Upgrades & Technostalgia

Computer UpgradeThere’s no denying the fact that computers are huge blessings – combined with that little invention called “internet” they’re an unstoppable pair… until they stop, and life comes to a screeching halt.

That happened last week, as our main office computer gave up the ghost, after fighting a long, painful demise.  My own laptop, from which I write, has been limping and is in need of repair, but it was our only lifeline to ordering a replacement… done, and three days later, the packages arrived!  I’ve spent the better hours of 5 days sorting out things like transfer of emails and contact lists, programmes, updates, software and hardware setups, and patch-jobs to get old programmes to understand the new ones and vice-versa!

Instead of the “old fashioned” desktop computer with a huge processor that either stands on the floor and collects cat hairs and dust bunnies or stands on our desk and collects dust bunnies and cat hairs, we decided to go with a laptop hooked up to a docking station and two screens.  Sweet!  And yes, I can use both… it’s great when I’ve got research documents open while writing, or doing translations or editing two documents simultaneously.  Now, to get my laptop repaired.

It’s amazing how we’ve become so dependent on computers, isn’t’ it?  Personal computers didn’t really begin to enter households in any significant way until around 1990; technically, they hit the market in the early ’80’s, but the products were mostly limited to electronics geeks and university libraries.  We got our first home computer in 1993, and it had RAM of a whopping 256 MB!!  How could anyone ever use THAT much??  Now we’ve passed Gigabytes, and we’re into terabytes (TB, 10004 ), and it won’t be long until we’re into petabytes (PB, 10005), exabytes (EB, 10006 ), zettabytes (ZB, 10007) and yottabytes (YB, 10008).  I remember writing business letters in DOS – back before Windows, virtual desktops or virtual wallpaper had even been dreamt of.  I remember floppy discs – the latest in technology, now used as drink coasters somewhere in the world, I’m sure.  5-inch floppy discs became passé with the advent of (gasp!) 2-inch version… how could anything that small have so much space on it (1.44 MB).  Imagine – back in the advent of computers, there was no Microsoft, no Amazon, no internet, no cloud storage, no dropbox, no websites, no Skype… they were essentially an information processor, with transfer of information only possible through a floppy disc or good ol’ fashioned printouts and photocopies (we won’t even go into the whole issue of the love-hate relationship most secretaries had with the first few generations of photocopiers).

Do you remember cassette tapes?  Polaroid cameras?  Now music is on a cloud or virtual shelf, and selfies and Instagram have made physical print photos nearly obsolete, except as an art form.

20 years later and these things all fit in your pocketMobile Phone History


These images show how far we’ve come in less than 40 years.  But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Check out these up-and-coming products or concepts that are in the making:  Just hover your cursor over each image for more information.


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Filed under Articles, History, Humor, Science & Technology, Space, Astronomy

19 responses to “Upgrades & Technostalgia

  1. I’ve been through all those phases. We got our first computer at home in the mid-80s. I could feel your pain with using a new computer. We had several new tech buys last year, ones that made me glued to instruction books. Good luck getting everything running smoothly again.

  2. Nowadays the fastest instruction manuals are YouTube videos – someone who’s been there, done that, and shows me how to do it! 🙂 It’s now all running smoothly – except my laptop, that needs to be sent in… but at least I can continue working on the other PC, now!

  3. Even though all of this is a wonderful thing, aren’t you a little bit concerned that eventually, these gadgets won’t need humans to drive them. Instead, it will probably be the other way around and we will all become so dependent on this technology that we will forget how to use our brains anymore. Either that or we will be hooked up with chips in our heads. It’s a frightening thought…

  4. I think that’s already happening; these days, people don’t have to learn or remember anything – they can just “google it”, or ask Wikipedia. And Google might not (yet) be a chip in our heads, but there are people who wear Google glasses – which, among other things, record everything they see – including you and me, if they look our way. Technology can be a beauty, but it can also be a beast… yes, it’s frightening, but also amazing.

  5. I might have to try that. I’m more comfortable with written instructions, but they are getting sketchier.

  6. “It’s amazing how we’ve become so dependent on computers, isn’t’ it?”
    It is.
    But at least for now, they are more dependent on us.

  7. wezlo

    My first computer was a TRS-80 color computer 2. We saved and loaded data on to cassette tapes, until we upgraded the ram (I think to 256k) so I could get a 5.25 inch floppy drive. No I create individual files which are larger than the entirety of all the floppies I ever had.

  8. I agree; they’re not usually very informative, no matter how many languages they are translated into…

  9. Yep; one Word file would have overloaded that! 😉

  10. wezlo

    Did you mean your first 1990’s computer had a 256mb hard drive or 256mb of RAM? Cause my first PC in 1994 had 8mb or ram and if you meant that I am way too jealous for my own good.

  11. The hard drive had 80MB, 256 MB RAM. No need to be jealous now – they were both top of the line back then (hard to believe now!)! 🙂

  12. wezlo

    My 1990’s self is jealous!

  13. I don’t even remember how small that MB was… today, I’ve got single Word documents (ok, book manuscripts) that are 31 MB or more…! If you want a good laugh, just google “1950s / 1960s computer” on images. 🙂

  14. By the way, I just saw the virtual keyboard on sale for $30… I remember when a music CD cost at least that much!

  15. wezlo

    I once did a presentation trying to explain to Church folks why we were in the midst of a communications revolution. So I tried to look up the difference in computing power between the original iPhone and the Apollo computer. The closest I got was the statement, “If an alien visited this planet and you showed them both devices, they would not believe they came from the same civilization.”

  16. I would have thought the com. rev. is obvious…! That quote is brilliant!
    Do a google image search for “uploading first 5 mb, 1956” – you’ll see a Pan Am plane being loaded. 5 MB. My computer doesn’t even sneeze that small now…

  17. Scary. I may revise my desire to live to 120 with a fully operable brain. Learning one of those devices might scramble my brain forever!

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