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April 24, 2018

How many of you keep stacks of old computer publications? I did, until I was finally told to get rid of some of my PC Computing magazines from the 90s. Recently though, I was sent back in time when someone on Twitter posted a link to Byte magazine's April 1998 issue.
The tweeter originally pointed to an article about crash-proof computing that explained why PCs are so crash prone compared to mainframes and other mission-critical computers. Yep, that was still a new concept back then.
Some of the characteristics of "crash-proof computing" included attentive administrators, reliable software, robust memory protection and redundant hardware. Of course, this could very easily describe today’s IBM Power Systems environments.
The author contrasted that with the typical PC environments of the day. If you were in the workforce in 1998 you might remember how often machines would crash. Admittedly, today's personal computers are very reliable. It's been years since I've had to reboot my laptop.
Another article from this issue that caught my eye was a quick two-page read titled, “IBM’s Powerhouse Chip.” It described the 8-way superscalar core, and how the new POWER3 raises the bar for high-performance CPUs.
With POWER9 systems now available, I couldn't help but marvel at how far we've come in 20 years. Give it a read, and I expect you too will find yourself thinking about how nice it is to be running machines nowadays. I can remember having root on some POWER3 and POWER4 hardware years ago. It truly is a night-and-day difference from then to now.
For me, the biggest nostalgia kick came from the ads. Here's a taste:
  • Micron servers and laptops (with specs that my phone beats today).
  • Digital Alpha.
  • Gateway.
  • Silicon Graphics.
  • IBM e-business and solutions for a small planet.
  • Intel Pentium II.
  • IBM Desktstar 14G and 16G disks.
A lot of these companies are gone now, as is Byte itself--this issue was one of the last. Of course, many big tech companies endure: Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Information Builders, APC, Kingston, Intel, and CDW, to name a few.
Honestly, these little trips back in time, and the chuckles I get from them, help keep me grounded. Rest assured though, 20 years from now, today's cutting edge technologies will seem similarly quaint.

Posted April 24, 2018| Permalink