How Computers Shrunk in the Last Seven Decades

Look at your grandmother or any senior citizen in their late 70s – and see that they were born in a world where computers were not invented yet. The first general purpose computer – ENIAC – was built in the late 1940s, and it was used for a series of things from calculating the feasability of the hydrogen bomb to calculating artillery firing tables for the United States Army. It was a huge step ahead in computing, and took up a huge space – 680 square feet (over 60 square meters).

In the seven decades that have passed ever since computers have shrunk a lot. It took computers almost 20 years to find their way into people’s living rooms (the first home computer, Programma 101, was launched in 1965), and they became the predominant type of personal computer in the 1980s and 1990s. Their computational speed has grown exponentially, though – more and more performance, disk space and memory was crammed under a smaller and smaller hood with each passing year. The first computers were not strong enough to download Royal Vegas online casino, while a few years later they outperformed the supercomputers of the time. But the next step in the evolution of computers was just a few years away – by the early 2000s portability became the new trend, triggering the desktop computer’s slow but steady decline.

The early 2000s brought several new concepts into the world of personal computers. The first pocket computers appeared, as well as the first tablets and netbook-sized units. Smartphones have also launched first in these times – basically PDAs (personal digital assistants) with phone functionality built into them. The netbooks came and went, proving to be an unworthy concept, as well as PDAs, giving way to smartphones and tablet computers in the late 2000s. The iPhone and the iPad changed the way people looked at home and portable computers. Desktop computers are still around, but their proportion has diminished a lot in the last few years.

Today we are at the brink of a new revolution that might mean the disappearance of the desktop computer from our schools and businesses. The products that could finish the job started by laptops in the early 2000s are PSs-on-a-stick, small form factor computers that easily fit into people’s pockets, yet provide a performance high enough to be perfect for educational and business purposes (except for some specific ones that require much more power). These small computers have everything a larger one has – local storage, video processing, RAM, connectivity and so on – and due to the generalized use of mobile internet and cloud services it provides access to everything from homework to reports, from accounting to schedule – and all they need is a display with an HDMI port to function (and some peripherals, like a keyboard and mouse).

As you can see, the computer has shrunk from 680 square feet to the size of a candy bar. And there is no telling how much smaller it will become in the coming years.