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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the pentium-80-how-I-miss-you dept.

The Internet 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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yup (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144651)

Those were the days....when it took 30 minutes to load a porn site

Re:yup (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144701)

Now the porn is available on demand but it takes 30 minutes to load up my schlong :(

Re:yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144731)

That'll only get better with time. Nanotech's going gangbusters these days.

Re:yup (4, Interesting)

Vorghagen (1154761) | about 2 years ago | (#39144703)

And there weren't even any videos.

Re:yup (5, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | about 2 years ago | (#39144763)

"In my day, we didn't have videos. We got ASCII pinups on 132 column green-bar! That's the way it was, and we liked it! We loved it!"

Re:yup (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#39144959)

Slashdot's junk character filter prevents me from posting this: http://www.asciipr0n.com/pr0n/pinups/pinup09.txt [asciipr0n.com]

Eh (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#39144653)

Eh. There's not much of a difference. We're still using the same hardware and architecture as 1995. Heck, I can run the same OS on a computer made in 1995, or in 2012. Yeah, hard drives are bigger, and Intel's chips are faster, and yeah, PC's have a bit more RAM, but other than that, it's just more of the same. If anything, I'm amazed at how little computers have changed in the past 18 years.

Re:Eh (5, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | about 2 years ago | (#39144693)

it's just more of the same.

Yes, but the difference has consequences. Capabilities have increased by a factor of a thousand or more in several areas. This has made certain things practical--such as effectively removing these resources as important limiting factors on most programs. In addition, it has made areas previously almost impossible because of these limitations--such as complex digital video editing on a normal microcomputer.

Not to mention playing video of good quality on a normal microcomputer.

Re:Eh (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#39144981)

Sure, there are some outliers in terms of improved capabilities, like video editing and even watching TV. But 90% of us are using PC's the 90% of the same way now that we did in 1995: Working with MS Office documents, handling email, web surfing, moving around files, etc. It may be prettier, easier, and faster, but it isn't dramatically different.

Re:Eh (4, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | about 2 years ago | (#39145051)

This has made certain things practical--such as ...

Such as using unsuitable or bad algorithms, wasting enormous amounts of memory, disk space and bandwidth on trivial tasks, using layer upon layer of badly structured APIs and on top of that a browser with an interpreted language running software we use daily (like gmail). Who would have thought it possible back then?

Re:Eh (5, Insightful)

PsyberS (1356021) | about 2 years ago | (#39144783)

True, things may be only a thousand or so faster/larger than 18 years ago. This might sound like slow progress, until you also realize that progress was made in other vectors such as physical size and power consumption. You do realize that the tiny smartphone in your pocket is significantly better than the humongous desktop PC of 1995, right?

Re:Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144791)

Well - considering there is an OS that dictates the borders of the central hardware that can be used it is not so surprising.

Before the time this OS got his dominance very interesting developments where on the way. As an example: think about the RISC processor. It was developed by the guys at Acorn to run their RISC-OS. Today that is unthinkable. There are very little computers sold without the named OS, and that promotes stagnation...

Things are a bit different with tablets (but not much), but I am inclined to think that stagnation will set in the same moment the named OS "infects" the tablet word. Thinking about it - it is already starting. You kown - the OS that won't boot on a tablet with the "right" hardware (that prevents other OS-es as a "happy" side effect). Welcome to stagnation... again....

Re:Eh (1)

sosume (680416) | about 2 years ago | (#39144947)

"the OS that won't boot on a tablet with the "right" hardware (that prevents other OS-es as a "happy" side effect)"
I take it you are talking about OSX/iOS?

Re:Eh (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#39145005)

> There are very little computers sold without the named OS, and that promotes stagnation

In other tab, I'm reading an article titled "Smartphone Sales To Beat PC Sales By 2011".

Ad in iPads, and there's big operating systems - Windows, OSX, and Android. Oh, and Linux is supreme in the server world.

Actually, I don't use my OS for anything. I use git, vim, a web browser, virtualbox, rsync, Nginx, Postgres, Redis, and Python. The OS just keeps these programs separate. If I have to use the OS for anything other than apt-getting a program, chowning a file, or SUDOing a process, I feel like I've lost. Actually, I feel like I've lost most of the times I chown or sudo.

Re:Eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144817)

Do you realize that toilet paper has not changed in my lifetime? It's just paper on a cardboard roll, that's it. And in ten thousand years, it will still be exactly the same because really, what else can they do?

Re:Eh (1)

macs4all (973270) | about 2 years ago | (#39145027)

Do you realize that toilet paper has not changed in my lifetime? It's just paper on a cardboard roll, that's it. And in ten thousand years, it will still be exactly the same because really, what else can they do?

The Three Shells.

Re:Eh (4, Funny)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 2 years ago | (#39145039)

Bidets my anonymous friend! You haven't experienced high culture until you've had a warm jet of water shot between your ass-cheeks and a nice, gentle breeze across your recently wetted-and-washed rear end!

Re:Eh (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#39144841)

Between broadband internet, 3d acceleration, dual monitors, and a stable multi-tasking OS, I have NFI what you're talking about.

-Sent from a smartphone that is far superior to the machine I had in 95

Re:Eh (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 2 years ago | (#39145023)

Eh. There's not much of a difference. We're still using the same hardware and architecture as 1995.

(Modulo, for most of us, 32 extra bits, 8 extra registers, and a PC-relative addressing mode.)

Re:Eh (5, Interesting)

headLITE (171240) | about 2 years ago | (#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:Eh (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145107)

Bigger hard drives, faster chips, and 'a bit more RAM' are considerable understatements.

Omit all the other niceties and another way to say that is a 1,000+ times more storage, 500+ times the RAM and lord knows how you'd start to figure processing capability with ridiculous clock speeds, multiple cores, various efficiencies, etc. And that's pretty standard.

Start working out the on-demand resources available to you for pennies and the advancement is far more impressive still. Anyone can crush a 1995 world's fastest supercomputer for less than a handful of change from your coin jar.

To me, a more impressive thing to consider is that we now kick around with better devices than the Star Trek tablets of TNG. We don't even think of how amazing it is that your grandmother or child might own and operate one of these devices like it's no big deal.

Now consider that most of all this touch and voice controlled computing wizardry is probably also in that inexpensive device you keep in your pocket.

So no, we don't have wires hanging out of our brains yet, but I'd say we've got quite a lot accomplished.

News for Nerds? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144657)

Wait, what? Computers have orders of magnitude more speed and capacity today than they did 17 years ago? Awesome! This is definitely good "News for Nerds".

A bit outdated (1, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 2 years ago | (#39144663)

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.

Re:A bit outdated (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#39144761)

I do recall that CRT monitors were for a very long time much cheaper than LCD/TFT screens. And for an even longer time faster (especially in refresh rates). Also CRT never really came down in price - stayed more or less the same, as materials/manufacturing/transportation are the bulk of their cost.

Indeed back in the days 17" was not expensive, back in 1995 I was using 15" already. I got a cheap second-hand one, a few years old, excellent condition. And early 2000s switched to a flat screen one.

A 24" CRT is still massive. Never ceased to be massive. I mean, ever tried to lift such a beast? You may have had to reinforce your desk before putting one of those on it! That huge chunk of glass just won't get any lighter, no matter what.

Windows 95 vs Windows 7 (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#39144667)

Windows 95 came with a 3d capture the flag game and a Weezer music video. Windows 7? Nope.

Therefore, computers in 1995 were better.

Re:Windows 95 vs Windows 7 (1, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39144843)

Ironically, Windows 95 didn't come out until 1996

Re:Windows 95 vs Windows 7 (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#39144863)

Nevermind, I was wrong about that. First service pack was 1996.

Re:Windows 95 vs Windows 7 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144899)

That's OK. This is Slashdot. You'll be modded up to +5, Informative, anyway.

Re:Windows 95 vs Windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144923)

And look at RAM... double the ram made a "dramatic difference". Now we have windows 7 which is a RAM junkie and people buy double ram just for kicks, it doesn't matter how much you have, W7 and Firefox eat it all!

Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (5, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39144675)

For me, the most dramatic example of the progress of hardware in the intervening years is Emacs.

It used to be regarded as a heavyweight editing environment, comparable in scope and resource requirements to a full programmer's IDE. There was even a special server designed just to allow several editing windows (aka frames) to coexist.

Now, it's so lightweight and fast to load up, my web browser launches a completely independent Emacs for each comment field in a web page, my MUA launches its own Emacs for writing mails, I have multiple independent Emacs processes for editing code, and another for writing LaTeX.

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (-1, Troll)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | about 2 years ago | (#39144715)

You'd think with all the advances we'd made in technology, someone would have figured out emacs sucks by now.

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144735)

That may be the nerdiest thing I've read all day. Do you eat things that come off your feet, by any chance?

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144823)

The thing that surprises me isn't that there are many differences between now and 17 years ago, but that there are so few meaningful differences between now and 10 years ago. Other than the hardware form factor, the main significant difference is that the internet has so much more content (which isn't really an improvement in home computers themselves). The OS upgrades generally have stayed in the continuum of minor to annoying.

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (2)

nightfell (2480334) | about 2 years ago | (#39144855)

I was going to make a pithy comment about the way you're using modern hardware to run emacs all over the place, but I just can't bring myself to do it. You've already suffered enough.

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39145097)

There's a perfectly rational explanation for my madness :)

One of the things that infuriates people who like GUIs is when Cut'n'Paste doesn't work properly in some applications. Even when it works, the data transfers through cut and paste depend a lot on what an application will recognize or let you copy. E.g. you might copy an image from the web browser and yet you can't insert it as a background for your music player.

I'm the same way with editing text. Nearly every application requires some text input somewhere, and the ways the native text fields work are slightly (or a lot) different in each application. By using Emacs everywhere possible, I can have a uniform editing experience that improves the overall UI a lot. I can spell check a slashdot post without needing a special module in my browser or my MUA, I can move forward/backward by single characters, words, sentences, or paragraphs, I have automatic saving in case of an application crash, load/save from external files, syntax coloring which adapts to the content type and macro capability in *all* the applications I regularly use, and it all works the *same* way everywhere.

Re:Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#39145085)

Everytime I hear somebody talking about emacs/vi I think to myself: "I have to learn that finally". Though, I always say that about Dwarf Fortress and Nethack, too.

I had four megabytes and it was pretty (4, Informative)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 2 years ago | (#39144677)

My 486 only had four megabytes of RAM. I had to reboot and bypass CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT to run Doom. The reason? My mouse driver took up too much memory. And this was in DOS, where you only had three or four drivers to begin with.

(Before any other old folks ask -- I already had other drivers in upper memory so the mouse driver wouldn't fit there.)

Re:I had four megabytes and it was pretty (3, Informative)

Zarhan (415465) | about 2 years ago | (#39144699)

Doom used a DOS extender. As such, you could pretty much have all your drivers in base memory without any of that UMB mangling.

Ultima VII and the Voodoo Memory Management (http://ultima.wikia.com/wiki/Voodoo_Memory_Manager) on the other hand....required a lots of base memory and you really couldn't run anything like EMM386 reliably. Was...interesting to get Ultima VII working with 2MBs of RAM.

DOS startup menus (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#39144709)

Doom was a lot easier to run than games that used earlier DOS extenders.

Remember Zone 66? Just to run Zone 66's crazy DOS extender I had to use a config.sys menu [rsvs.net] to boot into a separate configuration that only loaded my sound driver but not the memory manager. Total pain to set up.

Re:I had four megabytes and it was pretty (1)

Dwedit (232252) | about 2 years ago | (#39144819)

I think the real problem is that CuteMouse hadn't been written yet.
Sometimes you may have been able to get away with another compatible mouse driver that used less memory.

Too bad software didn't follow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144679)

It's amasing how the hardware guys just keep making faster, bigger and cheaper machines, and we software guys write more kludgier, more bloated, more slower software, that fucks up all their efforts. ( The biggest villain in all of this -- Microsoft, Adobe ). Yers we've added some ( more colors--though less resolution ) but not enough to compensated for the extra demands on hardware.

Maybe with more emphasis on llllllllsmartphones, netbooks and tablets which provide less resources, we will have to clean up our act. THough I really doubt MS will.

It did, it just followed too closely. (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#39144787)

Software followed hardware closely enough to soak up all the advances in compute power, and sometimes and then some.

Kirk McKusick likes to say "the number of MIPS delivered to the keyboard has remained constant since 1978".

The other one I like is "An elephant is a mouse with an operating system", which is a paraphrase of Robert Heinlein putting words into the mouth of his character Lazarus Long.

-- Terry

Internet, Software and Hardware (1)

Xolve (2527602) | about 2 years ago | (#39144681)

Internet connection was an `option' which is not anymore these days. Also programs (OS and applications) are more seamless when you compare it with the '95 computers. Obviously in terms of CPU, RAM and storage its light years worth of leap.

Re:Internet, Software and Hardware (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 years ago | (#39144741)

Internet connection was an `option' which is not anymore these days.

Heh. The other day, I helped a friend set up his new USB wireless modem on his laptop. When he plugged it in, the ISP's app loaded automatically but Windows 7 couldn't recognize the hardware, and brought up a window to search for a driver on the internet, ...

1995 computers were better for flight sims (4, Interesting)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

1995 computers were worse for real flight sims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144751)

As someone who deals with a FRASCA flight simulator from the mid 90s, a brand new Alsim and a bunch of others, I can confidently say the computer running the FRASCA from mid nineties is the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen.

Re:1995 computers were better for flight sims (0, Troll)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39144767)

Xwing vs TieFighter style combat in an MMO context where you can upgrade your ship.

Welcome to EVE Online [eve-online.com] .

Re:1995 computers were better for flight sims (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#39144897)

That has nothing at all similar to Xwing vs TieFighter style combat.

Re:1995 computers were better for flight sims (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144913)

I've tried EVE, but unless they changed things recently combat was the standard MMO "select enemy, automatically attack, periodically use special attacks or items, move on to next enemy", instead of any actual dog-fighting.

Re:1995 computers were better for flight sims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144891)

I'm not aware of any modern flight sims that default to an out of cockpit view. Lots of arcade-y Air Combat Games, but not flight sims. Red Baron's campaign was neat, but try Rise of Flight for your WWI fix. Try the Wings of Power or IL-2 Sturmovik games for WWII. And for Cold War era fighters, I'm partial to Falcon 4.0 Allied Force.

There aren't as many adventure games as there used to be, but there are still some. Telltale has the Sam and Max and Monkey Island series, for instance.

Back in my Day (1)

mattydont (849321) | about 2 years ago | (#39144685)

I got my First computer when i was 8 in 97, i think my family paid about $2000AUD for it, being a 200mhz pentium with mmx, 32mb RAM, 2gb HDD 2mb S3 Video creative labs sound card, 17in CRT monitor and windows 95 PLUS!!! that thing lasted for about 5 or so years before it finally died from sea air causing rust. Used to play Age of empires and everything for years never had to update it to play a game, hell it even played MW3 (Mechwarrior 3), You never forget your first....

Three orders of magnitude (5, Interesting)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about 2 years ago | (#39144687)

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:Three orders of magnitude (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#39144723)

Yep. And if you go with the informal version of Moore's law, "X doubles every year and a half" where X is just about any measure of computer capability, we're still almost on track. 2^10 = 1024, as /.er should know by heart; strictly speaking, this should mean about a thousandfold improvement between 1995 and 2010 rather than 2012, but everything you list was available two years ago, if at a somewhat higher price. And yes, X may just as well be boot time as RAM or processing power. ;)

Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | about 2 years ago | (#39144729)

On what planet? The computer in my house that takes the longest to boot is my wife's Intel Atom. It goes from power button to useable in 30s.

My laptop is an i3, it goes from power button to useable in ~11s.

Re:Three orders of magnitude (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145049)

My Commodore 64 out of the stoneage, goes from powerbutton to useable in ~ 0.8 Seconds.

Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

six025 (714064) | about 2 years ago | (#39144757)

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

For the average PC / Mac user, sure, but not with SSD for the system disk. Consistent boot times of about 15 seconds here on a 2011 MBP.


Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#39144797)

32 GB flash drives are now pretty common and at roughly the same $/GB as 16 GB units . In the last month i have bought a 32 GB micro SD, and (2) 32 GB flash drives all at or below $1/GB. 64 GB and 128 GB units are also already available at retail., just not as common and the pricing scales fast.

Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#39144869)


    I just built out a 4 Ghz 8 core machine with 16GB RAM and a pair of 1.5TB drives for right about $600.

    I recall back in '91 my 486DX/33 with 4MB RAM cost somewhere in the ballpark of what you cited ($2,500).

    Boot times are relative. My Linux machine with everything I don't need removed boots faster than the 486 with DOS, Desqview, and a fairly dirty config.sys and autoexec.bat. :) You can make anything boot slow if you try hard enough.

Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

vrt3 (62368) | about 2 years ago | (#39144939)

1024x768 then (IIRC), 1920x1280 now (from 0.78 megapixels to 2.46 megapixels, not even one order of magnitude!)

Re:Three orders of magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144961)

My standard is always that for many years it was $1,200 for 32 meg of ram. You can now get 32 gig for a quarter of that. People complain that computers are too expensive and I say are you crazy! Your iPhone has a 100X the power of my first computer and that was 25 years ago. I used to spend $1,200 to $4,500 for a computer which would buy you enough iPads for the whole family.

Re:Three orders of magnitude (0)

jovius (974690) | about 2 years ago | (#39145075)

Lossless Red Book Audio 1411 kbit/s then, 256 kbit/s lossy mp3/aac/etc now...

Re:Three orders of magnitude (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#39145095)

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

That depends on the OS and hardware. Linux+SSD is 4 seconds to GDM (don't you dare say something!). Though, the Windows XP on the 2TB Western Digital is also fast with around 20 seconds to Desktop...there's only Steam installed, though.

Still using a CD/DVD player? (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144793)

DVD players are still useful for ripping Netflix/Redbox movies.

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#39144801)

I use one on a daily basis. Sure some people have phased them out or use them little, but I would never own a machine without one form of optical media.

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144839)

I use one on a daily basis. Sure some people have phased them out or use them little, but I would never own a machine without one form of optical media.

..... never?

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144845)

Yes, CD/DVD/BluRay is normal. It wasn't until a year or so ago that writable BluRay drives were available for a relatively inexpensive price for desktops. I use them to backup pictures, downloaded songs, personal files, etc. for offsite storage at my sister's place. I also back these up to an external hard-drive. Yes, I could use a cloud service such as Carbonite, but I just don't trust them to keep my data safe from hackers, etc.

US and Canada has a lower penetration of mobile phone usage because it is expensive to extend coverage into low population density areas due to how vast the countries are. Thus, coverage is very good along both coasts of the US, but hit and miss in between. Europe has a much higher cell phone use due to a much larger density of population throughout much smaller countries. I'm willing to bet that you can go just about anywhere in Europe and get a cell signal. However, I can't get a signal in my apartment, in the Boston area, unless I am next to my patio door.

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144933)

For a desktop computer, an optical drive is normal. Usually a DVD, instead of a BluRay drive; DVD drives can be had, retail, for under $20. It doesn't cost much to put one in the system, and anyone who actually goes into a store and buys software is going to need an optical drive to install it. A lot of laptops still have optical drives, too.

I still burn CDs and DVDs - my car, and my parents' car, will both play CDs of MP3s. I find it irritating they won't handle DVDs of MP3s, but hey. These are base-model stereos in reasonably new cars. I burn DVDs because frankly, if I want to watch a video file on the big TV it's easier to burn a video DVD than try to figure out what formats the Xbox 360 can play and how to get it onto a drive it can read, since for some dumb reason the 360 can't read NTFS, so no big movie files. (I don't have networking in the living room.)

And while I certainly don't back up my entire hard drive to optical disc, I do burn periodic backups of the actual important stuff - emails, documents, stuff I can't just redownload or reinstall. Yes, I have an automated backup to a network storage, but that's still on-site. My sister and I mail each other backup discs to store for each other, so if we lose ALL our crapola we can still get important data back.

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#39145081)

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

Obsolete implies useless or completely not needed. While I myself haven't used a CD/DVD in my computer for a while I guarantee last time I formatted the thing there was a Windows CD in there. Sure there are alternatives out there. The ability to put the install of Windows or Linux on a USB stick doesn't change the fact that the number one distribution method for an OS is still on optical media.

Also I only just bought a Bluray player to stick in my media centre.

Rarely used perhaps, but for the most part many people are still dependant on it. Even if you buy certain common laptops these days the first thing it asks you to do when you power it on is insert some blank media so it can make a recovery image.

This hardly can be considered "obsolete".

Re:Still using a CD/DVD player? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#39145099)

Basically you have to include a CD burner for the one time you have to make a recovery disk.

Something that, for most laptops, should indeed be just that one time. Or maybe one or two times more just to restore your OS. A bit expensive, don't you think? And all that extra weight you have to lug around...

I'm still wondering what it is about Windows that it still can not use a USB thumb drive for that, like all Linux distributions do. Or why that software is still not sold over the Internet (and then I mean as download - not as mail order).

Linux and Virtualization on a Mac 18 years ago (4, Interesting)

monzie (729782) | about 2 years ago | (#39144773)

I was 14 years old in 1994
I had a Macintosh LC 475 [everymac.com] back then. It had a 25 Mhz Motorola 68040 CPU [wikipedia.org] and had come pre-installed with Microsoft Virtual PC for the Mac [microsoft.com] which emulated x86 architecture on the Motorola 68040.
A magazine called PCQuest [ciol.com] ( 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. [slashdot.org] ( 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

Cute article, but a little bit inaccurate. (2)

BeShaMo (996745) | about 2 years ago | (#39144781)

33 mhz would have been low end back then, 66 mhz or 120 probably more likely in a new computer (in Late 1995 I got a pretty beefy 150mhz Pentium). While 4ghz is probably very high end by today's standard (people tend to get more cores rather than more hz). Soundcard, not many people get a high end soundcard like the one listed, the real equivalent to the SB 16 is probably the onboard sound cards. A highend Adlib soundcanvas or Roland could probably stand up to today's highend cards in terms of sound quality, although pricewise, highend cards are more affordable today.

I'm too young (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144789)

Maybe I'm just too young, but I didn't own my first computer until after 2000(born in 1991). My cousins use to have an Apple II and some Windows 95 computer with "The Oregon Trail". (with one of those weird printers where you had the holes on the sides). I was more curious about the Apple II at the time than the PC though. The green text called to me. This was probably about 1998 or 1997. Oddly enough, they ended up giving the Apple II to me years later (2010), after I had already been programming in C for years. I think I would've been a lot better at programming if they would've given me the Apple II a lot earlier in my life (they never used it anyway because "it was old")

Anyway, first computer was a Gateway. 40G harddrive, 48X CD-ROM. Windows 2000 Profressional. Pentium 3 1.3Ghz. 4 USB 1.0 ports. onboard sound and video. Two COM ports and a parallel port. 2 PCI ports for expansion, and a whopping 256Mb of RAM. I still have it, though it now runs OpenBSD and the original harddrive even still works, though I've lost track of which machine it's in. And also, most intuitive case design I've ever seen in a non-self-built computer. All you had to do to install a harddrive is open the case(they provided a spring loaded lever mechanism for easy opening), slide the harddrive into the case(no need to unplug anything as the slots are facing out to where the case opens), and push down a lever to lock it in place, and finally plug it in. I've been searching for years for a similar case design where the harddrives don't need special rails or screws installed... still haven't found one

Re:I'm too young (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145043)

Tractor feed printer. Still the best way to handle logging of system errors for systems that you really really need to know what's happening on :)

I've still got one in my room, but haven't gotten around to buying a new cartridge for it in 10+ years. Man those things were noisy, but did they ever work well :)

When i think back, i am deeply diaspplointed. (1, Interesting)

drolli (522659) | about 2 years ago | (#39144835)

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)

Lessee, 1995 (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#39144853)

I was probably still using a 386 SX/16 with 4mb of RAM. Installed OS/2 on it and it actually worked reasonably well. After a while I installed Linux on it. Early slakware. That also worked reasonably well except it didn't have enough graphics prowess to actually run X11 in VGA. I just used terminal mode. It was fine. Ran slirp for PPP off Florida's gate.net and did a lot of MUDDing.

I eventually upgraded from that system to a dual 486/66 with 16 MB of RAM and an S3 video card. That thing was a beast. Ran X11 great in 1280x1024. Played a lot of Quake on that machine. My phone has now has more processing power than that system did.

Can you imagine if the same happened for cars? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144865)

If today we had 30000 MPG per gallon cars, now we would look back at the days when they only did 30 MPG.
Of course that is against the laws of physics, but it is mind boggling to compare the progress of computer with other ordinary machines.

Comparing todays computer to last weeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39144871)

This one has more porn on it

Only 24-bit in 1995? We've come a long way. (1)

danpbrowning (149453) | about 2 years ago | (#39144875)

I love the column on video, where the 1995 columns says "24-bit", and the 2012 column...oh wait, we're still 24-bit. Everything else has advanced by several orders of magnitude, but we're still limited to just 8 bits per color channel (RGB = 24 bits in total) going out over the DVI cable (and the display itself). Sure, now you can drop a few G's on a 10-bit (30 total) monitor (if your software can even make use of it), but it's kind of sad that progress has been so slow.

Re:Only 24-bit in 1995? We've come a long way. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#39144925)

More than 8 bits per channel is simply not important for output, internal memory support for HDR matters but there just isn't a need for higher color, especially since things like color tempurature of the display mean no image looks the same unless on a fully calibrated system

Re:Only 24-bit in 1995? We've come a long way. (2)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | about 2 years ago | (#39144957)

I love the column on video, where the 1995 columns says "24-bit", and the 2012 column...oh wait, we're still 24-bit. Everything else has advanced by several orders of magnitude, but we're still limited to just 8 bits per color channel (RGB = 24 bits in total) going out over the DVI cable (and the display itself). Sure, now you can drop a few G's on a 10-bit (30 total) monitor (if your software can even make use of it), but it's kind of sad that progress has been so slow.

What's worse, human vision is still limited to about 10 million nuances and can't even take advantage of 24 bits. Time for an upgrade!

Faster, bigger. Better? (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#39144885)

Of course computers have N times the speed and memory. Regarding computer science concepts and algorithms, where is the real progress in that field? Most of the concepts used today were designed before 1995 - and a lot of them even before the modern computers ever existed.
CPU and memory is a confortable progress - but is not a revolution. Still to come.

My first computer (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | about 2 years ago | (#39144893)

might as well have another one of these threads, it's been a few years since the last one I think...

Acorn Atom circa 1980 ish. 12KB of RAM with the expansion pack. No storage at all (you could link to a tape recorder to very slowly store and recall data). No display (it plugged via a PAL lead into a TV). BASIC language and operating system fitted into a 2K ROM module if I remember correctly. I still have it on my shelf but haven't been able to plug it into a power source or TV for years.

Something else (1)

no-body (127863) | about 2 years ago | (#39144915)

Comparing one of today's desktop boxes with a mainframe from way back, IBM 360

30 M disk packs a room filling 1 M core memory rack and - 8" floppies

Performance data compare would be interesting.

Printers (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#39144973)

Printers are still just as bad. Lame ink-jets that are prone to clogging, waste 50% of the cartridge on overspill and cleaning cycles, chew through expensive paper...

Re:Printers (1)

peppepz (1311345) | about 2 years ago | (#39145109)

But they cost less; back then I paid something like 300 $ for a 300 DPI ink-jet printer, which took minutes to print a single page, and required the user to replace its print head to switch between colour and B&W printing. Oh, and it included a mechanical ink pump to clear its nozzles.

Now I can buy an inkjet multifunction with a much higher print quality for less than half that price. Or I can buy a laser colour printer for 120 $: this would have been unimaginable in the 90s.

What about games? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145013)

What surprises me is that most of the older games from around this era have yet to be rivalled even today. Nevermind the fact that games back then didn't have EULAs, DRM restrictions, or DLC. You got what you paid for, and that came in a full sized box adorned with awesome artwork- and on the inside, you got a CD in a jewel case and a manual as thick as your thumb.

We had gems like Descent, Descent II, Command and Conquer, Warcraft 1, Warcraft 2, Tyrian, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, Duke Nukem 3D, Crusader: No Remorse and Crusader: No Regret, Mass Destruction, Wipeout (the original Psygnosis game was a MS-DOS release- it ran straight off the CD and had an absolutely awesome soundtrack from Cold Storage), Star Wars: Dark Forces, X-Com, SimCity 2000, etc.

Just after that era we got gems like C&C: Red Alert, Total Annihilation, and Starcraft.

Not a single game had any kind of grinding wankery in the form of "achievements" or "trophies". You bought a game, you got 10 to 20 hours of entertainment in a box. It was that simple.

Today, you're lucky if: A) $69.99 gets you something even remotely worth playing (since demos and shareware are long forgotten), and B) maybe 2 hours of actual entertainment wrapped in 20 hours of fucking around in a giant sandbox to boost some stupid number so you can proceed with the main quests/missions. Oh, and you don't actually "own" games anymore. You're licensing them, they only work 5 times (if you're lucky), and the disks often come in paper envelopes publishers have gotten so goddam cheap.

But hey, EA's releasing the next big version of MW or CoD! So whoopie! Nevermind the fact that they've driven Westwood Studios and Origin into the ground, and now they've done the same to Maxis and have focused their attention on Bioware. CRANK THAT FRANCHISE WHORING FACTORY TO FULL THROTTLE BOYS, WE HAVE CONSUMERS TO EXPLOIT!


Vim users would feel at home... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145025)

In those days you could say "Emacs stands for `Eight Megs And Continually Swapping`" and people would actually laugh.

4GB (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39145113)

4GB is not 4000MB, dumbass.

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