Size Matters #1 – computers

Yesterday I was using the computer and when I opened a program – Adobe Elements, I think it was, there was one of those “Program Update” messages. Now, if I use a program very often I usually install these, but I always click on the “show Details” button first to see just what they are going to add-change-improve and the size of the update. There’s probably no need to do that, it’s just a long-held habit.

This one was for stability and smoother running (my words) so it was okay, and the update size was 32.3 MB. I clicked “INSTALL” and waited while it downloaded the files. But I got to thinking about that 32.3 MB.

These days, that’s not considered much, we see program updates of that size and larger all the time. But back about the time I went from a computer using DOS (Disk Operating System) to a 286 using Windows, the hard drive on that computer was big. Back then, no one could have imagined drives with several gigabytes, or even one and two terabyte drives.

I remember going to work and telling a couple of my friends in computer services (they would be called IT these days) about the new home computer. I listed off the stats: chip, chip speed, monitor, keyboard. But the critical numbers then – and perhaps still today – were the RAM and the hard drive size. That baby had 286k of RAM and a 40 Megabyte hard drive! Wow, 40 MB! They agreed that was great stuff. I remember thinking that with 40 MB, I’d NEVER run out of hard drive space!

You couldn’t run any of today’s programs on that kind of set-up, but at the time it was hot stuff.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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18 Responses to Size Matters #1 – computers

  1. Barbara says:

    My dad was a techie who always had to have the latest gadget, so I used to get his old computer whenever he bought a new one. Trouble was, he had thrown out all the books usually because he didn’t need them! I was always fumbling around not knowing what I had or what the latest computer would do so who knows what I missed. I’ve had my current Dell Dimension for about 10 years so it’s of course obsolete but it does the job for me, and I hate to give it up since it was the first brand new computer I ever bought.

  2. Richard says:

    Ten years is out of date, but computers are tools, just like toasters and sewing machines. If it works, great! What I find is I have to buy a new computer every so often because either program updates or a replacement piece of hardware, such as a new printer, require a newer operating system. I buy a new one every 5-6 years, usually, but know other people who buy a new one more frequently, often because they want the latest bells and whistles. I have had several Dell computers, though at this time I use a Mac.

  3. I upgrade my home computer every couple of years or so in concert with my College’s upgrade program. The College will be upgrading to WINDOWS 7 over the summer, so I’ll probably buy a new computer with WINDOWS 7 already installed. I’ve had pretty good luck with DELL computers.

  4. Richard says:

    I wonder, if you didn’t have to match the college’s bi-annual upgrades, would you buy a new one so often? It takes me almost a year just to memorize and learn the ins-and-outs of an OS, I don’t think I’d want to do it every other year.

    How would that 40 MB hard drive work for you these days, George?

  5. Todd Mason says:

    One can hope some of the older machines might be immune to some of the bugs (well, viruses, worms, etc.) that are circulated today, but that might or might not be wishful thinking. Certainly if the bug is aimed specificaly at OSes that the old machine couldn’t handle if it tried…

  6. Todd Mason says:

    Stay away from the bottom of the line Dells. My office made a costly “cost-saving” mistake that way some years back.

  7. Fence says:

    And just think, you can walk around with a couple of gb in your back pocket. It’s incredible really how far we’ve come.

  8. Richard says:

    Fence – That it is, that it is!

    Todd – I had no complaints about the several Dell computers I had, but none of them was bottom level, I always bought the best set-up I could afford, best chips, cards and drives. Perhaps the complains I hear about Dell machines is from bottom-tier users.

    I would guess any virus aimed at Windows would at least slow down an older version, though before Win 98 I’m not sure.

    All that virus-trojan and such stuff, and the layers of security protection required to protect against it, was one of the reasons I switched to a Mac. Yes, I have protection and firewalls in place, but it doesn’t slow things down the way the Windows stuff did.

  9. The computer I have now was built by my nephew. My only previous computer(I’m not counting the completely ancient Texas Instruments model I received for Christmas one year) was a Dell bought straight from the factory. I guess it wasn’t bottom of the line(I loaded it with everything possible at the time) and it was simply replaced because it was about seven years old. It was beginning to give me problems.

  10. Todd Mason says:

    My best friend/ex-housemate Alice has had good Dells over the last decade. I do believe it was primarily the cheapest line that was remarkably problematic (my own first machine in that wise lasted One [1] day). My brother got nothing bad news from the cheaper Dells as well, when writing code for Windows-based products; he now works at Apple.

  11. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Face it, Rick – you’re a geezer.

    I’m definitely staying off your lawn.


  12. Richard says:

    That’s a smart move, Jeff. Unless you’ve been invited, of course!

  13. I’m glad I read these comments. I’m in the market for a new laptop and I’ve been considering getting a Dell because my work laptop is one and it’s nothing but a great little workhorse. As for my current home laptop, it’s an HP and I’ve had nothing but problems with it. Completely replaced the hard drive last summer and now I’m back to where I was before I did that. As far as storage, I never thought I’d have to think about that but nowadays with all the huge files and photos I cart around, I’m paying more attention to that.

  14. Richard says:

    From what I’ve read, Laurie, the Toshiba line is very good.

  15. Todd’s right about the cheapo DELLs. Nothing but trouble. I always buy the high-end. Most of the programs we use at the College are much larger than 40 megs, Rick.

  16. Carl V. says:

    It is funny and amazing how much computing has changed even since I got my first computer, which was back in 1998. I remember ordering the latest and greatest video card, etc. because I was buying it as a gaming machine. That thing wouldn’t hold a candle to even the most inexpensive console today.

  17. Richard says:

    Makes you wonder what we’ll be using in a decade.

  18. Carl V. says:

    Exactly! The things you see in, say, the film version of Minority Report don’t seem too far-fetched.

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