It Has Arrived

18 July, 2008

I am posting this on my new computer.  My desktop computer (a five year old Dell (which had done yeoman’s service)) died about a month ago leaving (((Wife))) and I with only (((Boys))) fancy-pants Dell laptop which he will be taking away to college in August.

I ordered a new computer from Dell.  It’s an Inspiron 1525 with an upgraded processor.  The price was reasonable, the thing blasts compared to the old desktop, and it has a cool white and blue pattern on the cover.  They gave me a shipping date of July 29th.  It arrived today!!!!!!

My very first computer, when I was a Sophomore in high school (my second Sophomore year) my parents bought me a computer.  It was the hottest machine on the market at the time.  It was a TI-PC with two 5.25-inch drives, a whopping 128k of RAM, a souped up 8086 processor, and a 1.2-Megabyte hard drive.  It was huge.  Monitor, computer, and printer weighed in at about 30 pounds.  I used it all the way through college.  I got very, very good at writing batch files and programming in C, Cobol, Basic and Compiled Basic.

My second computer was a laptop with a 10-Meg hard drive, a little RAM, and a black and white monitor.  It was good, but by the mid-90s (((Wife))) and I needed a machine which could be used easily.  We fell for a Packard Bell POS which worked fairly well, and then died.

The Dell desktop replaced the PB, and I discovered a computer that actually worked.  I learned all about mp3’s, digital photography, and the limitations of a 10-Gig hard drive.

My new computer has an 80-Gig hard drive (plus we have a 250-Gig external flash drive).  From an 8086 to a dual core Pentium whatever.  From 1.2 megabytes of hard drive to 80 Gigabytes.  From 128 k of RAM to 2 Gigs of Ram.  And the new one is not even top of the line.  Not even close.

In less then 25 years.

What will a computer be able to do in another 25 years?



  1. I think I saw a movie about that once. I’m pretty sure they take over the world.

  2. You mean they haven’t?

  3. Laurie and (((Billy))): a lot of the tasks my colleagues and I do at work require Internet connections. Whenever the ‘Net goes down, we search desperately for stuff to do until we can get back online again. It’s a little bit scary, actually.

  4. This year I got a new Dell XPS 420 with a bunch of RAM and huge hard drive and a quad core processor (or is that hard core processor). I used to be a Gateway guy, but I’m sold on Dell. Also got a 1525, much RAM, much drive, and other goodies. Definitely a rush in both cases. Did I mention Doom 3 and Half-Life 2? 🙂

    Programs you might find interesting now that you have a real computer: The Brain and Rationale.

    chappie –

    The power went off the other day for a couple of hours. End of the world. Everybody out there I relate to disappeared. Reminded me of a small college party I had at my place one night when I was young. My friend Paul, a grad student in economics, stoned, stepped outside for a few minutes. When he came back in he took me aside, look right into my eyes, and said, “Ric, there’s nothing out there. Nothing.” Then he went and sat in the corner for a while. (Last I heard he worked for Salomon Bros at some huge salary.)

  5. I forgot to mention that I went to a bocce match today up at one of the churches by the village green. Strictly amateur affair. Most people knew nothing about the game but were there to play just because it was a charity affair for the local Samaritan suicide group. Or anti-suicide group. I tossed some practice rounds, but wasn’t registered to play the event. It was fun, but of course it wasn’t petanque, so it did suffer in comparison. 🙂

  6. Chappie: At work, when the regional office is doing some server work, and we have no email or web, we don’t QUITE grind to a halt, but it comes close (the tours still go).

    The Pedantic Petanquist: I have played both tournament course Bocce and Extreme Bocce (no course, played on a lawn (or field, or whatever)). Extreme Bocce is better and the larger balls don’t get lost in the grass. Do your little balls get lost in the grass?

  7. My only wish of technology is to build a Rosie Robot just like the Jetsons had. I was thinking about Rosie the other day when I was scrubbing the bathroom. When is it going to be the future?

  8. () –

    Today was Extreme Bocce, played on a bumpy church lawn.

    As for getting lost in the grass, grass knows to get out of the way when a petanque sphere of raging steel rips through on its way to a score.

  9. Ah, yes! Collossus: The Forbin Project. I sometimes think of this one as Collusus’s “mini-me”.

    I went to the 1964-65 New York world’s fair, saw the future and…it turned out not to have happened.

    I’m certainly no expert on computers, but I noticed certain things through the years.

    My father got commisioned in 1952, abd what with the UNIVAC and ENIAC things in the news, an “electronic brain” was very much on the public mind.
    A gentleman came to our quarters shortly after my father put on his bars and was selling IBM stock. He touted the computers, said this was the future.
    During WWII ,y father had been the master gunner in a 90mm gun battalion. It was his job to figure out the firing solutions for all the guns. Indirect fire in support, direct fire against German armor, and anti aircraft fire. He had to figure out fuze settings using the speed of approaching aircraft, their suspected altitude,even weather conditions. He did this using slide rules, math, set firing tables, and pencil and paper.
    They got radar which helped, then they got “firing computers” which slaved the guns to the radar and would figure out the solution and fire the guns automatically. Well…sometimes…maybe…
    These things were in four big (for the day) trailors, and they would for various reasons “go into a slew”, or as we say now, crash.
    This meant that my father had to very quickly (and he usually had already started as a backup) manually figure out a firing solution in a very short time and hope the guns could be UN slaved (a somewhat lengthy process) and firing before it was too late.
    With this experience rather fresh in his mind, he declined to buy the profferred IBM stock. He did, in fact, laugh about it later.

    B 29s had a tracking computer as well so that if a gunner had a target in his sight an appropriate gun would track it and fire. These “crashed”, too, and a brother of my Japanese aunt actually shot down a B 29 because that happened.

    In the 1970’s I worked in the army air traffic control school as an instructor and we had a radar simulator which used an NCR 5 computer, had this humungous equipment, and as the building fire marshal I had to take a special course on what to do, and more particularly what NOT to do in case of a fire.
    I’m told the same job can be done better using something like I’m using now, at single digit percentages of the cost back then. If the thing went down, the clock started running at $250 an hour from the time the tech office picked up the phone to say, “we’re on our way”.

    Are implants to use an internet next? Bio computers?

  10. It never ceases to amaze me that a fifteen dollar pocket calculator from TI or Casio works so much better than ENIAC and a modern graphing calculator makes ENIAC et al look like idiots. Hell, they make me look like an idiot! (no no no you guys…)

  11. …when I was a Sophomore in high school … my parents bought me a computer.
    I’m a little older than you. When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents bought me an abacus. Amazingly, it still works, even without any upgrades.

  12. I bought an abacus in Japan after I was wounded, and my wife used it for years to do the bills and household accounts..

    Does anyone remember those things that you could get in about any supermarket check out line or five and dime? They had several sliding columns which enabled one to multiply, subtract, and add, either Pascal or DeCarte invented the thing. I still have one, and when I take it to civil air patrol meetings the kids are fascinated by it.

    In 1964 an uncle who was an engineer at PENDOT(if that’s what they called it then, I lived in Virginia) came to visit and he had a really interesting thing, a pocket calculator. It subtracted, added, multiplied, and did guzintas. No memory, no other feature, had nixies and no LED or liquid crystal. He got it a year before they were available to the public, paid over $400 for it.

    Can you even FIND any such a thing today?

  13. Wife, reading over my shoulder, asked about our Babbage Difference Engine.

    We don’t have one, says I.

    She says, the way the attic and basement are, how can you tell?

    Well…maybe it’s with the hyrax alleged to be in the cellar.

  14. A precursor to the abacus was the Chinese counting board. I forget now how it works, but the middle row is the add/subtract row (if you subtract, you use the black pieces), the top row being your starting value and the bottom row the total. I made this almost 2 years ago on my current computer which is now officially a dinosaur, its architecture extinct. Furthermore, in my work, a 2 year old computer is usually considered worth little more than a doorstop, so I’ll probably have to purchase a new MacPro later this year.

    My first computer was a C64, and I even used it to go “online”. Back before the intertubes, where people would host their own “site”, a BBS or bulletin board, I’d chat with people and trade stuff (games mostly). Very primitive back then. The technological advances didn’t start to come until the porn industry saw potential in it all. The rest, as they say, is history. 😉

  15. In elementary school (Grand Canyon Elementary School in Arizona) we learned how to use an abacus in (I think) third grade.

    Clarke (it may have been a different author, but Clarke sticks in my mind) wrote a short story about an exploratory space mission in which the computer went down. The crew fashioned an abacus out of spare parts and were able to calculate burn times and orbits. Don’t remember the name of it and I don’t think its in my library.

  16. We still have a Tandy 8K RAM computer. I took it in to CAP and along with the slide thingee and it really gets their interest. It doesn’t do much, and you have to WORK to get it to do that.

  17. Wow, abacuses…that takes me back.
    Anyway, as someone who works in a library. I’ve always been fascinated by predictions about the future. One thing I think we can count on in the next 25 years of computer development, though, is re-learning every single program we use regularly at least twelve times as the old versions get replaced by “updates” that do the same thing, but require three times the number of steps.

  18. Damn that Exterminator. He stole my joke.

    I wanted to say that when I was in high school, I was happy to get a new slide rule. But Noooooooooooooooooooooo. Ex has to top that.

    Well, he is older than dirtme.

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