Memory memories? Yes, thinking about memory, computer memory to be exact.
This is prompted by Wendy's July 23rd entry
where she talked about upgrading the memory on her Dell laptop.It's like
the proverbial piece of wisdom: "You can't be too rich or too thin
or have too much RAM."
Of course I can remember how excited (I was working for Binghamton University) we were when we upgraded our 370-158 mainframe from two megabytes to two and a half megabytes!
What a difference twenty-six years can make. (And just how quickly those
twenty-six years can zip by!)
So now Wendy has 320 Megabytes on her laptop.
There are four computers currently in our house, five if you count the
ThinkPad I lug back and forth from home to office.
- Nancy's Aptiva -- the oldest computer still functioning here -- with twenty-four
Megabytes of RAM and a two Gigabyte hard drive. Those numbers had seemed
so impressive when we ordered it. It still functions just fine for Nancy
who uses it for Internet searching, email, and word processing, such typing
up tests and handouts for classes. (High speed cable internet access, connected
via our home LAN, as are Sean's and Jennifer's computers as well.)
- Sean's Aptiva -- the former family computer -- originally 128 Mb, but upgraded
this past winter to 256Mb (also originally 12 Gb drive, upgraded last year
to 40 Gb).
- Jennifer's Aptiva -- her high school graduation present two years ago --
128 Mb RAM. (Yes, there is a certain pattern here, easily explained by
- Jennifer's Dell laptop -- which she purchased earlier this month -- 512
Mb RAM and 40 GB hard drive.
- My T23 ThinkPad notebook -- yes, actually my employer's machine -- with
one Gigabyte of RAM (yes, 1024 Mb) and a 48 Gb hard drive.
It boggles my mind to think that the oldest computer in our house, one
that is practically obsolete, has more memory that IBM 370/158 mainframe.
Not just that, but it actually has more physical memory than that mainframe's
operating system could even address. (OS/VS1 could address a maximum of
16 Mb of memory.) That mainframe had eight IBM 3330 disk drives -- each
one a box about the size of a clothes dryer with the disks being a stack
of a dozen or more (can't remember exactly -- *sigh* -- so much for memories
of memory) platters, each larger than a 33rpm record (an analogy which
only makes sense for those of you old enough to remember vinyl records
instead of CDs). Each one of those stacks of platters could hold one hundred
Megabytes of data. Those eight drives combined could hold a total of 800
Mb of data, or, as we would inform visitors touring the university's computer
center on Parent Weekend, eight hundred million characters, the equivalent
of perhaps one or two thousand books! (That always generated gasps of awe.)
So my laptop has sixty times the disk storage of a major university computer
center and has more than four hundred times the RAM.
My CD drive is also a CD burner, so I could store on one CD more data than
six of those very expensive 3330 disk drives could hold. I recently bought
a package of one hundred blank CD-Rs for a bit over thirty dollars plus
tax and then mailed in a twenty dollar rebate form... so my net cost is
probably about fifteen cents per CD. Moore's Law... absolutely amazing.
(And then stop to think about how much cheaper CDs are than cassette tapes
and wonder why record companies are still able to get away with charging
more for music on CD than on cassette.)
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