Saturday, August 28, 2010

The evolution of personal computers - what I have owned

Here is a list of "primary" personal computers that I have owned in order of purchase.  The evolution of the technology and specifications - particularly the hardware - is spectacular.

1. Kaypro, circa 1989
  • 1 MB RAM (640K used by DOS)
  • 20 MB Hard Disk
  • Intel 8088-2 Processor - 5 MHz, turbo mode 8MHz
  • 5.2 inch floppy disk drive
  • Cost $4,000 (approx)
  • Status: in storage
  • MS DOS
  • MS Windows 1.4 (ran like a dog, basically useless)
  • MS Word for DOS v4
This was my first PC.  The processor was on a board that plugged into the motherboard so in theory it could easily upgraded, but in practice CPU and bus design superseded this feature.

The RAM above 640KB could be configured and used as a RAM disk.

2. Microarts 486, circa 1993
  • MS DOS 5
  • OS/2 version 2.1 and version 3.0
  • MS Word for Windows 2.0
3. Landmark AMD K6, circa 1997
  • Windows 95
4. Dell Optiplex, circa 2001
  • 512 MB RAM, upgraded to 768MB RAM (3 * 256 MB modules)
  • 100 MB Hard disk (?)
  • Pentium III processor - 600 MHz (?)
  • Video onboard
  • Cost: $1,250 (approx)
  • Status: Returned at end of lease deal.
  • Windows 2000
This machine was purchased as part of a "PC at home" via the company I worked for at the time.  They took a long time to get the program running so it was a substandard spec by the time it arrived.  I upgraded the RAM and hard disks over time.

5. Homebuilt Pentium IV, circa 2003
  • 2GB RAM 
  • 100 MB Hard disk (?)
  • Pentium IV processor - 2.4 GHz (upgraded to 2.8 GHz)
  • Video: nVideo GE Forece 4 440, upgraded to ATI Radeon 9600 512MB
  • Cost: $1,500 (approx)
  • Status: Still in use
  • Windows 2000
I built this machine as a longer term proposition. It had double the RAM that was common at that time.  I also fitted a SCSI card to run a Nikon Coolscan III scanner.  I started with a RAID configuration then reverted to normal disk management.

6. Asus F3JM Laptop - Core 2 Duo, circa 2006
  • 2GB RAM 
  • 250 MB Hard disk (upgraded to 500 MB)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor - 2.53 GHz
  • 2 cores
  • Video nVidia Geforce GO 7800 512MB
  • Cost: $2,700 (approx)
  • Status: In use.
  • Windows XP
  • Kubuntu 9.10
The concept here was to use a lower power machine as my primary workstation that I could also lug around when required.  The processor has enough grunt to do video editing.  However, over time the boot time has increased and the performance has degraded.  It never ran Adobe Premiere Elements very fast.  I also ended up with several large (1TB +) which cluttered up my desk space a bit.

7. Custom built Core i5, mid 2011
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Sun Virtual Box - Linux Mint 8 and Fedora Core 13
This machine has good processor power for encoding videos and more than enough for general office tasks.  There is enough memory to run additional operating systems in virtual machines too.

Mobile and secondary computers

Fujitsu Lifebook 2120
  • MS Windows XP
  • Kubuntu 9.10 Linux
This very compact laptop ran the low voltage and low power Transmeta Crusoe processor.  It was a pioneer of the segment that later become known as Netbooks.  It has been very reliable, but the processor speed is a bit slow and the memory cannot be upgraded.

MSI Wind U100 Netbook
  • MS Windows XP Home Edition
  • Linux Mint 8.0
  • Kubuntu 9.10

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