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64 kilobytes of fast RAM

Aug 20, 2017, 23:20

Ads are the best thing about old computer magazines. These are from the August 1979 issue of the BYTE magazine about LISP.

At the time those computers were considered powerful, or at least capable, and now, 40 years later, we buy chips with similar specs wholesale for $1 or $2 to power some kind of IoT device, and they're considered severely underpowered for any real embedded work. Our WiZ Wi-Fi connected lamps use a chip with similar specs, an ESP8266, made popular because of a free RTOS and low price, but even that has 96 KB RAM, a 50% increase.

High end servers have RAM in the terabytes, a hundred million percent increase from these 1978 chips.

What I wonder, looking at the present-day magazine ads, praising laptops to be thin, light, and powerful, is just how peddling, thick and underpowered they will seem in forty years' time. Even more suprising is that we do feel they are genuinely light (just under one kilo!) and thin (just 9 mm thick!), exactly the same as we felt about laptops of ten years ago, which have been twice as thick and twice as heavy.

The only constant thing about consumer computers is that a good one always costs $2000.

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