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We’ve Come a Long Way

Every so often, an event reminds me of the rapidly changing face of technology. I was reading a review of Gnome Shell this morning, and of course there’s the never-ending stream of iPad news this month…but the trigger for me this week was the purchase of a terabyte hard drive and being upset that it cost over $100. Coincidentally, it’s almost exactly 20 years since I got my first Windows PC. Let me take a look at how far I’ve come from that old CompUSA 486 to my current machine, which I call Ralf (the Wise and Powerful).

My desktop computer now has 2.5 terabytes of fixed disk storage and 1.5 terabytes of external storage. The 486 had 120 megabytes, so I’ve got twenty thousand times more storage space. The single-core 486 had a 33 megahertz clock, and Ralf has 3.0 gigahertz quad-core chip – 90 times the clock speed and at least five hundred times the computer power (bogomips of around 800 times greater).

While the 486 had 4 megabytes of RAM, Ralf has 12 gigabytes – three thousand times more memory. In 1992, I was glad to have a 14″ monitor, with the impressive resolution of 800×600 with 16-bit color; my 24″ LCD has 1920×1080 resolution and 32-bit color – five times the number of pixels and ten times the video bandwidth.

One of the most influential games of 1992 was Dune II – the first realtime strategy game to become a hit and the precursor to Warcraft. 2012 is barely begun, but it’s hard not to think of Mass Effect 3 as being a big deal on the PC.

Wow, have we come a long way in twenty years.
Also on my desk, I have a Chumby One. The Chumby has a 454 megahertz processor, 64 megabytes of RAM, 1 gigabyte of storage, and a 320×240 touchscreen. Except for the screen resolution, the Chumby beats the 486 by leaps and bounds – it cost me 45 bucks.

Originally published at BunkBlog. You can comment here or there.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2012 12:38 am (UTC)
Gary, I was drooling over a tablet today that had a quad-core processor, a gig of RAM, and 64 gigs of storage... PLUS any SDHC card you might be inclined to slap in it. It was at that point that I remembered our first computer - a Gateway Pentium II with a 4GB hard drive and ?192? MB RAM.

Mar. 22nd, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
Four gigabyte hard drive? You came to the PC world LATE! I remember wandering around Seattle picking up a 540 megabyte Bigfoot hard drive in 1994 and thinking I would never need that much storage.
Mar. 22nd, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Yep, we didn't get our first computer 'til 1998-ish. That is, if you don't count the one that Matt bought, when CP/M was the next big thing.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )