Portable Computers

This weekend, I dusted off a few of my old computers and booted them up to see how they were doing. Old computers are nowhere near as sturdy or stable as their modern-day counterparts. The biggest problem is the capacitors dry out and you have to go around the motherboard and replace them. And old hard drives tend to stick if they haven’t been used for a while. It would be like trying to play a record if the needle didn’t move.

I know. What the hell is a record?

The two computers I tested each have 20 MB hard drives. That’s 20 MEGABYTES (MB).

Most hard drives now are measured in GIGABYTES (GB), thousands of times bigger.

A 20 MB hard drive would be the equivalent of a .02 GB hard drive.

That’s enough to hold about 3 iTunes songs.

My current computer has 4 TERABYTES (TB).

That’s about 4,000,000 MB.

That’s a ton of iTunes music and a lot of clown porn.

And a TB hard drive costs about $100. Back in the day, a 20 MB hard drive was $1,500.

Prices have dropped dramatically in the past 35 years.

(And clown porn has gotten better)

What really amazes me though is how big and bulky these old computers are.

I hear people at work complaining about lugging their 2 pound laptops around, and the battery only lasting 4 hours.


Here’s the first computer I tested. It was the first “portable” IBM computer. It’s an IBM 5155. It weighs 30 pounds and has a 9” screen (picture tube). It has one color- amber. And you have to plug it in. No batteries. This was state of the art in 1984.

It cost a whopping $4300, which in 1984, was a bundle. It originally came with two 5.25 floppy drives, but I upgraded this one with a hard drive. If I had paid someone to build it this way for me back in 1984, the hard drive would have probably added an additional $2000 to the price.

The second computer I tested was an IBM P70. It came out in 1989. This one cost $5000, but it only weighed 20 pounds. Of course, you still had to plug it in. No batteries. It was the direct ancestor to the laptop computer. It actually had a plasma screen- one color of course, and a built in 3.5 disk drive. The screen and the floppy folded out for use.

That’s another thing that went the way of the Dodo. Floppy drives. Most computer manufacturers don’t even include them on laptops anymore. Nowadays, you can store pretty much everything on a USB Flash drive. The one I carry with me is about the size of a tube of ChapStick and holds 1 TB. That’s enough to hold all the software written for the IBM computer line from 1981 to 1991.

So where are we now?

Small and lightweight computers, huge memory, beautiful graphics, wireless connections that are faster than wired connections, and software that you can download in the blink of an eye.

So what’s next?

Voice recognition.

Siri was only the start.


  1. Glass Half Full says:

    Very cool! Oh, and it’s a good thing that computer technology has advanced this far…I mean, how much clown porn could you store on a 20 MB hard drive?

  2. Dude, I remember lugging around a P75. It was better than going back to the office to enter information. Wish I had kept it when I left that company.

  3. TheRealSheldonCooper says:

    I use my 5155 all the time to transfer 5.25 disks to 3.5 disks. I have a VGA monitor on it also. And there’s no WiFi connection for Penny to steal. Bazinga

  4. Brit93 says:

    Is that the male equivalent of shoes?

  5. Stewie11 says:

    A little before my time and not as nice as my time machine, but very cool. I like the 5155. I looked it up and you can connect a monitor to it, so it could be very handy. Rupert likes the P70 but he likes anything with “P” in it.

  6. Aniket says:

    I stick with my MacBook, thank you very much. 🙂


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