In Support of Withered Technology

Sep. 19, 2020 [technology] [hardware]

While it is nice to be on the bleeding edge of some exciting new tech, there is something to be said for intentionally pursuing older standards, hardware and software. One might miss out on having the most efficient CPU decompression or latest rendering tech, for example, but dated or withered technology comes with its own perks. This is not a term of my making, in fact, we actually owe it to one of the enemies of digital freedom.

The idea is that a mature design will have had its kinks ironed out and the time to prove itself in the field. It is often cheap, well documented and well supported by existing infrastructure devised around it. To the benefit of computing hardware, this often manifests in the driver software. Completeness and major bugfixes are generally all addressed a few years into its lifecycle and users can anticipate that updates will not cause major breakages or new and unintended behavior.

In software and protocols, a solution often reaches maturity once it has become feature complete. The project enters maintenance mode to receive bug fixes, security patches or the occasional feature tweak. It has accomplished its mission of achieving what the authors orginally set out to do. Very often this software can be run on almost any platform, is compatible with a diverse range of software clients and typically has very low hardware requirements.

This little rant is my vote in favor of stepping back a bit from the technological rat race and appreciating that there is stability to be found in the old ways. And I think that gamers in particular could use a dash of this perspective. Beautiful 3D games of yesteryear which once turned towers into a jet turbines are no less beautiful today than when they were launched. And now even metaphorical toasters can run them with ease.