Jonathan Zittrain on Computers - Dictionary of Arguments
Computer/Zittrain: First, there was the First, there was the large-scale Hollerith model of mainframes managed by a single firm like IBM. These computers had general-purpose processors inside, capable of a range of tasks, and IBM’s programming team devised the software that the customer needed to fulfill its goals. The second type of computing devices was information appliances: devices hardwired for a particular purpose. […]Information appliances were substantially cheaper and easier to use than mainframes, thus requiring no ongoing rental and maintenance relationship with a vendor. However, they could do only the tasks their designers anticipated for them.
PC makers were selling potential functionality as much as they were selling actual uses, and many makers considered themselves to be in the hardware business only. To them, the PCs were solutions waiting for problems.
The essence—and genius—of separating software creation from hardware construction is that the decoupling enables a computer to be acquired for one purpose and then used to perform new and different tasks without requiring the equivalent of a visit to the mechanic’s shop.1
1. WINN L. ROSCH, THE WINN L. ROSCH HARDWARE BIBLE 35-38 (6th ed. 2003)._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It New Haven 2009