Computing on alien worlds.
A snippet about the author's stint as an U.N. Earth Ambassador (planetary level foreign exchange student).
The author was an U.N. ambassador for the planet Earth in an alternate time-line. Understanding how time-lines work is outside the scope of this report, suffice it to say that he was returned to Earth less than one Earth day after he was exchanged with a student on another world for about a year. The author was approached by someone from the U.N. as being representative of a more-or-less average Earth student.
Using Stargate-like technology the author was able to visit a number of other planets as an ambassador. The number of planets habited by intelligent life considered worth visiting by Earthmen was about a dozen. The planets were selected from a database built up of planets habited by intelligent races. The vast majority of planets were considered not worth investigating as they had little in common with the Earth. There were several thousand planets inhabited by intelligent species within the galaxy. The database was given to the U.N. once the Earth had been discovered by another world. Geniusís at the U.N. then selected what they considered would be planets were there might be some mutual benefit to contacting.
On the one planet the author visited, he was able to attend a college level school for about a year. Being interested in computers the author decided to try snooping around a bit. On a planetary basis, they had standardized most of their processing requirements around a 6809 like processor with some integrated peripheral devices. The author believes it was a nine-bit version with access to 256k memory. It ran at something like 20 MHz. Everything was networked. Seeing that the technology was not far removed from what was available on Earth at the time, the author got curious as to why an apparently more technology advanced society would choose such a low level of computing. A number of reasons were given. One of the important reasons given was that it was a lowest common denominator that they could provide for virtually everyone with access to basic computer services. It was simple to maintain, inexpensive, robust and secure. It was almost strictly text based. A number of considerations had led the people there to choose a simple low cost monochrome text based systems. The author believe the planet was slightly smaller than Earth, and in a somewhat later stage of development. They had choosen not to waste too many resources on computing. There were also pollution concerns.
The author actually ended up being arrested and detained for fighting in school. He doesít remember anything about it except that someone started a fight with one of his school-friends and somehow got involved.
Overall the planet seemed similar to Earth, and it was a bit like being a foreign exchange student on Earth.