The issue: Modern PC's have become overly complex and undependable. Botnet hardware prohibits users from understanding or controling their hardware. Microcode, buggy BIOS, firmware. Backdoors on a hardware level. Layered on top is the most complex set of software, whether you are running Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux, or a BSD. Security holes, endless bugs, and unexpected behavior. A never-ending onslaought of updates, fixes, and "improvements." Proprietary OS's cannot be trusted. The various open source options are an unorganized mess. A large, uncoordinated community of so-called developers relentlessly hacking together haphazard code that is always breaking. The casual, community-driven developement model was novel at the time, but now it's unweildy and dangerous.
Every year software becomes larger and requires more resources. Manufacturers are always coming out with newwer hardware, and the average consumer is elated to scrap their thousand dollar device for a more shoddily manufactured and expensive one. None of these machines are built to last.
Think of all the money and time that is spent developing and manufacturing modern computers. Think of the cost that consumers pay to aquire and maintain these devices. And now consider that these items are treated as disposable. It might be forgivable if modern computers fulfilled their purpose, but instead they are riddled with bugs, defects and poor craftsmanship.
Booting takes an unpredictable amount of time. There are always software updates delaying you. Unwanted reboots that take forever. Overly complex user interfaces with countless dials and toggles for the most useless settings. Software updates routinely introduce regressions and break user-expected behavior. A million things to get in the way of actually using the damn thing.
A solution I would like to see: A simple, bare-bones, future-proof, portable computer. Designed to mainly run in text-mode, but graphics would be possible. Physically robust construction with components designed to last. Extremely low-price.
Low-power, simple CPU. Probably an 8-bit Z80, but maybe something 16-bit. I know very little about CPUs, but the idea would be to have a CPU that is affordable, ubiquitous, and not backdoored or otherwise voulnerable to attack. (Think about microcode infection, firmware exploits, and the recent Ubuntu BIOS corruption debacle.)
Bare-bones BIOS/OS in ROM. Would be able to access and execute code stored on battery-backed RAM, internal flash storage chip, or stored on USB flash. Would include a simple text editor, BASIC, assembler, and small and simple C compiler. Some small utilities for file management, etc. Not likely to have any multitasking.
Standard keyboard. No chiclet shit. Highest quality. Keyboards are how we interact with a computer, and anything subpar is unnacceptable.
Powered by standard AA batteries with optional AC adaptor. Proprietary batteries = planned obsolesence. The simple CPU and components would allow the machine to be powered by 4 AA batteries for many hours of continuous use. Rechargable AA batteries would work.
Non-backlit reflective LCD screen. Backlights are unnecessary. They waste battery and are just another component that will fail.
Instant boot and shutdown. A dependable machine that is simple and easy to use and maintain.
Perfect for writing code. All needed tools built right into the machine. No nonsense to distract you. Store countless text documents in RAM or internal flash. Perfect for archiving and acessing your data.
Would work very well as a word processor. Power on and just start typing.
Does anyone else feel this way? Does anyone else want such a device? Does it exist? Will it ever?