Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Little Nostalgia - And What the Hell Happened to Performance?

Right now I am sitting at a computer with 16GB of RAM, 500GB of SSD main storage and a 300GB 7000 RPM hard drive for data, all being controlled by an Intel Core i3-3240 CPU running Windows 7 Ultimate.  Not a blazing gaming machine but I can comfortably work all day and make a decent living.


As long as no update is processing or it doesn't attempt to digest a bad update or some mysterious internal process isn't sucking up resources like a sump pump in flood season.

Then, using this piece of hardware is not only a large pain in the ass, but sometimes causes days of poking and prodding to back-out an update that went wonky.

First I had the little Timex Sinclair ZX-81.  Great little machine with it's 2.25 MHz Z-80 processor and 32KB Ram.  Yes...  Kilo-Byte.  The OS was burnt onto ROM or EEPROM, so before the TV caught it's video sync, the thing was booted up.

On the down side, there were two computer languages (that I knew about anyway), a crappy version of BASIC and Z-80 assembler (that I never really got to work well).  OK...  This was not a shining piece of computer hardware, nor a fine example of performance...  but it did boot fast!

Then, my third machine...  A Commodore 128 - actually a Commodore C64 and Z-80 driven CP/M machine in one box.  Connect a hard drive and a modem and you could surf the world.  Oh, sure, the web was dominated by ARCHIE and GOPHER and FTP and simple E-Mail, but one could accomplish what one needed; and quickly as well.  I distinctly remember downloading a C compiler for CP/M and writing an IBM-370 assembler on that thing.

Maybe I am getting old, but I would REALLY rather have something that just worked than something glittery and new and expensive that is amazingly fast, so long as the CPU is clicking off NOPs.