connector conspiracy

connector conspiracy

[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 licence 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. Older Apple Macintoshes took this one step further, requiring not only a hex wrench but a specialised 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.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

vendor lock-in

Being tied to the future products of a vendor due to the previous investment made in that vendor's proprietary hardware or software. The most common vendor lock-in is the operating system. When custom programs are written for a specific operating system, it is time consuming and costly to convert those programs to another platform.

Lock-In by Format
If an application creates a proprietary data format that no other software recognizes, the customer is forced to use that program and its successors or absorb the expense of having the data converted to a more common format.

Lock-In by Habit
One of the most common vendor lock-ins is experience. After years of working with a software application and being very familiar with its nuances, it is psychologically difficult to embrace a different user interface on another program. Lock-in by habit is perhaps the most insidious lock-in, because there is no technical reason not to switch.

Lock-In by Programming Language
Although programming languages are generally not proprietary, the investment made in source code can be substantial over time. Converting to another language can be difficult and costly.

Connector Conspiracy
This term dates back many years and refers to vendors creating strange plugs and sockets that are not easily manufactured in order to prevent compatible equipment to come to market. See vendor neutral and vendor interoperability.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.