Computing from 1976

Sat Dec 30 21:13:15 CST 2017

so if  you bought the altair and put it away  you  could  sort of sell it  
for the same amount of money-worth today.
In a message dated 12/30/2017 5:10:22 P.M. US Mountain Standard Time,  
cctalk at writes:

It was  thus said that the Great Fred Cisin via cctalk once stated:
> On Sat, 30  Dec 2017, Murray McCullough via cctalk wrote:
> >I was perusing my  old computer magazine collection the other day and
> >came across an  article entitled: “Fast-Growing new hobby, Real
> >Computers you  assemble yourself”, Dec. 1976. It was about MITS,
> >Sphere, IMSAI  and SWT. 4K memory was $500. Yikes! Even more here in
> >Canada. Now  this is true Classic Computing. Have a Happy New Year
> >everyone.  May the computing gods shine down on us all in 2018.
> >Happy  computing.  Murray  :)
> OK, a little arithmetic  exercise for you.
> (a 16C is nice for this, but hardly  necessary)

Sounds like fun.

> "Moore's Law", which was  a prediction, not a "LAW", has often been 
> mis-stated as predicting a  doubling of speed/capacity every 18 months.
> 1) Figure out how  many 18 month invtervals since then, and what 4k 
> "should' have  morphed into by now.

1) 28 doublings since 1975.   

(2017-1975) * 12

4K should (had we truly doubed everything every 18 months)  now be 1T

2^12   = 4K
2^40    ~ 1T

> 2) What did Gordon Moore actually  say in 1965?

That the number of transistors in an integrated  circuit double every 18

> 3) How much is $500 of  1976 money worth now?

It depends upon how you calculate  it.  I'm using this page [1] for the
calculation, and I  get:

Current data is only available till 2016. In 2016,  the relative
price worth of $500.00 from 1976  is:

$2,110.00 using the Consumer Price Index
$1,680.00 using the GDP deflator
$2,400.00 using the  value of consumer bundle
$2,000.00 using the unskilled  wage
$2,450.00 using the Production Worker  Compensation
$3,340.00 using the nominal GDP per  capita
$4,960.00 using the relative share of GDP

>  4) Consider how long it took to use a text editor to make a grocery 
>  shopping list in 1976.  How long does it take today?

I  would think the same amount of time.  Typing is typing.

> Does  having the grocery list consist of pictures instead of words, with 
>  audio commentary, and maybe Smell-O-Vision (coming soon), improve the 
>  quality of life?   

For me, not really.

>  How much does it help to be able to contact your 
> refrigeratior and  query its knowledge of its contents?

It could be helpful, but  with the current state of IoT, I would not want
to have that  ability.

> (Keep in mind, that although hardware expanded  exponentially, according 
> Moore's Law, Software follows a corollary  of Boyle's Law, and expands to 
> fill the available space and use all  of the available resources - how 
> can "modern" software do in  4K?, and how much is needed to boot the 
> computer and run a "modern"  text editor?)

EMACS is lean and mean compared to some of the  "text editors" coming out
today, based upon Javascript  frameworks.  It's scary.

> 5) What percentage of computer users  still build from kits, or from 
> scratch?

I would say  significantly less than 1%.  Say, 5% of 1%?  That's  probably
in the right ballpark.

> 6) What has replaced  magazines for keeping in touch with the current 
> state of  computers?

The world wide web, although I do miss the Byte  magazine of the 70s and
80s.  Not so much the  90s.

-spc (Yeah, I realize these were probably rhetorical in  nature ... )


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