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If you look at how far a regular user could get in the 90s with Applescript, Hypercard, and the Classic Mac OS, today's systems are quite underwhelming by comparison.

I have no doubt that all the Unix based systems of today are more stable and faster than the older (and more diverse) crop of personal computing operating systems, but these systems lack the kind of true computing power that older systems provided to regular users.

Smalltalk systems are another kind of vision for what a personal computing operating system could be like: no "applications" or "files," just a sea of computing structures called objects and levels of metaphor and abstraction that give regular users powerful ways to interact with them.

Today if users want to go just a step beyond what their shrnkwrapped programs can do -- and trust me, that happens all the time -- they have two options: either buy some plugin or other program that hopefully does the job, or learn a full-fledged general programming language from the ground up and then apply it to the problem. That's pretty sad -- doubly sad, considering the core metaphor of most operating systems today is a teletype!




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