I see Apple have been busy again...

September 13, 2018

I'm not really a tech guy, but it's hard to miss the fanfare of an Apple launch.

 

Last night, the latest offerings were unveiled amid a 1 hour 47 minute razzmatazz keynote in the Steve Jobs Theatre.

 

Others will do justice to the new technology better than I will, but we celebrate an important computing birthday today, so here are a few thoughts to shake your head at and bore your friends with.

 

Today, 62 years ago, in 1956, when Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both just one year old, the grandad of all modern hard drives was first shipped into use, in Texas, US.

 

The IBM 305 RAMAC was groundbreaking, and not just because it weighed over a ton. RAMAC stood for Random Access Method of Accounting and Control, and was the first computer to use a moving head hard disk drive, storing the equivalent of 64,000 punch cards on 50 24" wide discs.

 The IBM 305RAMAC

It was the first computer to randomly access data rather than run start to finish to find what was required. Think about an old music tape and all the fast-forwarding, stopping, playing, stopping, rewinding, playing again to find the track you wanted versus the single button click of a CD.

 

The IBM disc 

 

Anyway, avoiding the overly technical, here are a few comparisons:

 

The IBM computer was 16 square feet in size. Apple's latest top of the range phone (The iPhone XS MAX) is 6.2 inches x 3.05 inches x 0.3 inches.

 

The IBM had a memory of not quite 5MB. The iPhone has a memory of 512GB, which is about 512000MB, so over 100,000 times bigger.

 

The IBM weighed over a ton, and needed to be transported by planes and forklift trucks. The iPhone weighs 208g, or 0.0002 tons, and can fit in your pocket.

 

The IBM cost US$3,200 a month to rent (equivalent to c$28,000 a month in today's money), and the new iPhone can be bought for what we consider to be (and is) an eye-watering £1,449, just for the handset.

 

Of course the phone does so much more. The internet capability, camera and communications technology makes the new phone only vaguely related to the IBM, but the DNA of all modern random access computer memory can trace its roots back to the IBM 305 RAMAC computer.

 

If you haven't the patience or the inclination to watch the whole keynote from yesterday, you might want to enjoy this 5 minute promo for the IBM from 1956! 

 

So on this lovely September day, be grateful for the technology, don't take the IT guys for granted, and thanks for reading.

 

Jeremy 

 

 

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