I Get It - Technology is Expensive, But Do You Remember 30 Years Ago?

The Geeksultant's picture

So, yes, I've just dated myself a little by using that title. But it's true! Everyone is complaining how expensive technology is to run their company today. Problem is, many are too young to remember the beginnings of today's computer technology. Now I am not going all the way back to the start of the mainframe system days, but let's explore early life of computers circa 1980's and move forwards from there.

A brand new IBM PC with 512 KB of RAM (yes, you read right, 1/2 of a Meg!), two 5.25" floppy disk drives and an 8088 (or gasp, an 8086) processor that literally took 5 minutes to boot to a DOS command prompt, cost a whopping $5000+ to purchase. The first HP LaserJet printer was in the same price range. Early adopters were doctors and attorneys and basically they used these systems for word processing. Yep, a $10,000 computer and printer so that you could put your words into digital format and print on paper. A standard typewriter cost $200 in comparison.

Back in those days, your purchase included the PC and printer, plus they would deliver the system, set it up and provide training to your staff on how to use it. How's that for customer service? Ask someone at Best Buy to do that today and see how hard they'll laugh at you...

In the 1980's, business network x86 Windows servers were all but non-existent. The boom there didn't start until the 1990's.

Fast forward to those same 1990's and clone PC's running 286, 386, 486 and soon the first Pentium processor came into existence. Still, these systems cost $2000 to $3000 each and laser printers still ran in the $1000+ range. Cheaper inkjet and dot matrix printers could be had for a few hundred dollars. The 90's also brought Windows network servers into existence and data centers started to sprout and grow everywhere. A decent, high end server, with 1 GB of RAM, dual single core processors running at a fast 60 MHz (first Pentium chip) and RAID configured storage with a slew of spinning disk hard drives with a whopping 500 megabytes of storage, or maybe even (Gasp!) a gigabyte ran in the $10k plus range. I remember paying $300 for a 360 MB hard drive. I was so tickled pink that I was able to get a hard drive with costs of less than a dollar per megabyte. Yep, those were the days!

Today, you can purchase a laptop with a quad core Intel i7 processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 1 terabyte hard drive, that 30 years ago, could have run an entire company data center. Oh, and all that for under 500 bucks. (Visions of that Polaroid commercial circa 1991 "Under 30 bucks" come to mind)

So the next time you whine about how expensive technology is, stop it. It's cheaper than it's ever been.