20 May 2005

25 years in information technology

This disk drive holds 2.2 billion bytes of data. I bought it at Fry's the other day for $100.

The computer below is a Decsystem 10, state-of-the-art in 1979. Each of the aqua boxes is roughly the size of a Sub-Zero fridge. This system probably had something like 512 kbytes of solid-state RAM and 50 megs of disk storage, and sold for several million dollars. I took the picture at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View a couple of weeks ago.

In 1979, I worked for a company called Tymshare and this was one of their computers, so most likely I used it. Tymshare rented out time on computers that it owned, and you could rent time on a Decsystem 10 for a few hundred dollars an hour.

While I was working at Tymshare, IBM announced their PC was on the way. All the young guys like me figured "game over" for Tymshare, but it took about 3 or 4 years for Tymshare's business model to implode. Things moved slower in those days.

The Decsystem 10 was a fine computer. It ran an operating system called TOPS-20 which had the best command-line interface I've ever used. If you know what a command-line interface is, you're either old or run Linux.

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