[SIGCIS-Members] The Best Historical Comparisons

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Thu Dec 16 08:52:07 PST 2021


Over the years many people have constructed historical comparisons to illustrate the rate of progress of development of computer technology. A colleague just sent me this example:

" There used to be a standard illustration of the effects of Moore's Law, along the lines of "if mechanical engineering had progressed at the same rate a Rolls Royce would do 250K mph, 1M miles to the gallon, cost 2p and be a quarter of an inch long (these aren't the actual figures but you get the idea).

Similarly I used to say that the 16 Gigabit memory that I used to carry around in my pocket would have weighed as much as an aircraft carrier in the technology of the 360/67. I recall that the 256K memory units in the 360 each weighs either a quarter or half a ton, including the integrated pipes for the cooling system. (As above the figures may no longer be accurate but they were whenever I said it.) Similar comparisons give a scale to the rates of progress in technology."

I wonder what is the best, and most up to date, comparison in common use these days.

Season's greetings

Brian Randell

School of Computing, Newcastle University, 1 Science Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 5TG
EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 208 7923
URL = http://www.ncl.ac.uk/computing/people/profile/brianrandell.html

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