Historical Index: Read/Write the Planet From My Laptop
At a certain historical date, my present day laptop could hypothetically read/write all the RAM on all of the computers on the planet, within some number of seconds.
Today, if I bought a brand new laptop with an SSD I can expect some pretty awesome read/write speeds. A current MacBook Air w/ SSD has specs in the ~750MiB/sec range. If we restate in easier numbers, it’s 700MiB/sec for read & write.
I did a few quick searches, and I found an interesting number. In 1980, there were about 1 million personal computers. Computers of the day were 8 bit, and had a normal maximum of 64KiB RAM. There were lots of computers trying to win the consumer market then, some had a lot less than 64K. There were definitely minis and micros and super computers that had a lot more than 64K, but I think that averaged out, it’s probably more like 32K. I think 64K is a nicer number, and since I’m not going to exhaustively do the research to find the real number, we’ll use that.
Real, user programmable computers:
1,000,000 * 64K = 64GiB
The whole planet had about 64GB of useable RAM in 1980.
If we convert everything to bytes, it looks like this:
(64 * 1024 * 1000000) / (700 * 1024 * 1024)
= 89.285714 seconds
Call it 90 seconds.
In 2013, all of the RAM from 1980 could be read from and written to in 90 seconds, by a stock, new laptop.
What is a neat way to state that?
(2013 - 1980) -> 90
33 / 90
I’m not sure any of those notations are less than confusing. It’s definitely kind of a useless thing. I think it would be cool to see if figured out as a trend over time. How would Moore’s Law figure into it? At what point did consumer electronics grow to the point where the index has to be scaled by minutes, or years?