Anyone remember the Commodore 64?
I sure as hell do. It was an eight-bit home computer first released in January of 1982, and when I was a kid it was the greatest invention of our era. Mind-bending technology in the form of a clunky grey brick plugged into your television. No wireless, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth... cables people! Remember those? Endless hours of entertainment, and I mean serious eyeball-hanging entertainment. You see, before the advent of these archaic computer systems we had our bikes, our balls, 12 hours of daylight and our imaginations. Remember those? Then the world changed.
The Commodore 64 had a cartridge slot in the back for games and other programs, and if you were really lucky, your parents bought you the five and a quarter inch floppy disk drive to really ramp your loading times up. If you weren’t lucky, you got the tape drive. Yep, that’s right millennials: a tape drive. Literally, a cassette tape to load the game onto the computer, if you could call it a computer.
You would have to wait in endless anticipation for your game to load, and kids in the 80s had patience, not like modern standards, where a little loading bar pops up, or a whirly circle or any other clever animation to distract you from the fact that loading takes time.
Even when it doesn’t, you can hear the collective impatience of gamer brats moaning at their PS3 as it builds a 3D virtual universe right in front of their gaunt, translucent, Tim Tam smeared faces in less than 30 seconds, with its Bowel of Mordor 3.2 Gigahertz furnace of processing power, but for these “I want it yesterday!” kids, it’s just too slow. Hurry up!
The Commodore 64 had a 1.023 Megahertz processor, and there is nothing “mega” about that speed. But, OMG, it was worth it. The Commodore 64 was far more than a games console, it was next-level computing awesomeness for middle-class kids who knew the graceful art of whining, like an extra in Kindergarten Cop, to get what they want from their parents, and when they did; bikes in the shed, homework done: “I wanna play on the ’puter!!!”
To put in perspective here is a comparison of specs from the Commodore 64 compared with a Galaxy S3 Smart Phone:
Laughable, isn’t it? This 1.8kg beast would bow the coffee table when you set it up, and the connecting cable looked more like something you’d plug into a three-phase on a construction site. And, that’s right, it’s not a typo – 16 colours, that’s it. sixteen mind-boggling, epilepsy-inducing, awe-inspiring colours. Compare the Samsung Galaxy S3, with its 16 million colours and at 133 grams, it’s over 10 times lighter and fits in your pocket. The Commodore 64 was a behemoth.
If you tried fitting this bad boy in your pocket; one, you would need massive pockets. Two, if you did manage to walk down the driveway, your hip would displace far enough to require three weeks in traction, which you wouldn’t mind because you’d get to play Commodore 64 all day, every day for three weeks... in traction. OK, OK, there’re a few cons, but the pros are worth it.
The point is, we’ve come a long way. Astronomical leaps and bounds in technology since the humble days of the Commodore 64. Actually, the Commodore 64 was a quantum leap in computational power considering 36 years earlier in 1946, J. Presper Eckert invented the first ever ENIAC computer with a footprint of 1,800 square feet, 18,000 Vacuum tubes and weighing in at 50 tonnes. The literal Megalodon of computers, and it took hours to calculate simple equations. Try sticking around to watch that one load, millennials.
Now, the power is in our pocket, we have access to every single bit of information, every record, every moment in history, anything you want to know about any subject, mind-blowing information at our fingertips, and all we do is swipe right, selfie, swipe left, upskirt, watch cat video. Go figure.