The evolution of computing over the last 10 years has been remarkable. We still aren’t using the futuristic laser manipulated storage devices with holographic displays as predicted in Popular Science; but we can do more work in the palm of our hand while eating dinner at the in-laws than we could in 8 hours at the office. Advancements in computer technology have forever changed society for better or worse. But just as a generation of women suffering from tobacco related illnesses, “We’ve come a long way baby.”
I paid $2800 for a pentium 166 (not mmx) with a 2GB hard drive, 32MB RAM, a 33600 baud modem and a 17″ monitor. My rural phone line quality was so poor that a standard ppp dialup connection would not work at all; but the (then) proprietary AOL connection, installed via single floppy disk, would connect at 7200 to 9600 baud for short sessions. In time, I almost realized the theoretical modem speed. The internet offered little in real information, but I could chat with people from every walk of life – most of whom I probably would never befriend in real life. Not all was bad, however. Email worked 100% of the time and SPAM was a canned meat you kept in the cupboard but never ate.
The computer I built cost half what the ’95 PC cost, and a decent Dell costs half again. My broadband internet runs close to 3 Megs and when it doesn’t work its not because I forgot to disable call waiting on the phone. I can re-download a file faster than I can find where I saved it the first time. I can even download Bill’s latest offering and then download the crack that patches the fact that he didn’t want me to download it from http://www.microsoft.hk in the first place. Email is now less reliable than carrier pigeons except for SPAM which always seems to get through. The internet has nearly replaced the library, leaving me wondering why we don’t save oil this winter and burn books. And when was the last time you saw your local travel agent?