What to expect

In this chapter I look at the construction of a computer, from von Neumann and Turing to the ARM chip. Pictured above is a “mumble-tub” mercury delay line memory store from the 1951 UNIVAC computer at UPenn.

Friends” Season 2 Episode 8, “The one with the list”, first aired November 1995

Chandler: All right, check out this bad boy. Twelve megabytes of RAM, 500 megabyte hard drive. Built-in spreadsheet capabilities and a modem that transmits at over 28,000 bps.
Phoebe: Wow. What are you gonna use it for?
Chandler: Games and stuff.

We may laugh, looking back now at Chandler’s “cutting edge laptop” but it serves as a useful illustration of “Moore’s Law”. The laptop I’m writing this book on has 8GB RAM, a 500 GB hard drive and 300 Mbps wireless networking, making it roughly a thousand times more powerful while costing less than a tenth of the price of Chandler’s, which the Friends Fandom claims was a 25 MHz Compaq Contura 4/25cx