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Feb 18, 2006, 13:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Locke)

"Computer history has some interesting parallels with the history of the American West. After the initial forays of Lewis and Clark and the first set of explorers, early settlers crossed the plains in covered wagons. But the West wasn't accessible to most Americans until the age of the railroads, when the Union Pacific Railroad put tracks across the continent and started running a regular passenger service.

"To ride the trains, you needed to pay a fare to the railroad companies. These companies became huge monopolies, because they controlled the only way for the average person to cross the country. For a time the railroads were it, and as long as the tracks went where you wanted to go, the rails were the cheapest and best way to get there. And after all, the major cities all developed along rail routes, so where would you want to go that you couldn't get to by rail...?"

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