Tuesday, May 16, 2006

For only $8499.00...

In 1989 – this is what $8499.00 could buy you:

gooddeal

According to the inflation calculator, that is a cool $13,247 today! Can you imagine. I remember thinking for a long time that all computers will always cost about $4,000 to 5,000 – that is what I was paying for them back then.

About that time, at work I had a similarly configured machine (I was the lucky one). It was a 16 Mhz 386 PS2 with the unheard of 4 MB of ram (much more ram than I could actually ever make use of).

It seemed so fast at the time… At home I had the lowly Tandy 1000EX that I ultimately upgraded to a 20Mhz 386 from Gateway Computers. Probably right around the time this advertisement was current.

IBM Micro channel compatible architecture provides
a 32-bit wide data path for
virtually simultaneous
data transfer between peripherals


There was nothing “virtually simultaneous” about these machines in retrospect. They seemed fast back them. Now they would feel painful.
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21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said....

$8500 and the mouse and monitor not included? Wow!

Tue May 16, 04:18:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Yeah, and the monitors were not cheap back then either.

The mouse was useless, so you could save money there :)

Tue May 16, 04:24:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

They seemed fast back them. Now they would feel painful.

Well, it depends. I still have my 1985 vintage Amiga 1000, and trot it out every so often to remind people what good programming can do on relatively limited hardware. ~$1600 when going in with coworkers to buy 3 IIRC, plus another few hundred for upgrades (memory and game controllers, never got a hard disk) and software (including copy-protection defeating program for, um, making backups). About the same I paid for XP machines last year, watching for sales. And about the same I paid around 1992 for a locally built AMD 33 (now with a 300, faster cd and bigger hd, still used by 5-year-old - monitor is still good). And about the same I paid for Allan's machine, c1998.

Inflation is an artificial number, subject to definitional manipulation. Mostly.

Tue May 16, 04:30:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Jeff said....

Wow, that is expensive.
My 8086 IBM clone only cost $2,800 back in '84.
Granted it only ran at 4.77Mhz with 128K of ram. But hey, the cheesy little programs I was writing wouldn't have run noticably faster on a 20Mhz anyway.

It still sits in a box in the basement. I just can't part with it.

Tue May 16, 04:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Tom Best said....

I worked at my Father's Radio shack in the early 80s. Our first computer at home was the RS Color Computer, which had 4K (yes, 4096 bytes) of RAM. Disk storage - well, none. If you could get lucky with the volume setting, you could store things onto a cassette tape. I hacked out some basic programs, and then got interested in assembly language on that machine. I think it ran at 0.89 MHz. But... there was a secret "poke" (changing a memory value directly) that would double it to 1.78 MHz!
I love looking at these old systems because it shows how far we've come in a short time.

Tue May 16, 06:51:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thet said....

I remember the NEC 386 16MHz I had back in 1989. I do not recall how much memory I had or how much we paid for it. I was in Adelaide, Australia back then. The entire office came to look at the machine with the largest hard-drive (300MB!) in the office. And then the pen plotter arrived and stole the show (I must admit I too enjoyed watching it plot changing pens every now and then).

Tue May 16, 08:36:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

>> there was a secret "poke" (changing a memory value directly) that would double it to 1.78 MHz!

Ah hah!

_fast = true

Wed May 17, 12:52:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Phil said....

An IBM AT is one of two computers that ever appreciated in value for me. Bought for $25 in 1993 (keyboard, monitor, 30 MB half-height HD, 512k memory) and sold on eBay in 2003 for $55. (The other profitable 'investment' was an IBM PCjr.)

Wed May 17, 02:51:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I got a Tandy 1000 in 1988 for my graduation present. I took it with me to college and was the ONLY person in the whole town who had the capability of copying the old 5.25" floppies to the new, at the time 720k 3.5" floppies. That's how I made my spending cash that year.

Wed May 17, 06:44:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Arun Mathur said....

First computer, age 13(1985): My dad bought me a $50 MC-10 from Radio Shack. 4K of memory. For an additional $50, I expanded it to 16K and got to hang with the "big boys". Disk space? No way. Tape recorder for me. I still have flashbacks in my head watching the screen flicker from "S" (searching) "F" (found!).

Great read, Tom.

Regards,
Arun

Wed May 17, 08:49:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous RobH said....

OH YES, ours had a "Turbo" button, to go from 8-12mhz. It was awesome!

Wed May 17, 09:22:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

I also thought that every computer I ever bought would cost about $5,000. My first, an IBM PC AT had 640K of RAM on the motherboard and another 1Mb on an expansion card. I had a 60MB hard disk that was partitioned into a C: and D: drive since DOS only supported 32Mb in a single partition. I had a Princeton Graphics Systems 12" CGA monitor and an Okidata Microline 192 dot-matrix printer. All of this so I could run Oracle V4.1.4!

My next PC was a Northgate 33MHz 386 box, then a Zeos 66MHz 486, a Dell Dimension XPS with a 200MHz Pentium Pro, all for about $5,000 each. Finally, about a year and a half ago, I got a new Dell box with a Pentium 4, an entry level Dell box with a Celeron processor for my in-laws, a 17" flat panel display for myself (my father-in-law took my 20" CRT) and a 23" LCD television. What did the whole pile of technology cost?? About $5,000.

Wed May 17, 09:03:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

I'm not sure how much we have progressed, quite frankly. Sure, the UI is nice. But it's incredibly expensive in terms of resources.
Worth it? I don't think so.

Back in 2001 I plonked DOS 6 and my faithful Quarterdeck suite (QEMM and other add-ons) on an old P2 I had lying around. The result was the fastest desktop I've ever seen! Only got decomissioned last year.

Sometimes I have to wonder if someone is not playing a practical joke on all of us...

Wed May 17, 09:40:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Leo Mannhart said....

All of this so I could run Oracle V4.1.4!

I never had the guts to install Oracle V4.1 on a PC but I was using this version on an IBM mainframe (4143?) under VM/CMS. My first Oracle version on PC was 5.1c (somebody needs the sqlplus-floppy-disk?)

Thu May 18, 07:40:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Peter Lewis said....

Anyone remember the BT Merlin Tonto? I wrote up my degree disssertation on one of them back in 1988. No hard disk, no floppy disk, just a continuous loop of tape in a small microdrive cartridge. The Tonto could handle two phone lines though. Apparently.

Thu May 18, 10:43:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Jeff said....

"I'm not sure how much we have progressed, quite frankly. Sure, the UI is nice. But it's incredibly expensive in terms of resources.
Worth it? I don't think so.

Back in 2001 I plonked DOS 6 and my faithful Quarterdeck suite (QEMM and other add-ons) on an old P2 I had lying around. The result was the fastest desktop I've ever seen! Only got decomissioned last year."


Yeah, but faster at the sake of functionality. You're surely not browsing the web on that thing.

I enjoy the nostalgia, but change and progress in a good thing. Embrace it.

Thu May 18, 11:07:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I enjoy the nostalgia, but change and progress in a good thing. Embrace it.

It can be a good thing if done properly. So often, it is done just for the sake of change, losing experience or functionality. For example, my ISP has implmented a k001 webmail app. This morning they restored everyone's address book to 25 Apr. OOOPS! Fortunately, being too lazy to use address books, I wasn't affected. But many others were. And I have been affected by some mysterious rejection of some of my email forwarding which they haven't been able to 'splain. They just better fix it before metalink upgrades to email logins. Gee, maybe Oracle should use surrogate keys :-)

Then again, maybe I just expect too much from having grown up with hardwired telephones that worked all the time.

word verification: laglhbyt
second word verification: tutvf

Thu May 18, 06:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

Actually, that box is now used to browse the web, with Linux! It still works perfeclty and with few problems. Browsing is hardly the stuff of dreams when it comes to resource or functionality overhead. In fact, it's quite light. Unlesss one uses the hopeless software from M$, that is...

Thu May 18, 07:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Flieger said....

The one I learned basic on was the (1980) Commodore 8032: 32k of RAM! I've got one sitting in my garage. The good thing about it: It boots up in 2 seconds!

Mon May 22, 11:30:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Frank said....

The most expensive system I ever had at home (at a lend basis...) was a $50k Texas Instruments PC.
Standard cost: $12,000 (including a 20MB unformatted Winchester Disk) - the additional 38,000 was a Digital Signal Processor card, and Speech Recognition software.
It actually worked like a charm, and could recognize words when used in a sentence.

Wed May 24, 09:06:00 AM EDT  

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