The PC is Dead, Long Live the PC!

1 minute read

Aug 2016: Personal Computer. Big, beige, boxy. So called, because it was your personal property I suppose, rather than that of the firm you worked for.

Now though, phones seem more deserving of the title: the new Personal Computer, which you can carry breezily about your person. Definitely earned the “Personal” there. And “Computer”? No question. The capability of what we still call “mobile phones” is quite staggering.

Summer 2016: the new OnePlus 3 as just one example has 6Gb RAM, 64Gb storage and a 1920 x 1080 screen resolution – as good as many 40″ or even 50″ TVs that people watch entirely happily. And already that’s considered an “only”, as in “only 1080p” by some.

And what really got my attention? One reviewer describing that 6GB RAM as the same as a “shitty laptop”. Really? Exactly when did a 6GB RAM laptop become so far behind the bleeding edge it earned the label “shitty”?

Leaving aside childhood “my first computer ran on grit and chalk” machines, my own first modern PC had 8Mb of RAM and a few hundred Mb hard disk. Running Visual C++ on a 14″ CRT screen: happy times. No internet back then, but hey, who could need more than the help files on the install CD?

Now: phones come with 6,144Mb of RAM, and 65,536Mb of storage (more sometimes – twice that on several), and a screen res that would’ve let me run 4 of my 1996 IDEs in a nice tiled arrangement! (The text might be a little small on a phone of course…). It’s unreal. Take the time to really think how far we’ve come. It’s truly amazing, not least for the extent to which we take it all for granted, even those of us that know what 8MB vs 6Gb actually physically means.

“Mobile phones”. Even “Smart phones”. Just doesn’t do them justice if you ask me. These amazing devices would’ve been sci-fi even 20 years ago, even when we had proper internet and browsers and whatnot. We really ought to give them a name more worthy…