Sunday, August 30, 2009

Technology That Is No Longer There

Remember those days of yore - you turn on your trusted PC XT (one with 4.7Mhz processor and 640KB of RAM,) and insert a floppy disk into drive A: That single floppy has everything you need to start the computer. In fact, you only needed 3 files to get your PC going - IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM. But obviously, there was also AUTOEXEC.BAT and, probably, the good old Norton Commander. Believe it or, all that used to fit on just one 360KB ("double density") 5.25" floppy. I almost miss those times nowadays, when I have to go through hundreds of different files in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 or /usr/bin folders, trying to locate the one which has gone corrupt.

Well, J R Raphael has come up with a list of 40 other things and activities that have either disappeared from our lives or nearing extinction. 1.44MB floppies (let alone the 360KB ones) are there. And they have quite a big company:
1. Playing Video Games at an Arcade

Status: On life support

Once a favorite activity of geeks worldwide, going to the arcade to play video games began fading away in the mid-1990s, just as going to the arcade to play pinball had done a decade before. A few arcades survive, but the days of gamers lining up to toss quarters into Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat are long gone. It's easy to see why: The advent of advanced gaming systems allows you to experience the same action at home, minus the dungeon-like lighting, the deafening game noise, and the premature exhaustion of your lunch money for the week.

2. Running Out of Hard-Drive Space

Status: Deceased

With terabyte-size drives now selling for less than $70, hard drives that exceed your storage needs aren't exactly hard to come by these days. But remember when an 80MB drive was the pinnacle of luxury and a 1GB drive would have seemed as spacious as Carlsbad Caverns?
By the way, believe it or not, but you can still start your computer from a disk - thanks to the Live CD technology and such "all-in-one" Linux-based operating systems as Knoppix or Austrumi. But even that may soon give way to booting from flash drive. After all, a flash drive fits in a pocket much better than a mini-CD, not to mention a full-sized 12-cm CD.

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