This Is How Much PCs Have Changed In 30 Years

This Is How Much PCs Have Changed In 30 Years

Technology evolves so rapidly that we often spend more time complaining about what we can’t do rather than appreciating what we have. Comparing the specs for a 30-year-old notebook with a current model underscores that point.

Picture: Getty Images/Steve Eason

At an event last week to celebrate 30 years of selling notebook PCs, Toshiba highlighted the differences in the specifications for the T1100 it was selling in 1985 and its current Kira ultrabook. Check out the details:

Spec T1100 Kira % gain
Year 1985 2015
CPU 4.77 Mhz 3.0Ghz +628%
RAM 256KB 8GB +31,250%
HDD 720KB (int FDD) 256GB SSD +355,555%
Screen Res 80 x 25 (text) 2560 x 1440 +1800%
Weight 4.1kg 1.32kg -67%
Price $4000 $2599 -35%

The fact that current models are cheaper even before accounting for inflation underscores just how much technology has changed. (Mind you, in 1985 I’d have been insanely grateful to have a machine that weighed just 4.1kg!)


  • I remember my first x86 computer. It was an Amstrad. It was 1985. We ran it of five and quarter floppies and played games like Ancient Art of War. EGA, CGA….all of that was part of learning. Running basic.

    There was a dungeon and dragons game where you were in a dungeon. Fog of war meant you couldn’t see any further then a few yards. I remember my brother with great big pieces of paper drawing the dungeon map as we progressed.

    The day we got a 10MB HD, oh man my ideas popped out of my head. It was a brick to be sure but wow. Limitless space.

    Its a shame but todays generation of kids simply don’t have the same love of affair for tech. I know my daughter doesn’t really care about platforms, command prompts or specs. I don’t even think she knows about the concept of storage like I did at her age. Though granted the little bugger is far smarter then me in many other areas.

    I think in someways not knowing the nature of hardware is a good and bad thing. Imagine in 50 years. Will people really give a crap about storage? It’ll be for all intensive purposes limitless. As will processing power and RAM.

    • Yes, you can think I’m being pedantic but the meaning is lost.

      You said:
      >> It’ll be for all intensive purposes limitless.

      Should say:
      “It’ll be, for all intents and purposes, limitless.”

  • Fascinating! 1985 was a bit before my time but I still remember the old computers.

    Also, I think the maths is a bit off for the percentages?
    4.77 Mhz to 3.0 Ghz (or 3000 Mhz) is a change from 4.77 to 3000, which is about a 628-times increase. Expressed as a percentage this is 62,893%

    • also it’s now multicore, so it’s at least twice that.

      I’m most confused by the screen resolution. it’s about 1800 times increase (or 180000%) if you assume one character is equal to one pixel, but it had an actual resolution of 640×200 or around 2880%
      So they were in the general ballpark, but only by making multiple large mistakes.

    • He’s probably got a Reuters terminal and a PC. When I working in banking in the 80s, dealers might have separate Reuters, Telerate, Knight Ridder terminals, a mainframe terminal and a (non-networked) PC – each with a keyboard. Keyboard switches came a little later and then finally multi-windowed screens. It was still enormously confusing. I remember one dealer trying to make a phone call on her calculator as the number pad lay out was adjacent to the phone touch pad next to it.

      It’s not just hardware costs that came down. IIRC a single Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet license was about $800 in 1987. However anyone doing anything substantial with them usually also laid out for a maths-coprocessor chip for their PC.

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