer of our time.

With net neutrality’s repeal, ISPs could be selective about the content and pricing packages they make available. Portugal is a good example of what a country looks like without net neutrality

What people may not realize is that a repeal of net neutrality would also give ISPs the ability to throttle people’s Internet traffic. Customers won’t likely have visibility into what traffic is being throttled, and it could substantially slow down people’s Internet connections.

What happens when this type of friction is introduced to the system? The Internet—the greatest collective trove of information in the world—could gradually be starved. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites. People may also lose the ability to make choices about the content they want to see and the knowledge they seek.

Inflated pricing, less access to knowledge, and slower connections aren’t the only impact a net neutrality repeal might have. People’s personal privacy and corporations’ security may suffer, too. Many people use virtual private networks to protect their privacy. VPNs keep people’s Internet browsing activities invisible to their ISPs and others who may track them. They also help them obscure their location and encrypt online transactions to keep personal data secure. When people have the privacy that VPNs afford, they can access information freely without worrying about being watched, judged, or having their browsing activity bought and sold by third-party advertisers.

Virtual private networks are also a vital tool for businesses that want to keep their company data private and secure. Employees are often required by their employers to connect to a VPN whenever they are offsite and working remotely.

Even the best VPNs can slow down individuals' Internet connections, because they create an encrypted tunnel to protect and secure personal data. If people want to protect their personal privacy or company’s security with a VPN [they] also must contend with ISP throttling; it’s conceivable that net neutrality’s repeal could undermine people’s freedom to protect their online safety. It could also render the protection a VPN offers to individuals and companies obsolete.

Speed has always been a defining characteristic of the Internet’s accessibility and its power. Net neutrality’s repeal promises to subvert this trait. It would compromise both people's and companies’ ability to secure their personal data and keep their browsing and purchasing activities private. When people don’t have privacy, they can’t feel safe. When they don’t feel safe, they can’t live freely. That’s not a world anyone, let alone Americans, want to live in.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios