Friday, November 06, 2009

Progress of computers

I know it's an endless story, but I was reminded of it as I built up a new computer over the last few days. It's amazing to think of the pace of computers has been over the last three decades that I have been using them.

My first computer, circa, 1980 was a zx81. I was a teenager eager to learn how to program a computer. It had 2k of memory and a very slow cassette storage mechanism. But it used a standard audio cassette player. Does anyone even know what that is?

Then I got the color version, sold in the US as a Sinclair 2068. This was the age of the Apple IIe.

Not being able to afford an Apple, I got my hands on a Commodore 64 and had a blast. It had 64 k of memory but a slow 5-1/2 disk drive that stored around 170k of data.

Finally after college, I got a decent PC (1991 or so) that sported Windows 3.1 and a huge drive of 220 MB. I sweated over the details on this one since it was around $3000. All that sweat was rendered obsolete soon after.

The story remains the same; Yesterday, I built up a new computer which has 4GB ram and a 1-Terrabyte hard drive. Yes, 1-Terrabyte = 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.

And the scary part is, it's really not a big deal these days.

My first real pc (1991) cost $3000 and had
200 MB Hard Drive
Intel 486 processor running at 20 MHz or something like that
cheeseball graphics
Windows 3.1

The computer I built yesterday (A very conservative build) cost less than $600 and has
1 TB Hard Drive
AMD Athlon II 4-core processor running at 2.6 GHz
High speed 512 MB3D graphics card with two DVI outputs
Windows 7


I also found some interesting things while cleaning up:

Lotus 1-2-3. It pushed the need for computers to go beyond the 640k memory barrier in the 1980's


Mosaic. One of the first ways to browse the web.