Another way is posible– Yugoslavian computer revolution

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At some point in time, future looked much more exciting. In the 80's young technologists revolutionized Yugoslavian computing. New wave of computer freedom.

Is that vision lost? 

Somehow when we don't appreciate what we have, someone can just come and take it (slowly).  Now we are stacked with technology gatekeepers, giant monopolies, exploited by spyware and advertisers. We are being seduced by fake idols of Silicon Valley. Mislead by corporate media. Free hardware and software have fall behind and struggling to catch up. Small adoption and investments makes it harder to use, update and innovate. Rising awareness of user abuse makes us think more about it and look for a free alternatives.     

About the magic of "Open" 

Open model for hardware and software can benefit many and spark creativity and innovation. We even have to fight today to be able to repair our devices. Computers, phones, printers can be sabotaged behind the wall (closed source) with planned obsolescence. (Hello Apple, we noticed). In closed source, it's much more difficult to detect unethical, malicious actions.  Open model makes possible for an independent researchers to see what's happening in source code of application, computer hardware drivers etc. Ethical hackers, penetration testers can build reputation by finding weaknesses or backdoors. It gives incentives to companies and institutions to invest in Open Software and Hardware to be able to protect their data.  

Back to history lesson:

Great story from Cory Doctrow about Galaksija PCs from Yugoslavia

In 1948, Yugoslavia was expelled from Cominform, the Soviet information agency, in retaliation for its "non-aligned" status; deprived of information-processing capacity, the country created its own IT industry from scratch. 

Cory Doctorow link to thread source : Tweet thread

Yugoslavia's high tariffs and uneasy status on the world stage meant that by the 1970s, members of the New Wave" - science and tech enthusiasts who clustered around the sf/electronic mag Galaksija - could only play with PCs by pooling their money to import western machines.
In the 1980s, "digital electronics enthusiast" Voja Antonić went on a Montenegro holiday with a copy of RCA's manual for a new single-chip CPU and had an inspiration for a kit-based PC that revolutionized Yugoslavian computing: the Galaksija computer!

 

Voja Antonić and his colleague Jova Regasek (left) putting together the Galaksija prototype in 1983.


"The Galaksija computer was a craze in 1980s socialist Yugoslavia, inspiring thousands of people to build versions in their own homes. The idea behind them was simple — to make technology available to everyone."

Read more: Jacobin Magazine article

Antonić's insight: you could run 64x48 block graphics on the ubiquitous Zilog Z80A chip, without a video controller. He produced a simple schematic that hobbyists could follow, and it was a hit with Yugoslavian subcultures: coders, gamers, DJs, musicians, sf fans.

The resulting computing revolution was grounded in (in the words of @Jacobin's  @michaeleby2020) "collectivity, autodidacticism, and technophilia." An early article about the design by Dejan Ristanović for Galaksija led to an all-computing issue of the mag.

The normal 30,000 copy run of the mag sold out quickly and that issue was reprinted FOUR TIMES before national demand was satisfied: 120,000 copies sold, and 8,000 subsequent letters from hobbyists who'd built their own computers following the diagrams it contained.

Antonić found a name for his computer: the Galaksija. The limits of its 4K of memory forced many idiosyncratic design choices, like its error message:

  • WHAT? (syntax error)
  • HOW? (input error)
  • SORRY (out of memory)

Every Galaksija looked different - hand-built by hobbyists who each had to improvise their own cases, with fantastic designs inspired by the New Wave's love of science fiction.

Antonić designed his system to be collaborative and open, rather than proprietary, sabotaging any attempt at DRM for code: "Free play was implicitly encouraged: the sharing, collaboration, manipulation, and proliferation of software was built into Galaksija’s very operation."

These programs spread widely thanks in part to a radio show that broadcast the computer code as audio, intended to be recorded to cassette (the main storage mechanism for the system). Zoran Modli's Ventilator 202 program broadcast hundreds of listener-supplied programs.

The listeners' programs were early multimedia magazines: audio, video, concert listings, ed-tech, flight sims and other games. Other listeners would record, run, and improve these and send them back to Ventilator 202 for retransmission. 
There was a brief time where Galaksija computers were mass produced and proliferated through Yugoslavian schools and universities but were eclipsed by cheaper imports and the death of the New Wave scene during the civil wars.

 

Hope, again, let's not miss the oportunity

Today Open Software is winning. Generation of new developers enjoy taste of freedom.  We still miss lot of components, like features and great user experience for general public that can move investment in to Free Hardware and Software #FOSH #FOSS 

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Lot of communities are excited to develop new Linux Phone OS. They are not close to meet ordinary phone–user's expectations, but they are having very vibrant process that was enabled by #FOSH producer Pine64.  

Source: Pine64/PinePhone

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