Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/10/13

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Subject: [Leica] POOR Jim Brick was: Leica camera rumours
From: Aaron Ruby <>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 18:41:40 -0400

Jim Brick wrote:

> Aaron,
> No.
> You forget that a five or ten year old computer is all but useless. It's
> the software base that makes a computer, not the hardware. And as time
> passes, software is improved and will not be improved for an obsolete
> machine. No new printer drivers, no firewire or USB upgrades, no networking
> upgrades, nothing. You may be able to fix the hardware, but it will not run
> the modern software base.
> On the other hand, the Leica M3 works just as well as the new M6 TTL HM.
> The software (film) keeps changing, but the machine (M3, M2, M4, M6) will
> still use anything that is produced in 35mm.
> If Apple went out of business, their machines and user base would die a,
> slow at first, then a quick death. Anybody out there still running an 8080
> and CP/M and doing useful work?. Any original 6502 Apples out there still
> running doing useful work? I still have my old CP/M machines. I still have
> my old 486 laptops. For all intent and purposes, they are useless junk.
> Leica makes machines that use film. It makes no difference to a Leica how
> much 35mm film changes. Look at the films we have today .vs. those we had
> in the 50's and 60's. The photographic profession can, and does, use Leica
> equipment, regardless of age.
> The computer profession cannot tolerate a machine that is over five years
> old. You cannot even run Photoshop on an IBM 286/386/486 class machine. The
> same quick obsolesce holds true for Apple products. How many B&W original
> Macintoshes out there doing web searches?
> The Leica camera industry is completely different than the Apple computer
> industry. Like comparing Chocolate cake to raw Tofu.
> Jim


Sorry, but you're making the same mistake poor old Dr. Blacktape made, and on top
of that you've relied on a bad analogy between software and film.

First, a couple of observations:

1. A five or ten year old computer (or anything for that matter) can only be
useless relative to some task. My almost six-year-old Powerbook 180 is still
running fine, thank you very much, and my wife, a professional journalist, uses
it constantly. She was certainly surprised when I told her it was "all but

2. Software does not "make" a computer. Rather, the software (or program), like
any other part of the computer, lends it functionality. The hardware is no less
essential to the computer's function than the software. In fact, to be technical,
the 'software' isn't even a physical object; it's merely a set of rules that are
instantiated by physical states of the computer.

Now to your criticism of my post:

Nothing I said about Apple or computers or the computer industry denied the fact
that were Apple to go under, it would eventually become difficult to add
features/improved functionality to existing machines. All I said is that the very
same thing is true for the Leica M, were Leica to go under. Look, if Leica went
under, you would have little or no hope of ever seeing a digital back for your
M6, and you'd never see flash sync at 1/250 or that 35 Noctilux. And, sure, my
Powerbook won't run PS 5.5, but neither will the M6 meter automatically
compensate for certain types of scenes, as the F5 supposedly does. To turn your
own words back on you: "as time passes _cameras_ are improved and will not be
improved for an obsolete [note this begs the question] _camera_." The only reason
you think your M3 is not obsolete is that it still performs the function you
require of it. The same is true of my Powerbook. Not all of us need the latest
gee-whiz computer/camera to get our jobs done. Heck, half the talk on this list
in praise of the M cameras revolves around this notion.

I also think you've been mislead by your own analogy, which is, frankly, a bad
one. Film is not the analog of software in cameras. As I said above, programs
aren't even physical objects, so right away your analogy starts to break down.
Also, irrespective of whether the camera has film in it, it is still able to
perform its function--namely, to focus a certain amount of light at the film
plane for a given period of time. The film does nothing but take advantage of the
proper function of the camera. It does nothing to supply or improve that
function. In other words a camera without film still functions as a camera.
Perhaps not a very practical one, but a camera nonetheless. A word processor
without a word processing program does not function at all.

The bottom line is that when a manufacturer goes under, whether a camera maker or
a computer maker, the orphaned machines it leaves behind are not magically
disabled. In both cases, the machines will continue to function until abandoned
or until they fail. In both cases, the path to additional features will become
blocked. The difference between the macintosh and the M-camera in this respect is
a quantitative one, not a qualitative one. It lies in the fact that M-cameras are
likely to last longer before failure than computers. Thus I agreed with Dr.
Blacktape's conclusion, despite the fact that it wasn't supported by his