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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's 461

An anonymous reader writes "A look back at two articles from 1995, touting high end computers and 'must haves.' How times have changed... ...'Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don't buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.'"
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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's

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  • A bit outdated (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:00AM (#39144663) Homepage Journal

    The article is a bit outdated, but I mean that in the opposite sense of it reporting computer stats from 1995. It seems a bit a year out of date on its stats. Am I nitpicking? Sure.

    The 28.8 modem was introduced in 1994, and I recall it being in fairly wide use by summer 1994. Likewise, 17" monitors were not unusual or prohibitively expensive back then. I had a decent enough 17" that ran maybe $300 or so. The Apple repair tech knocked it off my table, and I ended up with a really nice 17" Sony CRT and a massive (for the time) 24" monitor for my troubles. Ended up selling the 24" for a thousand bucks or so to pay rent, kept the Sony, and fixed the Shamrock.

    Likewise, I had a Power Mac 6100 at the time, which released in 1994, but had a lot of the "upgrade recommended" features they listed for 1995. 8MB RAM standard, 72MB maximum, etc. 500MB HD though, which was a bit light. But it had built-in ethernet, which was an amazing experience in the dorms after living in dialup land for all of high school.

    I got nostalgic for all the good times I had on that machine a while back, and reinstalled Marathon (which is available free now). You know what they say, though: you just can never go back to keyboard look.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:03AM (#39144683)
    I'm saying this not because the power was so good, but because nothing compares to Red Baron, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, and Xwing. EA/Bioware could have scored big with SWTOR by using Xwing vs TieFighter style combat in an MMO context where you can upgrade your ship. Instead the space combat is a gimmick and the game is barely an MMO with so few people on each server.

    What if they brought back Stunt Island as Stunt Island 2? Allow people to autoshare videos on Youtube. Allow people to share/rate missions like they do on Little Big Planet. Have multiplayer with watchers/chatters. Have car racing too if you want to go all out.

    Maybe I'm not in the mix anymore, but when I played some modern flight sims they showed an out of cockpit view and you just flew around using the mouse. Maybe someone could point me to where the good competitive gaming flight sims are that I am not aware of?

    Another thing we're missing from the early/mid 90s is adventure games, but I don't miss them any further than I can get without the blue key.
  • by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:05AM (#39144687) Journal

    8 MB then, 8 GB now
    1 GB then, 1 TB now
    33 MHz then, 3 GHz quad-core now
    0.0288 mbps internet then, 1-10 mbps now (only two orders)
    600 MB CD-ROM then, 45 GB BluRay now (only two orders)
    1.4 MB floppy then, 16 GB Flash drive now (four)

    Price: (not in TFA): Probably $2500 then, around $750 today.

    And yet, I'm betting that the 1995 machine boots faster than the 2012 machine...

  • Re:yup (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vorghagen ( 1154761 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:09AM (#39144703)
    And there weren't even any videos.
  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:10AM (#39144707)

    I noted the article still thinks a CD/DVD/BluRay player is normal. Aren't they obsolete already?

    It's been five years or more since I had a working DVD player in any of my PCs. Except my iBook which has one built in, and that's also some six years old now, and the DVD player in it has barely been used in that time.

    I used to burn CDs with photos and so - still have some, from many years ago, and really should copy them to a USB stick or so before I really don't have a CD drive any more. I used to burn CDs for Linux installation; now that's done from USB stick. I used to burn CDs as archive as my hard disk got full. Modern hard disks are so big, they don't fill up. And if they do, the capacity of a CD-R or even DVD-R doesn't do much to solve that problem. A bigger hard disk is the only reasonable solution.

    And monitor - well I still use 15". It's good enough, and my desk isn't that big. Those also didn't come down in price as drastically as the other components did.

    What I also noticed is that in the US just 85% of adults have a mobile phone, and 90% live in a household with at least one mobile phone. I think that's a really low number. Where I live there's close to a 200% (yes, that's two phones per person, not only per adult - many people have indeed multiple mobile numbers, and many are used by regular visitors) penetration of mobile phones.

  • by monzie ( 729782 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:22AM (#39144773) Homepage
    I was 14 years old in 1994
    I had a Macintosh LC 475 [] back then. It had a 25 Mhz Motorola 68040 CPU [] and had come pre-installed with Microsoft Virtual PC for the Mac [] which emulated x86 architecture on the Motorola 68040.
    A magazine called PCQuest [] ( It was a geek-focussed magazine then; it's a CIO-focussed magazine now ) came out with Slackware on the CD. ( I cannot remember the version)
    I managed to installed Linux as a VM on my Mac 18 years ago using this. [] ( That's a link to my blog post with more details as to how I did it )
    Of course I did not know what Virtualization was. I did not have an internet connection even!
    It took me a year to get X running - just by reading the man pages and configuring modelines and hsync and vsync values
    My proudest moment was when I wrote my own man page using nroff ( IIRC ) and it showed me bold fonts in a terminal. I did not know even know what a terminal was, except that Jeff Goldblum destroyed the Aliens by uploading a computer virus through it ( Movie: Independence Day ) I am nostalgic
  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:43AM (#39144835) Journal

    When i think back to 1995 i expected a machine/os, which has/uses *lots of cores and bandwidth to ram*, where everything is reasonably multi threaded and where programs can exchange data in a reasonable, transparent way.

    Nothing came true. Application still freeze when waiting for sth, a massive CPU still has to be running to do simple background operations, we still exclude Bitmaps is text documents because nothing else works, and my CPU is still waiting for the RAM, even longer than before.

    Web applications take the thing to the next level. Some of the Web document processors are less responsive and have less features than Word/Amipro/Describe/Wordperfect in 1995. (not to say its not possible to write good web application, there are some)

  • Re:Eh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headLITE ( 171240 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:43AM (#39145045)

    The only reason you can run the same OS is that the x64 architecture supports emulation of the old 32 bit x86 architecture which supports emulation of the 16 bit architecture that came before it. Maybe you didn't notice these jumps, but they were there. There's another jump just happening, the move from magnetic hard disks to solid state disks. That's again one you don't notice unless you know about the technical difference, but it's still a pretty big difference. And yes we have more RAM, and yes that's even an example of something that's essentially still very similar to 1995 RAM, but even then, miniaturization is kind of a big deal. The chips may still work in the same way but there were huge advances in the technology that is used to produce them, which are hidden from most normal users. The basic idea of how a computer works is still the same, of course, but then, that hasn't changed in almost a century. And it probably won't change anytime soon - the next big change is probably the move to smaller, portable devices that require even less inside knowledge to operate. Maybe, ten years from now, you'll look at your phone and say "why this is so different from the computers we used to have to put up with- finally they changed something!" because the package looks different, but the overall architecture will still be the same.

  • Re:A bit outdated (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JosKarith ( 757063 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:00AM (#39145319)
    I've worked in IT support for about a decade and a half now and the move from CRT to TFT is an absolute godsend.
    My personal favourite was when someone wanted their PC under their monitor to save desk space - you had to lift 50-odd lbs of monitor and then brace it with one hand to slide the desktop underneath cos' there was no way the desktop would slide into place with the monitor resting on the top.
    When we migrated to TFT's I wrecked my back for about a week lifting all the old monitors as we got rid of them but the pain was worth it to never see those b4stards again...
  • Re:yup (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pRock85 ( 2011582 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:09AM (#39145609)
    Lucky or me I am in the golden age, where my schlong is instantly available, as is the entirety of internet porn. Seriously though, the double standard gap is closing. Women are being empowered, and are being able to watch the porn they have always wanted, now with out being judged.
  • Re:Eh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:32AM (#39145719)
    I have a Toshiba T1910 from 1994 on my desk; I found it in a cupboard after a clear out at work. 4MB RAM, monochrome screen, 200MB HDD, 486SX 25MHz processor, Windows 3.11.

    Boot time, from power on to ready-to-work (no HDD activity after boot), including a 3 second memory test, is 51 seconds. Yes, I can do a lot more with my 2GHz dual core 4GB RAM workstation (get prettier graphics, browse the internet) but this laptop has Word, Excel, Powerpoint, networking.

    I am amazed that so little has changed.
  • Re:yup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:52AM (#39147303) Journal

    This is why i think we all need to just look around and be amazed every once in awhile (no not at the porn, although I admit the new HD porn is quite impressive visually) at how far we have come. I was late getting into X86, with the VIC and Trash 80 lasting me most of the 80s so when I finally did get an X86 it was a whopping 60MHz Pentium with 8Mb of RAM, and hard drives were...what? 4200RPM? I remember them being slow as Xmas and more than a little prone to head crash and mine was a huge 200Mb. Graphics of course were 2D, I wouldn't be getting my first voodoo for another couple of years, and finally Internet was a 28k modem that frankly on a good night at 3AM you may get a quarter of that speed and had to run a background mouse program to keep the ISPs from kicking you off while you were trying to read.

    Now I type this on a computer with 6 cores at 2600MHz, I've gone from 8Mb to 8Gb on the RAM front, hell my $50 GPU has more memory and faster clocks than my first four PCs combined and the thing has 3Tb of capacity and can even run every OS I used from 81 until today at the same time! And of course laptops then were these heavy power sucking "backpack busters" as we called them and frankly if you didn't have some serious money to spend good luck getting one. Now across from me is a dual core netbook that weighs 3 pounds and cost less than my VIC and maxing it out at 8Gb of RAM cost less than i paid for the floppy for my VIC.

    So I think we should all stop and look around once in awhile at all we take for granted now because its truly amazing how fast and far we have come. Now even the machines I shitcan because they are simply too old are 10 times faster than my first X86, its truly amazing. Now most of us have crazy pipes that hardwire us instantly to the world, HD screens, surround sound, its just nuts how much we all have now.

  • by bokmann ( 323771 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:01AM (#39147435) Homepage

    When I started, I had 4K and saved programs I typed to cassette tape! The differences between then and 1995 are orders of magnitude greater than 1995 to now.

    I clearly recall the last three jaw-dropping moments:

    circa 2001, Seeing AMD beat intel to the market with a 1GHz processor
    circa 1997, being able to download a music file in less time than it took to play.
    circa 1991, seeing a postage-stamp video of the moon launch on Quicktime from the Apple Developer CD they distributed monthly.

    Other than that, its all more of the same, or far enough back in history as to be a blur.


"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor