An Algorithmic and Social Introduction to Computer Science (CSC-105 2000S)

Do you think computer use would have become so widespread if OS or GUIs hadn't been created? Is there anything wrong with GUIs or what Windows has created? Must computing have a Unix-like command line to be pure?


Operating systems pretty much opened a gateway for almost any person with the slightest knowledge of computers. Prior to OS, computers were exclusive to the programmers. The programmer was the only person that had the knowledge and ability to work with his/her program. With the mass implementation of OS, programmers now had a foundations to which they could work with since they could now call upon the services provided by the OS. Plainly and simply, computers could not have become so widespread without operating systems. I had mentioned on Tuesday that one of the functions of an operating system is user interface, which is what the user is presented with. User-friendly interface allowed for computer to become widespread. People with little computer experience could shortly become accustomed to a computer thanks to the easier to understand and use interface.

I guess when I think of a computer without an operating system, I think of the first generation of computers(pre 1950's). These computer generated a great deal of heat because they ran on vacuum tubes and were the size of a really big room (surprisingly enough, a modern day PC can do about 10 times as much as a that really big computer). In any case, these computer had their data inputted by plugboards. (Remember Sam's example of an early 20th century telephone call- an operator manually connected a call to another location with a switchboard). The same applied for these computer, but with plugboards. These computers were complicated and only a select group could work with them. Also, people could not just pick up on other people's work.

The second generation of computers (1955-65) did show hints of an operating system. First of all, there was now a division of labor. Programmers were now not the only people to interact with the computers. Certain people had their designated task to perform. Among other things, these new computer used transistors instead of vacuum tubes and implemented batch systems. A batch system is a series of procedures. Although the computer carried out most of these procedures, a computer operator had to manually input some things.


I think OSes and GUIs were pretty crucial to the rise of computer use. They make it easier for the non-programmer/hacker to use computers without having to mess with the "nuts and bolts." I'm sure there's disagreement about whether that's a good thing or not--whether these things just make it easier for people not to learn about what their computer is doing. If there is something wrong with OS/GUI I think that some people would say that that's it. Also, the whole issue of obsolescence and "cruft" (I think that was the word, but I don't have the article in front of me) creates an interesting problem for those trying to create, improve, and market these things.


Do you think computer use would have become so widespread if OS or GUI hadn't been created? No.

Is there anything wrong with GUI or what Windows has created? Honestly? Not as far as I'm concerned.

Must computing be Unix of command line to be pure? Again, since I feel like approaching this question absolutely selfishly tonight, no, it doesn't really matter to me. Though I have a clearer understanding of what OS is after Alfonso's presentation and the reading tonight, I still can't say that I understand it well enough for me to really take a stance on this question. Additionally, since, as far as I can tell, it doesn't particularly affect me as a mere user (rather than programmer or hacker), I don't mind either way.


1. No, probably not. Operating systems, as I have said before, seem to allow more focus on applications, saving most of us from programming a personalized operating system.

2. Yes. all programs have flaws. We have learned in this class that flaws are unavoidable, and nothing can be certain to work as required in every situation without fail. We must accept this, and move on, either just dealing with it, or to creating better alternatives. Windows seems nicer to me than what was before it, but I am sure nicer things can be developed. For instance, a Windows that stops presupposing so much what everyone will want to do, and forcing me to "turn off" features that are automatically imposed would be an adorable change. How boring is that? "To change what is written is boring. To find the right other is exciting." -Richard Hugo

3. No. Computers have nothing to do with purity. Purity is doing what you really want. I don't really want to program my own OS. I don't really understand what this question is trying to ask, but I am confident that computers are abstractly antipure because they do what they are told, at least, that is all they try.


The author points out that OSes are not strictly necessary, stating that there is no reason why "a sufficiently dedicated coder could not start from nothing with every project and write fresh code to handle...basic, low-level operations..." (34). But obviously, most people don't know the first thing about coding, much less are they "dedicated coders." So, in this way, while OSes may not be necessary, I think that they have definitely made computer use more accessible to the broader public.

I don't think there is anything wrong with what Windows has created. Essentially, it meets the needs of a vast number of consumers and their computing needs by offering easily accessible, pre-packaged applications, and technical support to boot. The theory of open-source software such as Linux is attractive, certainly, but the fact is that it takes much more effort and know-how to take advantage of this kind of software than it does to pop into your local Best Buy or call up Gateway and purchase a computer that comes with everything already installed on it. It all seems to come down to what your personal computing needs are, and I think that for alot of people, Windows generally meets those needs.


Do you think computer use would have become so widespread if OS or GUI hadn't been created? and Is there anything wrong with GUI or what Wondows has created? Must computing be Unix of command line to be pure?

Computers are generally used because computers increase the marginal product of labor or make each input of labor (labor hour) more productive. If an OS makes a computer more productive, then the OS will be used on the same rational (MPL) that a computer is used. In general, OS increase the efficiency of computers by allowing users to quickly launch applications, run multiple applications, and have a starting point. Furthermore, OS, in many circumstances, do not depend on the user having a great deal of knowledge about computers.

Computers would have become widespread if OS did not exist however the development of OS in response to user needs encouraged the development of computers. Computers and OS have a complimentary relationship (any increase in effectiveness of either the computer or OS increases the demand for the other).


My humble opinion is that computer use would not have become so widespread without the creation and use of operating systems, especially user interfaces such as Windows. I think computing is more "pure" if it is run off the original operating system, but I do not think that there is anything wrong with Windows or anything like it. Although it does have its downfalls, it seems to make computers much more user-friendly and I think that is a huge factor in making computers accessible and more wide-spread.

I thought it was interesting when the author said that "operating systems are not strictly necessary." I didn't quite agree with this statement, but that's probably because I am not an expert on the subject. Maybe we could go over this briefly in class.




If I'm getting this question right, I guess the point of inquiry is whether or not computer use would be so widespread if users had to install an operating program themselves. I would have to say no no. One of the most appealing aspects of computers is their convenience and easy learning curve. If people had to do more than simply flip an "on" switch, they may be deterred from investing in one. But then again, a lack of OS's could have produced a generation of more capable users.

I don't see anything wrong with what Microsoft has created, especially since the article points out that other OS's are an option. There is an inherent monopolistic notion that MS carries with it, but this is due to uninformed users. I all really can have is respect for the ingenuity with which MS has been marketed, and in truth they have done a pretty good job of forwarding the software industry.

I'm not really sure about this last part of the question... uh, no?

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