Aug 29

Dropped from the Dow

I saw a headline stating that Exxon Mobil is being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and I clicked the link because I was curious to know why. I learned that Exxon Mobil has been a part of the Dow since 1928, making it the oldest member. So what happened?

As I read the article, I realized that I had misunderstood what this means. I was confusing it with being delisted from a stock exchange, which usually means that your company is circling the drain and its stock is almost worthless. (This happened to one of my former employers, Pliant Systems, in 1999.) But the Dow is a stock index, not an exchange. Basically, it’s a bundle of stocks that are selected to represent the American economy as a whole. As such, it needs to be updated as the economy evolves.

This particular update was triggered by an impending Apple stock split, which would alter the blend of manufacturing and technology stocks in the index. So the Dow is adding some tech stocks: Salesforce, Amgen and Honeywell. Also being dropped are the drug company Pfizer . . . and my current employer, Raytheon Technologies.

That was a bit of a shock. I’ll try not to take it personally.

Aug 29

Return of the Commodore 64

I missed out on the popular Commodore 64 computer entirely. I was alive at when it was unveiled in 1982, but thanks to my father’s eagerness to adopt new technologies, my family had already had a home computer for several years. Also, I was in college at that point, and since the 64 was primarily a game computer, it would have been a distraction from my studies. (I had also owned an Atari 2600 game console, but I gave it to my brother rather than bring it to college with me.)

When I acquired my first computer in 1983, it was an Apple //e. And in 1987, I traded that one in on my first DOS machine, an XT clone. From that point onward, I owned a series of DOS and Windows machines (and in recent years, a couple of Chromebooks). The entire Commodore 64 ecosystem was a road not taken.

But it holds the Guinness world record for highest-selling single computer model of all time, so I have occasionally wondered what I missed. I could always buy a vintage 64 on eBay, but I don’t relish the challenges of getting an obsolete computer to work in today’s world. Fortunately, there will soon be a better way: the C64, an authentic replica that looks and works almost exactly like the original .

The C64 comes preloaded with 64 Commodore and VIC-20 games, and includes a joystick controller. You can also write your own programs in Commodore BASIC. But it has USB ports and an HDMI port, so you can connect it to modern-day displays and other peripherals.

I’m tempted to preorder one (it ships in November) just to find out what the fuss was all about. But I live in a small apartment, and I already have five computers here (including the two work laptops that don’t belong to me). I’m not sure where I would put it. Still, it would be fun to have.