“If the automobile had followed the same

development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce

would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon,

and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.”

–Robert X. Cringely, 1998.

 

It is generally accepted beyond debate that no other technological invention has grown so rapidly as the electronic computer. Mechanical and electrical computing machines have been around since the 19th century, but the 1930s and 1940s are considered the beginning of the modern computer era. The ENIAC and other machines like the Z3 and the Colossus were developed during World War II – to calculate artillery table in the case of ENIAC, but soon the true scope of its applications was discovered. The picture shows an IBM hard drive being loaded onto an airplane in 1956, it’s a 5 mega-byte drive, and it weighed more than 2,000 pounds – it was available for rent at $3,500 per month.

To put that in context, 60 years later, the weakest iPhone 5S has a 16 gigabyte drive, about 3,200-times as big. It weighs a quarter of a pound. The IBM hard drive shown could have stored exactly one iPhone picture. With Virtual reality devices being the new entrant into the market following motion sensing technology, consumer electronics are getting exponentially more powerful and exponentially cheaper as time goes on.