On the growth of home computes

I just bought a new iMac for my wife. Like my flash drive post, I’ll try to compare what’s in our home today against our first home PC.

I won’t make the same mistakes I did in that post. But I may make different ones.

Our first system was a standard PC with a Nanao 19″ monitor. It ran Windows 95, 98, 98 second edition, Me, and then I replaced it. Our current systems are a 17″ MacBook Pro and a 24″ iMac.

I don’t have our first system to benchmark against, but I do remember some salient hardware specs.


What Then Now Difference
Purchase year 1996 2008 – 2009 ~12 years
Computers 1 desktop 1 laptop, 1 desktop x 2
Total cost $6,000, + printer $6,000, + printer same
GHz x # cores .166 10.8 x 65
Graphics chips 1 slow poke 2 speedy chips x lots
RAM 32MB 8GB x 250
RAM speed Don’t remember 667MHz, 800MHz x 6?
Disk 4GB 506GB int. + 2TB NAS = 2.5TB x 625
Disk speed 5400rpm? 1 5400rpm, 1 7200rpm x 1.33? (desktop comparison)
Local network 10Mbit 1000Mbit x 100
Internet 54Kbps 7Mbps down, 896Kbps up x 130, x17
Screens 19″ Nanao CRT, 1024 x 768 max useable 1 17″, 1 24″ plasmas, both 1920 x 1200 x 5.9 pixels, – volume, – weight
Power 300W, I think 85W + 280W = 365W x 1.22
Printer Dedicated HP DeskJet color inkjet Networked Samsung ML-2551N b&w laser – color, + everything else


For our first system, I don’t recall (and so cannot compare) disk caches, processor caches, motherboard I/O bus performance, graphics processor performance, or system MTBF. It was an ISA bus system, with then-standard serial, parallel, and video connectors out of the case. Today’s system are festooned with USB and FireWire connectors, a DVI connector, and an ExpressCard connector.

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