Friday, March 23, 2012

You've Come a Long Way, Techie

The first computer I worked on had a grand total of 2MB of memory. Not gigabytes, megabytes. It was an early version of what we know today as distributed systems. On that system (which was intended to run things like inventory systems for warehouses) I wouldn't have been able to watch a video, play music, or even connect to the internet. That was 1980.

If you could travel back in time, and bring today's laptop with you, what could you accomplish? That was the question posed by Alan McMahon recently on the Dell blogs.

Let's travel back in the time machine to see:

Click below to see the image larger at its original site:
Laptops and Humans: Modern technology in the pastHumans and laptops: What could you do with a single laptop in the past?

If you could bring your laptop into the past, what would you like to do with it?


Joanne said...

Interesting question, but I'm not sure how a laptop would have served us in the past. I think it's a device who's time had to arrive before it could be fully appreciated.

Dave E said...

So let's see, a single lap top (or any computing device) without the means to recharge or power it would last what? Maybe a day. Add to that, no internet and being that there's only one, no one to connect to anyway.
That graphic talks about downloading a picture Leonardo down loading books or running sim city to plan Rome which is great if you already have that stuff on the computer but if not, basically you are screwed.
It says at the end that a single laptop could have replaced all the decoders at Bletchly Park with some simple javascript. The thing is, would you know how to even write that script and if not, what then because there's no one else with the technology and knowledge to go ask?
When I was a kid (loooooong before computers were generally available) the only source of information I had was the local library.
The main power of modern technology is not the technology itself but the connectivity it gives us. Think of it as crowd sourcing for everything.
The thing is, most of us as individuals don't know how most things around us actually work but it's not a problem because we can always find out or find someone that does know.

The thing is, we and our tools are a part of the world in which we live. Take us/them out of context and it's like a fish out of water. After all, if you could go back to say, the middle ages, how many of us today would actually survive for very long. Most of us would be completely unadapted to that environment since would would not have even the most basic skills to live and survive in that time.

Colette Martin said...

Joanne and Dave, you both make very good points, and to a large extent, I agree with you. On the other hand, the processing power in today's laptop would have been more than enough to run one of those warehouses that we used to run with dozens of networked computers. And I can imagine that we would have been able to give them a graphic interface (yes, we'd have to write the software).

Liz Fichera said...

I wouldn't want to bring it back. I would prefer to leave the past as it is. I'd hate to think it would have taken time away from all the time I spent playing outside with friends, although maybe if it could have helped me with a book report or two...

Steve in POK said...

Trump, C. My first was an 8K IBM 1130. Card in, typewriter (pre-Selectric) out. Load the FORTRAN compiler with a card deck, then the program deck, then wait, wait .............with no whirly to amuse you. My Simplex linear program would complete by the time my finger released the enter key on my current PC. But this note is no faster than it would have been in 1981.

Carol Kilgore said...

All my clicks took me to Dell's best laptop deals. If I were able to go back in time, I figure someone way smarter than I am would have already figured out how my laptop would connect to today's internet.