= C =
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.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.