Gone is the days of windows 98 (for most people) and slow hardware like IDE hard drives, VGA monitors and USB 1.0. However it is interesting to take a look back at the capabilities of this legacy hardware just to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time.
Windows 98 SE was released in June of 1998 that was a mere seventeen years ago. What kind of hardware was around back then and what was it capable of? Today we use SATA hard drives and solid states disks, what was available back in the late 90s?
Wow how things have changed!
Hard drives were often only a mere 2GB in size, we can’t even imagine being tethered to a 2GB flash drive these days in fact we wouldn’t even be able to load a full copy of Windows 7 off a 2GB hard drive. The speeds in the late 90s were nothing fantastic either, IDE or Parallel ATA transfer rates max out around a mere 133MB/s with wide and clunky ribbon cables that can extend up to 18 inches long, today we use SATA or Serial ATA with much smaller cables and a higher data rate exceeding 600MB/s.
Capacity factors …..
Hard disk and cable technology is not the only place we’ve seen improvement of course, remember that flash drive I mentioned? The average capacity upon release was only 8 to 16 Megabytes with more expensive models running for about 64 Megabytes. When larger capacities were available I remember paying $100 for a 4GB flash drive, my first drive being only a mere 512MB of storage. Capacity of course was not the only factor as USB 1.0 was release with a transfer rate of only 1.5mb to 12mb at full speed, today with USB 2.0 an astounding 60MB/s can be achieved with USB 3.0 promising 640MB/s which is faster than the advertised speed of a SATA connection.
Digital Visual Interface!
There has been a lot of innovation to computer hardware and its peripherals however we don’t want to forget the display and its VGA port. In the 90s VGA was the primary video connection for modern pcs of the time. VGA otherwise known as Video Graphics Array is an analog video signal connection with a maximum resolution of 2053 x 1536 however with the introduction of electrical noise and other interfering sources the signal is hard to compare to that of a monitor using a DVI connection otherwise known as a Digital Visual Interface. DVI interfaces claim a max resolution of 2560 x 1600 and while this is close to the max resolution of a VGA interface this new all-digital connection doesn’t suffer from the same interference sources of its predecessor.
We can’t really talk about VGA and monitor connections without bringing up the old CRT monitor. It is a known fact that these cathode ray tube based monitors emitted an electromagnetic radiation and lead based glass was used to lower the amount of radiation that hit the user, while many believe it to be harmless there are those who believe that exposure to this radiation may be dangerous. Monitors of the time using glass panels often had an issue with glair so placing a computer near a window was often a bad choice, unlike the plastic panels used in most LCDs today or Liquid Crystal Displays. The new displays are generally safer while consuming far less energy than their CRT counterparts. Though the biggest issue was burn-in and the reason why computers came equipped with screen savers, if you left a monitor on a single image too long it would burn into the screen and was often unrepairable, modern monitors thankfully are not plagued with this issue.