High Tech Enters Classic Era

Live long enough, and eventually everything will become "classic." Now, it seems, the classic business is catching up with high technology.

Live long enough, and eventually everything will become "classic." We already have classic rock on the radio, classic TV on cable, classic sports on ESPN (a wonderful thing), classic fashions and classic cars. Now, it seems, the classic business is catching up with high technology.

Original versions of Atari games such as Asteroids, Centipede and Pong and other arcade classics are being reissued along with updated versions (that is, Windows XP-compatible). In addition, before Nintendos GameBoy, there was Mattels handheld NFL football, the one with the LED blip players. To my everlasting gratitude, Mattel has re-released it as Classic Football.

Its difficult, but not impossible, to extend the classic motif into enterprise computing. We dont want to go back to technological marvels such as the IBM luggable "portable" PC, 5.25-inch floppies or cell phones the size of shoe boxes. And some things, such as the Web, may not have been around long enough to deserve classic treatment.

Still, some classics of computing are making comebacks. Mainframes, especially those running Linux in virtual environments, are becoming a force again as IT departments look to consolidate servers and beef up availability and scalability. IBM last year saw its first full year of mainframe sales growth since 1989, culminating five consecutive quarters of growth starting with the December 2000 release of the z900 mainframe, officials said.

And now that we are officially recovering from the dot-bomb era, businesses are starting to incorporate lessons learned from the gold rush of the late 90s and the Enron fiasco. For example, CCP Global, an Ariba systems integrator, is finding new business as Big 5 accounting companies look to scale back overreaching systems integration practices to focus on, well, accounting.

Several years ago, I boldly (some say foolishly) declared the Web browser wars over, with Internet Explorer the winner. I was vilified by Netscape and its users over the opinion, which was certainly justified at the time. But as with all things, its now time to again consider Netscape with its new 6.2 version. Its much faster and smoother than the beasts that preceded it. You can even swap the futuristic new look of the browser for the "classic" Navigator skin. See, stick around long enough, and even browsing the Web can seem like its 1995 all over again.

What else is making a comeback? Write to me at scot_petersen@ziffdavis.com.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...