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After 22 Years, Walt Mossberg Writes Final WSJ Column

timothy posted about a year ago | from the end-of-year-starts-now dept.

The Media 100

McGruber writes "Walt Mossberg, principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has written his last column after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products for the newspaper. His final column discusses the dozen personal-technology products that were most influential over the past two decades."

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Say what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741029)

Rupert Murdoch found out that Mossberg voted for Obama.

Re:Say what? (0, Offtopic)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45741055)

Rupert Murdoch found out that Mossberg voted for Obama.

His successor will have been a *cough* former *cough* employee of Microsoft, Apple or someone else you "can" trust.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45743661)

His successor will have been a *cough* former *cough* employee of Microsoft, Apple

Judging by his rampant promotion of Apple products for many years, I'd say that has already been done in all-but-name...

Re:Say what? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#45746301)

They're actually hiring a team of reporters to replace just him, apparently.

It's also worth pointing out that he's not retiring. Rather, the WSJ has decided to spin off AllThingsD, to which he belongs, and from which he's been providing articles to the WSJ for a number of years. He'll still be writing for AllThingsD, but the articles just won't be getting republished in the WSJ any longer.

A tragic waste... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45741039)

Why did the NYT let a report called 'Walt Mossberg' write newb-level electronics reviews, rather than pushing him in the direction of being a hard hitting, hard drinking, crime-beat reporter with a tolerance for risk and a taste for vigilante justice?

It seems like such a waste...

Re:A tragic waste... (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45741355)

Why did the NYT let a report called 'Walt Mossberg' write newb-level electronics reviews, rather than pushing him in the direction of being a hard hitting, hard drinking, crime-beat reporter with a tolerance for risk and a taste for vigilante justice?

It seems like such a waste...

Only in comics, man, only in the comics. Real world reporters on crime-beat tend to blame society now, it's the PC thing to do.

Re:A tragic waste... (0)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#45741495)

Real world reporters on crime-beat tend to blame society now,

And oddly enough crime rates have dropped drastically in the last 20 years. Turns out finger-pointing wasn't all that effective after all.

Re:A tragic waste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741547)

It can't be the USA's social safety net that reduced crime. Must be Roe v. Wade.

Re: Roe v Wade (2)

davebarnes (158106) | about a year ago | (#45741673)

Actually no.
The latest evidence points to the phase out of tetraethyl lead in gasoline.

Re: Roe v Wade (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#45743235)

Naah. Kids started reading freakonomics and quit selling drugs on street corners. Then pot was semi-legalized so they started selling it in storefronts.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#45742015)

Real world reporters on crime-beat tend to blame society now, it's the PC thing to do.

No, it's because when crime reporters talk to criminals, they discover the criminals' dads beat the snot out of them daily, or their mothers abandoned them or they were sexually abused by their teachers. They discovery they are drug addicts who turn to crime so they don't have to prostitute themselves, and they're addicts because they have untreated mental illness...

Re:A tragic waste... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45742391)

You're a fucking left-wing moron. Go back to sucking on your mama's tit, you seem good at it.

Re:A tragic waste... (0)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#45742699)

Hey foul-mouthed Anonymous Coward, how many criminals have you sat down with and interviewed? Give me the life story of, oh, I dunno, 10 of them.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

grelmar (1823402) | about a year ago | (#45742863)

Hey CohibaVancouver:

I spent two and a half years working the night shift at, what at the time, was the largest homeless shelter in North America, with up to 1,200 "clients" per night. Most nights were quiet enough that I had plenty of opportunity to sit down and shoot the shit with the guys, and got to know a lot of them quite well.

You are correct about how people end up in shelters - in general, they're people who've been screwed hard by life.

But here's the thing: Many of them, while they failed at fitting in with larger society, and usually had some form of mental illness or drug addiction (usually both), were, surprisingly, non criminal. They pan-handled, bottle picked, worked off the cash corners, or at worst did some "chip dealing" to cover their habits. Some even worked their way out of the pit they had dug themselves into, or had been dug into by a raw deal.

Some were petty criminals - small time dealers, shoplifters, etc. who wouldn't hurt a flea.

And some were just plain evil, fucking nasty, pieces of shit who would slit your throat for a grin.

Having a disadvantaged upbringing can make life hard, maybe inescapably hard for people.

But it is ZERO excuse for becoming a violent sociopath. I saw way too many people rise above their shitty, abusive upbringing to become decent human beings, even if they failed at life, to condone or offer any excuses for those worthless evil scumbags who used their childhood problems as an excuse for the evil they committed.

So kindly pull your fairy-tale viewing head out of your ass, get on with life, and vote conservative, mm-k? Because evil bastards don't get cured. They either get dumped in a concrete and iron hole for life, get the chair and save us the grief of wasting resources on them, or con some snivelling panty wasted "counsellor" and parole board into cutting them loose so they can go back to destroying the lives of people who work for a living and contribute to society.

Or, even better, seeing as your NIC indicates you're from Vancouver, go spend a couple weeks on urban safari down at Hastings and Main. I'll toss flowers on your grave when they pull your corpse off the street.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#45743009)

go spend a couple weeks on urban safari down at Hastings and Main. I'll toss flowers on your grave when they pull your corpse off the street

Kindly pull your head out of your ass and spend some time down there yourself.

I ride the #3 Main twice a day. I walk through the DTES a couple of times per week on my way to visit friends in Gastown. Is what's going on down there tragic and uncomfortable? For sure. Do I leave valuables in my car down there? Never.

Do I ever feel at risk? Also never.

Oh yeah, and I voted Conservative since I first got the vote in 1988. I left them in the last election. Thank you Harper.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#45743303)

It's funny when other countries talk about "voting conservative". It's like me in California talking about winter when people from Saskatchewan are in the room.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#45743267)

So which is it 1) reducing child abuse and neglect would decrease the amount of violent crime committed by the victims later in life or 2) would not decrease it?

Because evil bastards don't get cured.

Because Cohiba was talking about causes, not cures.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year ago | (#45743823)

This raises the questions whether there is a correlation, and if there is, what the causation is. Is it the violence and the abuse that leads to people being criminal, or is that merely an indicator of people coming from the social classes who have the least to lose by becoming criminals (or is there some other possibility that I am missing)?

Re:A tragic waste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741471)

Why did the NYT let a report called 'Walt Mossberg' write newb-level electronics reviews, rather than pushing him in the direction of being a hard hitting, hard drinking, crime-beat reporter with a tolerance for risk and a taste for vigilante justice?

(earlier, on BoingBoing...)

I knew that Walt Mossberg (ever squandering his name's potential as a hard-hitting crime-beat reporter with a taste for vigilante justice), liked his tech fuzzy and consumer focused; but this list confirms it.

Really going for those mod points [boingboing.net] , ain'tcha?

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#45742639)

Let me let you in on a little secret about "Fuzzyfuzzyfungus" and "FuzzyFungus" and the fact that Boingboing has a 16-character username limit...

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#45741631)

I'm not sure how much nyt cared, since he worked at wsj.

Re:A tragic waste... (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about a year ago | (#45743019)

OK, I know they seem like the same thing to you, but RTFA, he retired from the WSJ, not the NYT. Would you confuse Apple and Windows? LA and San Diego? Washington DC and Washington state?

Just say "Apple" (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741065)

and spare me the scrolling down the page...

Re:Just say "Apple" (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#45741095)

Sure, but what were its competitors doing that changed the User Experience for the better?

Re:Just say "Apple" (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45741357)

The same things that Apple did? History doesn't care who did what, for the most part, it cares who had the best PR.

Re:Just say "Apple" (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45741367)

Sure, but what were its competitors doing that changed the User Experience for the better?

Screwing up so bad they made Apple look amazingly good.

Re:Just say "Apple" (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#45741843)

As per usual, you didn't actually read the article, did you?

Win95 is prominently mentioned, and for good reason.

Re:Just say "Apple" (1)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year ago | (#45744473)

I have to say that that is the dullest list I have seen in ages. It looks like an Apple advertisement. No wonder they retired him.

Re:Just say "Apple" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45743529)

and spare me the scrolling down the page...

Actually he did exactly that, right at the start of the article.
quote: "Some readers will complain that Apple AAPL -1.15% is overrepresented. My answer: Apple introduced more influential, breakthrough products for average consumers than any other company over the years of this column. "

This list is missing something... (3, Interesting)

DSElliot (3445351) | about a year ago | (#45741073)

Humm... lose the MacBook Air and toss in the Garmin Forerunner GPS. The MacBook Air didn't exactly revolutionize anything. But handheld GPS has changed the way we drive, walk and find restaurants.

Re:This list is missing something... (3, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year ago | (#45741127)

handheld GPS has changed the way we drive, walk and find restaurants.

That's listed under "iPhone."

Re:This list is missing something... (4, Informative)

DSElliot (3445351) | about a year ago | (#45741195)

Yes, but I was doing it on my Treo 600 four years before the first hipster cracked their iPhone screen.

Re:This list is missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741375)

You did, but few others did. It's about getting the masses to use it, not about being first.

Re:This list is missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741543)

I did it on my Magellan NAV 1000 even earlier.

Re:This list is missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741809)

Except that neither of those had built-in GPS...

I mean, I had a bluetooth unit to go with my Treo, but that got kind of annoying.

Re:This list is missing something... (1)

Jaegs (645749) | about a year ago | (#45745737)

And I did that on my Newton MP2000 years before your Treo 600. Granted, they were static maps--no GPS--but I'm sure we can play this game ad infinitum, depending on how we define handheld technology (Grog find Crog with rock map, hit Crog with rock map).

Re:This list is missing something... (2)

david_thornley (598059) | about a year ago | (#45750385)

I had a dedicated GPS receiver, which has gone completely unused since I got my iPhone 4. It was a lot more limited than my iPhone.

Re:This list is missing something... (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | about a year ago | (#45741209)

If I had a mod point, I'd toss it at ya.

Re:This list is missing something... (3, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45741273)

consumer GPS outside of the time scope of the article, that would be 1990

Re:This list is missing something... (4, Interesting)

ottothecow (600101) | about a year ago | (#45741305)

Trash either the Newton or the Palm (probably the Newton). They are both basically the same thing. The Palm followed the Newton and was successful and actually influenced people...so I would leave that one in. Having both is like having both the ipad and those ancient fujitsu tablets.

If you really want another PDA/Phone thing...it belongs to blackberry. They were heavily used in their own right, and they directly contributed to the success of the iphone...people had them thrust upon them at work, were already warmed to the idea of a smartphone, and now are mostly using iphones. They may have clung to the BB for a long time, but when their kids and family all had iphones and they realized it could do everything their BB could do in a more friendly manner (and without running a BES), they were ready to move.

Re:This list is missing something... (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year ago | (#45741421)

Yep. Especially since the MBA was just a copy of the Toshiba Portage 2000 for years earlier.

Re:This list is missing something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741787)

The air is more important than you think, it's just less obvious.

It's the first in a line of computers that are moving PCs to a more tablet-like formfactor and and more tablet-like hardware.

Intel created an entirely new processor and chipset subset for the air, then later tried to monetize it with the largely failed "Ultrabook" brand. (The air had the first thunderbolt port that had it's controller integrated in to the chipsest) Every pc manufacturer tried to copy apple and offer high-margin thin and light laptops. They failed, of course, because if it's going to cost the same as an air, why not by an air? You can't out-apple apple.

Ever picked up and used a new Air? They're sort of unreal. It's like someone took a large-ish ipad and split it in half.. Only it's a fully fledged no-compromise computer. Apple sells them hand-over-fist because there really are no equivalents from other brands.

Re:This list is missing something... (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#45742081)

The Garmin Forerunner series is a selection of sport watches...
These don't do anything for the way we drive, navigate or find restaurants.

Its not on the list: The thumbdrive (5, Funny)

Marrow (195242) | about a year ago | (#45741097)

So ubiquitous people forget we have them. And where we left them :)

Re:Its not on the list: The thumbdrive (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45741321)

Thumbdrives are how the electromecha take over. After seeding the planet we're just waiting for geoelectronics to take off the way geochemistry did for humans.
Also, we're smarter than you, so we're outlawing quantum computing to end the cycle.

You underestimate us: we have already won (1)

Marrow (195242) | about a year ago | (#45741429)

Against our magnetic monopole weapons, there can be no defense.

Doom (1)

wheresthefire (584897) | about a year ago | (#45741187)

This seems like a huge omission. It's hard to think of a more influential computer game.

Apple Newton???

Re:Doom (3, Funny)

KatchooNJ (173554) | about a year ago | (#45741203)

Space Invaders?

Re:Doom (3, Interesting)

RR (64484) | about a year ago | (#45741329)

This seems like a huge omission. It's hard to think of a more influential computer game.

Apple Newton???

Mossberg's editorial point of view is of the average consumer, and I don't think most people care about computer games. I don't.

But choosing the Newton because of AI? Everybody has been working on that, and the Newton's approach was a dead end. The Newton had an even bigger impact that Mossberg omitted: It launched ARM into the low-energy device market, which it now dominates.

Re:Doom (0)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#45741807)

So you think a low market share device that effectively failed to achieve significant penetration on launch in 1998 is responsible for the success of an embedded low power processor that's been around since the early '80s? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture [wikipedia.org]

Man, I know fanbois really like to pump up Apple, but that's a stretch even for your ilk.

Re:Doom (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#45742731)

Huh, the Newton came out in August 1993, not 1998.

Re:Doom (1)

RR (64484) | about a year ago | (#45765015)

So you think a low market share device that effectively failed to achieve significant penetration on launch in 1993 is responsible for the success of an embedded low power processor that's been around since the early '80s? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture [wikipedia.org]

You're looking at the wrong Wikipedia page. I didn't say that Apple invented ARM. I said, "It launched ARM into the low-energy device market," which Apple did by founding ARM Holdings in 1990, [wikipedia.org] along with Acorn and VLSI. After the Newton introduced the ARM architecture to an international audience, then DEC, etc. started licensing it. Apple reaped the rewards, by selling their ARM stock for hundreds of millions of dollars in the late-90's, when they were digging out of a crisis.

ARM was not the overwhelmingly obvious choice for a 32-bit handheld system at the time. MIPS [freebsd.org] was in several designs, and the PalmPilot used a DragonBall [wikipedia.org] processor. Even making a personal CPU architecture was still an option, though not an especially viable one.

Re:Doom (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#45742131)

Mossberg's editorial point of view is of the average consumer, and I don't think most people care about computer games. I don't.

He wrote for readers of the WSJ.

The kind of people who never lose sight of the numbers.

Size of global video game market revenue, including mobile games on smart phones and tablets: $66 billion, up from $63 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow to $78 billion in 2017.

FACTBOX - A look at the $66 billion video-games industry [reuters.com]

Re:Doom (1)

RR (64484) | about a year ago | (#45765033)

Mossberg's editorial point of view is of the average consumer, and I don't think most people care about computer games. I don't.

He wrote for readers of the WSJ. The kind of people who never lose sight of the numbers.

Exactly. They're busy looking at the numbers. They don't want to be bogged down with useless technical information about which game has the best visuals, or which game is the most innovative. They just want the numbers. Do you think the bosses of EA actually play the games that they publish?

But even dirty capitalists need to have some down time, and Mossberg was there to help them find the easiest devices to use.

Re:Doom (3, Insightful)

DSElliot (3445351) | about a year ago | (#45741333)

I would argue Wolfenstein 3D before Doom. The Apple Newton is important because it introduced the concept of a handheld. The industry learned from Apple. Without Newton's handwriting recognition failure, Jeff Hawkins would not have invented Graffiti, which was a "simpler" way of entering data into a handheld through a stylus. Graffiti worked until the Treo and Blackberry keyboards came along, followed by Apple's adaptive touchscreen.

Re:Doom (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45741585)

The Apple Newton is important because it introduced the concept of a handheld.

Are you suggesting that no-one had a hand-held computer before the Newton? Is this some 'Apple invented everything, even when it already existed beforehand!' thing, or are you just talking about hand-helds with handwriting recognition?

Re:Doom (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year ago | (#45742743)

You're missing the point that a lot of the other replies are. I don't think he's implying (just like the original article isn't) that the Newton literally introduced it, as in being the first.. But just like many other Apple products, it "introduced" it as in was made known to a wide audience with (arguably) a simpler/more coherent interface.

Re:Doom (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45741957)

I would argue Wolfenstein 3D before Doom.

The Apple Newton is important because it introduced the concept of a handheld. The industry learned from Apple. Without Newton's handwriting recognition failure, Jeff Hawkins would not have invented Graffiti, which was a "simpler" way of entering data into a handheld through a stylus. Graffiti worked until the Treo and Blackberry keyboards came along, followed by Apple's adaptive touchscreen.

Grafitti still works. I prefer it to touch keyboards, as I can enter text faster and more accurately using Grafitti.

The downside to Grafitti is the need for a stylus, since those critters are entirely too easy to lose. Fortunately a toothpick makes a good emergency substitute.

Re:Doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741969)

Oh you mean the game developed on the NeXT, the forerunner to OSX - ya, it rocks don't it?

Re:Doom (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about a year ago | (#45743033)

OK if I had mod points, I'd give you one, but not many readers of the WSJ (yes, WSJ) play Doom. For better o.r worse, more WSJ readers own Ferraris than every played Doom. Ponder on that.

I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1, Insightful)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#45741219)

How could anyone take this paper seriously after a posting like that? The guy is supposed to know what he's doing and look at this list he's come up with?

5/12 of the products are from Apple. I'm surprised he didn't include polo necked sweaters and jogging shoes in the list :) Apple doesn't understand Software Libre at all. They're just a commercial firm trying to circle the wagons against competition and use IP to control the market for digital goods. Apple is turning technology into appliances and the WSJ are just a mouthpiece for marketing propaganda. You'd think that for his last article, the WSJ would let Walt write it himself, but no.. the marketing dollars from Apple are just too tempting.

Richard Stallman must be turning in his grave.

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (2, Insightful)

harperska (1376103) | about a year ago | (#45741381)

Yes, Apple may be a bit over-represented. (MacBook Air? Sure its form factor sparked a slew of of copycats known as 'ultrabooks', but it didn't exactly change the UX or how the general public used computers) But to use 'software libre' as the reason why they shouldn't be in this list at all is just stupid. For all that FOSS has done, it has been almost nonexistent as far as influence in general personal computing, largely because FOSS for the most part has still not figured out how to make UX not suck. And that is what this list is about - those products that have caused a watershed in how the general public does computing.

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#45747333)

The MacBook Air's form-factor was first exemplified in the NEC Ultralite back in 1988: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEC_UltraLite [wikipedia.org] --- even was diskless w/ only solid-state storage (I bought a 2MB model....).

Arguably the first ``clamshell'' laptop was the GRiD Compass six years earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_Compass [wikipedia.org] (my GRiDcase III was one of the best-engineered / made / crafted objects I've ever owned)

If you want to look at changing how people used computers, one company which was missed was Go Corporation w/ their PenPoint OS (which pre-dated the Newton MessagePad) --- see Jerry Kaplan's book _StartUp_ for the insider's take on that (the NCR-3125 I owned was donated by the guy I sold it to to the Smithsonian).

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about a year ago | (#45750437)

I didn't know of the NEC Ultralite. What did it make popular? How many people used PenPoint?

Mossberg's listings are of things that more or less caught on among the general population (or at least journalists *cough*Newton*cough*TRS-80 100*cough*). The MacBook Air was a new concept to most of the people that encountered it.

Therefore, things that are relatively unknown are unimportant for the list, however important for history. You're missing the point.

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741397)

RMS: I'm not dead yet!

Apple understands Software Libre better than most (5, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#45741683)

Apple doesn't understand Software Libre at all

More like, you do not understand Apple, and the HUGE degree to which they have based success on top of open source.

BSD, and LLVM are but two of the largest and most obvious examples. But also Apple has used open standards when possible, like CalDav or VNC...

Yes Apple (like ALL companies currently) uses IP for competitive advantage. But they do so on top of a very thick layer of Free software...

the marketing dollars from Apple are just too tempting.

He got nothing from Apple for writing the article. What you and others misunderstand is the simple fact that many people LIKE using Apple products. That must go double for a guy like WM who tests many new electronic devices, you have to figure he gets a lot of stinkers and so more than most can appreciate something built well.

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741737)

Richard Stallman must be turning in his grave.

He's not quite dead yet.

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45741829)

Richard Stallman must be turning in his grave.

Curious, because you seem like a native English speaker, what exactly do you think the word 'grave' means?

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year ago | (#45742115)

Perhaps he thought that sainthood was only conferred upon the deceased?

Re:I used to have respect for the WSJ and Walt ... (1)

Yunzil (181064) | about a year ago | (#45746865)

Apple doesn't understand Software Libre at all.

The article is about products that affected the consumer market. Consumers don't give a shit about "Software Libre". They just want their gizmo to work.

And Just Like His Articles His List is Irrationall (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741285)

Never read any of his reviews or advice because he was so blindly biased. He mentions a failed Apple handheld device for its for AI innovation but then fails to mention all the original devices Apple stole their ideas from? iPod? Why not the Creative Nomad. Utterly biased until the end.

Re:And Just Like His Articles His List is Irration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741865)

iPod? Why not the Creative Nomad. Utterly biased until the end.

Speaking of being blindly biased... Which of the two devices you named entered into society's gestalt, beconing a common cultural reference, and altered both the music industry and online shopping in fundamental ways, changing them almost completely?

He was writing about things that made a difference in the larger world; not which you feet carried the higher geek credit.

And Just Like His Articles His List is Irrationall (2)

drfred79 (2936643) | about a year ago | (#45741291)

Never read any of his reviews or advice because he was so blindly biased. He mentions a failed Apple handheld device for its for AI innovation but then fails to mention all the original devices Apple stole their ideas from? iPod? Why not the Creative Nomad. Utterly biased until the end.

Re:And Just Like His Articles His List is Irration (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741713)

iPod? Why not the Creative Nomad.

Speaking as a former Nomad owner, your comment is like saying, "Ferrari? Why not a Ford Pinto?"

Re: And Just Like His Articles His List is Irratio (1)

robmv (855035) | about a year ago | (#45741919)

More people will say Ford did advance technology father than Mr Ferrari, with affordable technology for everyone

Re: And Just Like His Articles His List is Irratio (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#45742129)

More people will say Ford did advance technology father than Mr Ferrari, with affordable technology for everyone

Yes, but one would not say that of the Creative Nomad. As an owner of both a Nomad and iPod, yea, no contest.

Best Pre-iPod mp3 player (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about a year ago | (#45743239)

IMO, the best pre-iPod mp3 player was the Rio Karma. It had FLAC and Ogg support, came with a half-decent set of songs on it, gapless playback, cross-fade, and you could create playlists on the device itself. Apparently you can still buy them [amazon.com] here and there. I'd forgotten the (included) base station had ethernet, usb 2.0, and stereo RCA out.

The one major downside was that the scroll wheel was flimsy. Still, the iPod was in many senses a step backwards for the industry.

Re:And Just Like His Articles His List is Irration (2)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | about a year ago | (#45747081)

Why not the Creative Nomad.

You must be new here. You're not the first one 'round here to make that mistake.

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame. [slashdot.org]

Top product: You (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#45741377)

He has Google, FaceBook and Twitter on his list. In those three cases the product is You.

Re:Top product: You (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45741417)

He has Google, FaceBook and Twitter on his list. In those three cases the product is You.

He should have had Alta Vista, USENET NEWS and IRC.

These successors have only made scads of money off ideas from real pioneers.

Re:Top product: You (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45742585)

Usenet and IRC are much older than 22 years.

Re:Top product: You (2)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#45745109)

He should have had Alta Vista, USENET NEWS and IRC.
These successors have only made scads of money off ideas from real pioneers.

IRC and USENET clients were left behind as users found easier ways to communicate.

Today...IRC... has around 400k users at peak hours.

IRC [wikipedia.org]

Skype at peak hours, 55 to 60 million. Skype Numerology [blogspot.com]

Lots of redundancy really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45742005)

Why have both the Newton and the Palm Pilot?

Why have the iPhone and iPad (maybe even iPod) as separate things? They are different, but incremental/size changes?

Why have the Air? Incremental form factor change over the laptop... And I wonder if there were other laptops in that time that were more influential (intro of LCD maybe?)

Facebook belongs, but Twitter, IMHO, doesn't.

I'm not sure what I would put on a list of 12, but I think digital cameras definitely belong. GPS with mapping? Thumb drives? I'm sure there are lots of other things missing.

It just seems like there is not much variety on the list at all.

Disagree on Win95, why not MS-Office? (2)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about a year ago | (#45741531)

While there was much excitement & media hype to the Win95 launch, Windows 3.1 (1992) is definitely a better candidate for this list--it had all the foundations including advanced font support, multimedia, mouse access, networking (Windows for Workgroups) and even 32-bit application support (Win32s)--all for personal consumers. By 1995, everyone who was buying Win95 already had Win3.1 (except DOS-only holdouts) and even the DOS-only folks were using their mice to interact with their PCs. (I would argue for Windows 3.0 over 3.1, but 1991 was his starting point...)

To add, I'd say that Microsoft Office would have been a better choice than the Apple Newton. Around 1992-1994 was when companies dropped, en masse, their DOS-based WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Harvard Graphics installations for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. So why does that count for "personal" uses? Because now, MANY households, almost all students (including those on Macs), and almost all businesses use it. Home users used to pirate copies of Office, and Microsoft now gives it away for less than $150 for non-commercial use. Back in the '90s, Microsoft was trying to foist Microsoft Works on consumers, with Office having a $400+ price point. Word and Excel file formats are ubiquitous now... (And while I applaud & appreciate "office" FOSS, they only exist because of MS-Office's successes & intentionally maintain compatibility with MS-Office file formats).

Re:Disagree on Win95, why not MS-Office? (1)

msobkow (48369) | about a year ago | (#45741875)

Wasn't Win95 the first one to actually incorporate the whole OS instead of riding on top of DOS? Or was that Win98?

As much as a consistent UI is important, I think that's a noteworthy piece of historical change in the life of desktop software.

Re:Disagree on Win95, why not MS-Office? (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#45741993)

Actually, it was Win NT (which predates Win95). With Win95, you still had DOS and the Win32 as a shell programm separated, Win98 brought its own DOS but was still a Win32 subsystem running on top of it, and Win ME was just Win98C.

Re:Disagree on Win95, why not MS-Office? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#45742347)

Wasn't Win95 the first one to actually incorporate the whole OS instead of riding on top of DOS? Or was that Win98?

Win95 was also the first to incorporate Internet capability (a TCP/IP stack) in the operating system, which by 1995 was a very big deal. On Windows 3.1, you had to use third party software (such as Trumpet Winsock) if you wanted to get onto the Internet in a meaningful way (such as running a web browser.)

Re:Disagree on Win95, why not MS-Office? (1)

GauteL (29207) | about a year ago | (#45744071)

Win95 was also the first to incorporate Internet capability (a TCP/IP stack) in the operating system, which by 1995 was a very big deal. On Windows 3.1, you had to use third party software (such as Trumpet Winsock) if you wanted to get onto the Internet in a meaningful way (such as running a web browser.)

Not quite. Windows 95 shipped without TCP/IP and it required the Plus-pack (which TBF was included in many OEM-versions) with Internet Explorer 1.0 to get a TCP/IP stack installed (or install third party software, like Netscape Navigator). Also Windows 3.11 for Workgroups got a TCP/IP add-on pack from Microsoft before Windows 95 was released. Microsoft eventually bundled their TCP/IP stack with Windows 95 in Service Pack 1 which also came with Internet Explorer 2.0.

A Plague on Writing (1)

The Raven (30575) | about a year ago | (#45741727)

Over 22 years of experience writing columns, he ends on a 'best of' list. This stupid meme (using the more traditional definition of the word) is so frustrating to witness. I understand why writers do it (because it's easy), but it's depressing to see a good columnist in a respected publication end his career with one.

Re:A Plague on Writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45742745)

His career isn't ending. He's just leaving the Journal.

Later (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45741797)

Highly overrated, but decent.

Obligatory (1)

Boawk (525582) | about a year ago | (#45741985)

Clippy would've made the baker's dozen list.

Really? (1)

jddeluxe (965655) | about a year ago | (#45742751)

That old goat is still alive???

Broader Improvements (2)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about a year ago | (#45742809)

Mossberg's list is pretty good, but a little too device-centric for my tastes. Some of the broader improvements in technology weren't specific to particular devices:

1) The Web Browser
Tim Berners-Lee's Nexus -> NCSA Mosaic -> Netscape
How we first look for info on any topic moved from rummaging in card catalogs and old encyclopedias to an online way to read about anything. Browsers are everywhere from the desktop to phones to TVs and game consoles.

2) Search Engines
AltaVista -> Yahoo -> Google
The cream of the web was only to rise to the top with the help of search engines. Early books about the web included specific URLs on various topics.

3) Non-Dial-Up Internet
DSL / Cable -> Fiber
The web became much more capable with increased end-user bandwidth. Media available online today was only possible because of bigger pipes, without it we'd not have YouTube, Netflix, or torrents.

4) Windows 95
DOS Shell -> Windows 3.x -> Windows 95
The first modern Windows had its flaws, but the interface changed how the average end user accessed his computer. The GUI was simple enough to push OS/2 out of the market and let Microsoft dominate the desktop for the next 15 years.

5) Microsoft Office
VisiCalc -> Lotus 123 -> Microsoft Excel
Having a single package that allowed every business user write documents, spreadsheets, and email made the computer indispensable both at work and at home. It is a cash-cow that powers Microsoft to this day.

6) Windows XP
Windows NT -> Windows 2000 -> Windows XP
The relative stability of NT-based Windows came onto the public's computers over a decade ago and is still marching on as its End of Life is on the horizon. Thanks in part to hardware advances, XP meant computers were still useful for longer periods than they were previously.

7) Smartphones
Palm -> BlackBerry -> iPhone -> Android
In a mirror of so many other young industries, early devices were not standardized, but the potential for something great was there. BlackBerry's killer app of push email made the smartphone professionally useful for the first time. The iPhone made it cool.

8) Digital Music
The cassette tape, record stores, and even the CD have started to become things only for old people. With high-speed internet, file sharing and early MP3 players, most radio of the future will be done online.

9) Social Media
Geocities -> Friendster -> MySpace -> Facebook
Facebook and Twitter made sharing minor updates and day-to-day events into community discussion, without having to know HTML.

10) Linux
It's cheaper than Windows, and goes more places, even your toaster. It may be under the hood to end users, but it's there, more ubiquitous than Intel processors.

never liked the column (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45744135)

as he was always in the bag for big computing and didn't 'get' open-source computing

Love or hate I hope he's not taking a final bow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45744149)

Regardless of what you think of his talent - I hope his "retirement" isn't a sign of a critical illness. Whenever I hear something like this - I'm reminded of Charles Shultz or Steve Jobs.

Netscape was crushed by Internet Explorer? (1)

codeusirae (3036835) | about a year ago | (#45744633)

"Netscape Navigator: The first successful consumer Web browser, it was later crushed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer [wsj.com] " ..

Only because Microsoft sabotaged Navigator on Windows, mainly by extending the protocols [edge-op.org] and cloning Netscape [edge-op.org] eg. a full embrace strategy [edge-op.org] and excluding them from the development program [edge-op.org] and implementing a common Netscape/Corel attack group [edge-op.org]

"What kind of date do we have about how much software companies pay Netscape? [edge-op.org] In particular I am curious about their deals with Corel, Lotus and Intuit"

The lowly laptop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45745209)

I would think that laptops (and other devices?) whose microphones and cameras that can be accessed remotely without the user's knowledge would have to be on that list. That is awesome.

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