"Personal Transportation" vs. "Personal Computing"

"Personal Transportation" vs. "Personal Computing"

Post by Peter Mar » Mon, 20 Sep 1993 01:55:12

A colleague of mine suggested that there might be some value in looking
for a useful analogy between the development of "personal transportation"
from the practical introduction of the bicycle a century ago, and the
more recent development of "personal computing."  For example, consider

  + cyclists were the original highway lobbyists, but perhaps any success
    led in part led to their displacement by cars [and now *everyone* is
    talking of information highways]

  + bicycles have a very different meaning in the U.S. ('mere' recreation)
    and much of the rest of the world ('serious' commuter transportation)
    [is there a similar distinction for computing or telecommunicating?]

In any event, I'm interested in following up on the suggestion, and would
appreciate pointers to references on the early-middle history of "mass"
bicycling, and particularly of its *economic history*.  Can anyone suggest
relevent books, reports, or theses?



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"Personal Transportation" vs. "Personal Computing"

Post by John Ciccarell » Wed, 22 Sep 1993 10:28:26

> pointers ...to... the early-middle history of "mass" bicycling?

At the excellent exhibit this summer at SF Airport, I learned that cycling
underwent a "craze" in the late 1860s, due in part to technical innovations
like pedals :-).  There was a hilarious cartoon from Harper's Bazaar magazine
for 1867 or thereabouts, showing the economic consequences of replacing the
horse with the bicycle.  I'd dig up those Harper's issues in a university or
city library system (or Harper's itself).

I would also contact the League of American Wheelmen, Baltimore, MD.
(410)-539-3399.  LAW was founded in the 1880's and its early members were
involved in the "Good Roads" movement that advocated paving of then-dirt roads.
 A decade later, the first automobiles made good use of these good roads, and
the rest is, well, history.

/John Ciccarelli


"Personal Transportation" vs. "Personal Computing"

Post by Vivek R » Thu, 23 Sep 1993 09:01:26

You may find this interesting:

"The personal computer is a bicycle for the mind" - Steven Jobs

This is from John Sculley's autobiographical "From Pepsi to Apple".
He refers to the fact that a walking human is making pretty
inefficient use of energy for movement (the most efficient animal
is the condor) but a human on a bicycle is massively efficient -
beating even the condor.

Similarly the personal computer, Jobs hoped, would be a lightweight
tool for making the mind function more optimally.

Vivek Rau


"Personal Transportation" vs. "Personal Computing"

Post by Henling, Lawrence » Sat, 25 Sep 1993 02:21:00


>(the most efficient animal
>is the condor) but a human on a bicycle is massively efficient -
>beating even the condor.

 I hope the bicycle fares better in Southern California than the
condor. But both suffer from loss of habitat. Pasadena, which
declares itself 'bicycle friendly' is doing all sorts of nice
things, such as adding center turn lanes to streets which removes
the shoulder and makes the lanes so narrow that cars have to
move to avoid hitting cyclists.