Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Technological advances continue...

Technological advances continue to amaze me.

I remember setting up my first token ring network.  Huge cables, not very user friendly configuration (why would everyone want to run a cable to a network box like that), everything really big, really slow.

That was almost twenty years ago.

Today, we see things like this. An SD card with enough hardware to be a wi-fi device and store 2gb of stuff.  Or, if you are cheap like me - a 1gb normal SD card for $10 (yes, I had to buy it just because - it was $10)  Now I have lots of room for pictures.

Things are moving scary fast sometimes.  Hard to keep up with everything.

About 10 years ago (ok, 10 years and a month ago), I was asked to review a new PC configuration for a friend, this is the document they sent me from the vendor:

This machine would take about 2 weeks to deliver from the date of purchase.
Gateway 2000 G6-233

Basic Machine
• Processor: Intel 233MHz Pentium II Processor w/ MMX Technology
• Memory: 64MB SDRAM
• Cache: Internal 512K L2 secondary write-back cache
• Monitor: CrystalScan700 17" color monitor
• Graphics Accelerator: nVidia 4MB AGP Graphics Accelerator
• Hard Drive: 4.0GB Ultra ATA hard drive
• Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44MB diskette drive
• CD-ROM: 12X min./24X max. CD-ROM drive
• Multimedia Package: Ensoniq wavetable sound card & Boston Acoustics Micromedia Speaker System
• Fax/Modem: TelePath 33.6 Data / 14.4 Fax Modem
• Case: G-Series Mid Tower
• Keyboard: 104+ Keyboard
• Mouse: MS IntelliPoint Mouse

Bundled Software

• MS Money 97 & Quicken SE
• MMX Technology Bundle
• Microsoft Windows 95
• Application Software: MS Office 97, Professional Edition

• Service Program: Gateway Gold Premium Service and Support (3yrs. Onsite) added: US$99

Additional Peripheral Hardware
This hardware is highly recommended.

The scanner, in conjunction with the fax/modem above, replaces the need for a separate fax machine (to fax outbound, you would scan and ‘print’, to receive faxes, the computer would just be turned on). Additionally, the scanner allows you to digitally store press releases, magazine articles, photographs an so on.

The digital camera allows you to capture electronically what it not printed in the papers.

The tape backup unit is a must if you are going to store items you wish to keep for a lifetime. The hard disk will fail at some point. If you go to the trouble of scanning and storing keepsake items, you do not want to lose them in a hard disk failure. The tape device is large enough to backup the entire system overnight, an operation you would want to do once a week/every other week.

We investigated color LCD monitors (space savings, an LCD monitor would be about 2 inches thick, the CRT above is about 17 inches deep) but feel that at this time they are still too new and not readily in supply. The cost of the LCD screen would be as much as the base system itself ($3,500-$4,000 for a 14 inch LCD display). We are not recommending this at this time.

• Scanner: Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 5Pse Scanner
• Digital Camera: Epson Photo PC 500
• Tape Backup Unit: TR4 SCSI TBU and tape (w/SCSI controller)

Total Price: US $4200

What cost $4200 in 1997 would cost $5218.48 in 2006.  10 years ago - state of the art was 64mb of RAM, 4gb hard disk.  And cost five times what you would expect to pay today.

Nothing to add to that, just find it amazing sometimes.



Anonymous Anonymous said....

Those Gateway 133s and 266s were good machines - some of the ones I bought around that time (with NT & 128MB, not W95) are still in service in the factory environments where they were placed.


Wed Oct 31, 12:24:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Doug said....

Check out the specs for that camera... 640x480 resolution, LCD is an optional accessory, fixed focus lens

Wed Oct 31, 01:40:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous John Spencer said....

I have an old PC Magazine at home from 1987 or 88. The big splash headline on the from cover is heralding the arrival of the "Blazing Fast 33Mhz" 386 chips.

I remember when PCs all had a turbo button so you could crank them back to 8 or 12 Mhz so all of the games whose timing was based on clock ticks were playable.

Wed Oct 31, 04:12:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

I remember when PCs all had a turbo button so you could crank them back to 8 or 12 Mhz so all of the games whose timing was based on clock ticks were playable

Not ALL PCs had a turbo button. My first IBM PC-AT didn't run its 286 processor any faster than 12Mhz. It had a 60Mb hard drive, partitioned into a C: drive and D: drive, since the DOS file system couldn't handle more than 32Mb. There was 1.5Mb of RAM, with all but 640K on an expansion card. I had a CGA graphics adaptor and a Princeton Graphics Systems 12" color CRT. I did splurge for the dual 5.25" floppy drives. I rounded it out with an Okidata Mircoline 192 dot-matrix printer. The price tag for this state of the art system in 1986? About $5,000.

And why did I need this quasi-mainframe on my desktop? To run Oracle V4.1.4, of course!


Wed Oct 31, 06:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Robert said....

and this "ok" laptop will be discounted $100 come Friday....yeah scary, and I am totally convinced now that every single extra dollar spent on HW is essentially a waste of good's like the Energizer bunny - getting cheaper and cheaper...(unless of course if China allows its currency to rise)

Wed Oct 31, 11:06:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

First computer I ever worked on was during my Sophomore year in High School (1978). It was an HP 9830 Desktop calculator. It had 16K of memory, a 1-line, 32-character LED scrollable display, BASIC in ROM, a 2 card-per-second card reader, built-in cassette drive, and a 30-cps daisy-wheel printer/plotter.

It cost $16,000.

The next year they had an additional $10,000 in the budget to spend. The choice was a hard-drive for this thing (I have no memory of how big, probably a few meg), or four Apple II's. Which was good news for me, because by my senior year, I was one of the only students left who still knew how to use the old one, so I essentially had my own private computer.

Thu Nov 01, 09:57:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Kevin said....

It's truly wondrous at the advances being made in technology and basic materials science these days and ages.

I can't wait to see what we're going to be using 10 years from now... Multi-Terabyte thumb drives? 40+ core laptops? Real-Time raytracing?

It's exciting to say for sure...

Thu Nov 01, 11:54:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Robert said....

and of course however powerful our next computer will be, it will not be enough for Windows *rolleyes*

Thu Nov 01, 12:52:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Here is one of the coolest new things just rolling out. Its holographic storage. You get a disk about the size of a DVD, but it stores 300 GB of storage. The device to read it is about $15,000. They are planning to have them at 1.6 TBs in a few years with large price drops. These could replace tape backups.

In 10 years you will remember this post when you get the holographic storage read that will have several terabytes/disk for $200

There are a few companies doing this.

Also, check out note the radical increase in super computer performance. They increase so much the list is updated every 6 months. The 500th most powerful supercomputer in the world in 2006 was more powerful than the ENTIRE top 500 combined in 1993 when the list started.

They expect the 500th most powerful supercomputer in the world to reach 1 petaflop by 2015.

The #1 supercomputer in the world runs at 280 tflops. At June's supercomputer conference Sun announced one they are building at 500 tflops and then IBM announced one at 1 pflop. I think the Sun one may be in the november 2007 list. Not sure about the IBM one

Thu Nov 01, 01:02:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Stew said....

Which is more amazing really, all this progress in hardware or the lack of progress in applications and software?

We have brand new J2EE applications that run slow or freeze on recent UNIX machines with 8 GB of memory. The applications I developed on mainframes 20 years ago took less time and budget to develop, had fewer bugs and better response times.

As for PCs, they are infinitely more powerful -- at least until you install the antivirus software :-( -- but the OS still requires quite a bit of "home maintenance".

Fri Nov 02, 03:47:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Stew Said...

very good point. We are still discussing that topic over here to some degree.

I run so little software anymore - basically, a web browser, email client, instant message client (and I run many different web browsers, email clients, IM clients - it is all about the data :) ) and frankly do not expect much from it, the UI type of data.

Now server software has in my opinion been getting better, much more stable, reliable over time. It is the pretty looking front ends that are so fragile.

Fri Nov 02, 07:08:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Patty C. said....

The Eye-Fi card is very cool, perfect Christmas gift for the digital camera geek that I have to buy for. Thank-you! Now I just have to find one in stock somewhere and get them to ship it to Canada...

Fri Nov 02, 08:22:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The fastest computer I ever owned was a 386 bought in the early 90's running DOS. I was amazed the first time I typed "wp" and Word Perfect just appeared in an instant.

My new dual core running Vista is really slow.

Fri Nov 02, 09:27:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Peter Chow AKA Emperor Chow said....

technological advances are amazing, aside from just price alone, how about size? This was on digg a while back:

it shows an 1GB harddrive from 20 years ago and a sdcard from today. To think that the data on that big hulking disc can now fit on something that's the size of my fingernail is both impressive and awe-inspiring.

Sun Nov 04, 04:18:00 PM EST  

Blogger Arun Mathur said....

This brings back good memories of my first computer, the Radio Shack MC-10, size of a sandwich. I think it was a subset of the TRS-80s. I thought I was "it" when I upgraded my memory from 4k to 20k :) Cost me $50 dollars....


Mon Nov 05, 09:31:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

somewhat offtopic, but how come has been down for more than 15 hours?
// to link it to the subject
What HW are they using there :) ?

Mon Nov 12, 09:20:00 AM EST  


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