Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 1

the Cold War was super fun for left wing types in the USA. lemme show you

meet the humble Compaq Contura 3/25 and its only circuitboard

Powered by a chip almost entirely unknown and undocumented today, the 8292sx, the Compaq Contura 3/20 (or 3/25) was powered by Intel’s first 80×86 based System-on-a-Chip, encompassing video + I/O + etc.

Released around a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was an engineering marvel for its time in terms of the level of sophistication it provided in consumer hardware, let alone budget-level consumer hardware. The much more advanced fabrication process & timing hardware necessary to run essentially every major peripheral out of just a 44-pin package were the key innovations, which no other hardware manufacturer in the USA was given access to.

Imagine you’re a low or mid-level electrical engineer or programmer in the Soviet Union: would you find this disheartening?

That was probably the point. I almost wonder if it wasn’t named the way it was because Leonid Brezhnev died in ’82 and top brass expected the Soviet Union to collapse by ’92.

Here’s the weird thing: this processor, nor any other like it, was used after ’93 or so. No need to, I guess, plus it was probably expensive to manufacture and the needs of color displays rendered it totally obsolete. They don’t seem to have ever updated it with color VGA circuitry, either.

Intel was run by a die-hard anti-Communist who escaped Hungary, and Compaq was run by a bunch of dorky Texans in suits with pocket protectors

Apple was run by a lunatic who would have passed a security clearance right around the time hell froze over and who liked to do hallucinogens and bare his soul to foreign gurus

So the insides of Steve’s laptops from the same period looked like this, they used 2x as much power, weighed about 1.5x as much, and cost WAY more:

Would you be constantly stressed, angry, and mercurial if the government and practically everyone in your entire supply chain were doing this stuff to you in order to destroy and/or marginalize your company?

If you think the playing field is even for any business in the USA, think again.