connector conspiracy

Slang Dictionary

connector conspiracy

n. [probably came into prominence with the appearance of the KL-10 (one model of the PDP-10), none of whose connectors matched anything else] The tendency of manufacturers (or, by extension, programmers or purveyors of anything) to come up with new products that don't fit together with the old stuff, thereby making you buy either all new stuff or expensive interface devices. The KL-10 Massbus connector was actually _patented_ by DEC, which reputedly refused to license the design and thus effectively locked third parties out of competition for the lucrative Massbus peripherals market. This policy is a source of never-ending frustration for the diehards who maintain older PDP-10 or VAX systems. Their CPUs work fine, but they are stuck with dying, obsolescent disk and tape drives with low capacity and high power requirements.

(A closely related phenomenon, with a slightly different intent, is the habit manufacturers have of inventing new screw heads so that only Designated Persons, possessing the magic screwdrivers, can remove covers and make repairs or install options. A good 1990s example is the use of Torx screws for cable-TV set-top boxes. Older Apple Macintoshes took this one step further, requiring not only a long Torx screwdriver but a specialized case-cracking tool to open the box.)

In these latter days of open-systems computing this term has fallen somewhat into disuse, to be replaced by the observation that "Standards are great! There are so many of them to choose from!" Compare backward combatability.
FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

connector conspiracy definition

business, standard
The tendency of manufacturers (or, by extension, other designers) to come up with products that don't fit with the old stuff, thereby making you buy either all new stuff or expensive interface devices.
The term probably came into prominence with the appearance of the DEC KL-10, none of whose connectors matched anything else. The KL-10 Massbus connector was actually *patented* by DEC, who reputedly refused to licence the design, thus effectively locking out competition for the lucrative Massbus peripherals market. This policy was a source of frustration for the owners of dying, obsolescent disk and tape drives.
A related phenomenon is the invention of new screw heads so that only Designated Persons, possessing the magic screwdrivers, can remove covers and make repairs or install options. Older Apple Macintoshes took this one step further, requiring not only a hex wrench but a specialised case-cracking tool to open the box.
With the advent of more open-systems computing this term has fallen somewhat into disuse.
Compare backward combatability.
[Jargon File]
(2010-02-04)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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