Yep. A whole lot of people do not see that play out in their lives and it makes things very hard to understand. Walk around any serious manufacturing operation, lab, R&D, test / measure, type facility and you will find systems for control, measurement, data collection, and all sorts of other things doing what they were designed to do. And they were expensive when first built and installed, and they are expensive now, and sometimes there isn't even an option to buy, meaning build again.
Tons of people bought Apple ][ computers to run VISICALC. Tons more bought a PC for Word Perfect and LOTUS 123. (A name I never did understand) Doing other things was just gravy. The specs needed to get work done are very different from those used to entertain.
My first PC was kind of crappy. Was some Amstrad thing with CGA, but it could run CAD applications. Could do early DOS gaming too, and of course I played those games, getting on line with a modem in 91. One of the first tasks was to hit up ftp.funet.fi and score. :) That one did work mostly. That work got me a lot of money, and I then was able to get a 386 24Mhz, interlaced VGA output capable of 1024x768 pixel display, non-interlaced 800x600... That one could play some decent games, and of course I played them, but that one ran the CAD much better, and the work paid for...
This is how it goes for many people.
Today lots of stuff is easy and cheap, but the big dollars still go to things that get work done. There is always the power gaming niche, and I don't think it's going anywhere, but if it does, it won't happen before getting work done does and anything that is designed to get work done is going to do well, given it actually does get the work done.
Lots of people thought the Apple 2 was garbage compared to the much more spiffy machines that followed. I was one of those people, but I also needed to get work done too, so I had an Apple and did the work which funded many spiffy things. Those that didn't do that, gaming, whatever often ended up doing other kinds of work, and the machines didn't matter to them.
The specs needed to do real stuff are different. Always have been, always will be.
BTW: Later on, serious CAD, visualization, life sciences, and all sorts of analysis, happened on powerful UNIX workstations. Those things were not cheap. 50K was easy to spend, and depending on what you wanted to do, they might be seen as garbage to the gamer / entertainment crowd. I ended up getting SGI gear, that would play a bad ass game. DOOM ran so sweet on one of those it's not even funny, and if you dual headed it, like two sets of monitors, keyboards, mice, etc... it could run multiple DOOMS without even missing a beat! So there is a case where everything else, even game consoles at the time were garbage in terms of the fun stuff, but not a lot of gaming happened, because it wasn't cheap, and everybody bought them to get work done.
I remember when we started getting dual CPU machines, and "Serious Sam" came out of Croatia. That game demanded a very serious PC, and we had one or two in the building as people were moving off of UNIX and onto the still growing PC. Awesome game, and we played it right, on a projector, good sound, etc... That experience would cost somebody $10K and we did it for fun because we had the gear.
Guess what? That year people were dropping $3K on gaming PC's, if not more to get at the upper crust of what was possible! All that getting work done fueled the advances needed to put machines out there that could then be gamed on hard, and each wave of gaming brought add on devices to the PC dragging things forward on both axis.
Gaming and porn really pushed connectivity and multi-media on the PC and it's the ability to add on, yet keep standards for getting work done that was the magic. The PC could have been done much better. It seriously sucked hard, but the vision of building layer by layer, rolling early investments forward to current ones was and is compelling today, and today we've build on, tweaked, and literally evolved standard stuff that runs great and is cheap.
There are still PC's being made though, and they still have slots in them, because there is still that need to get work done, add on options, etc...
USB and friends help a lot with this, and I think all of that is finally falling into niche land, but when we needed to do it we did. USB today is like the slots of old, and the ability to take the stuff we want to do and combine it to get that stuff done is what matters now, and it's what mattered then too. A PC would do that, most other things would not, and of those that would, they didn't have the position and or perception needed to create that center of gravity we all needed to move it forward like we did.
Well, that's relative isn't it? Most people I know who bought those kinds of PC's were either wanting to learn about doing business with a computer, or were actually doing business with a computer. At that time, if you knew some of the applications, you were very employable. The same remained true for a long time as each wave of tech came to market. I myself rode those waves multiple times making a lot of money along the way. Having made that money, I would gladly game on other things...
They bought the stuff because work was getting done. Work generally pays for gaming, so... there you go.
Fair point, what I should have said is that it has 45 degree resolution. 8 positions isn't very clear. I guess saying three bits per revolution is another way to put it, and what I was really getting at is the angular precision. It is a coarse controller.