The wonders of modern Technology

I was sitting here playing with my Treo 650 tonight, lamenting the 24 Megabytes of memory that prevents me from loading more applications (I am down to about 7 Megabytes). I recalled watching From the Earth to the Moon, the other night with my kid, and it got me to thinking…554_01.jpg

Here I am sitting with a little marvel of technology that allows me to make phone calls wirelessly almost anywhere in the world. I can keep my schedule, compose Microsoft Office compatible documents, surf the internet, and am always in touch with my email and SMS.

I wondered out loud, how much memory Apollo 11 had on its onboard Landing Module Computer…. So I googled it


“The on-board Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was about 1 cubic foot with 2K of 16-bit RAM and 36K of hard-wired core-rope memory with copper wires threaded or not threaded through tiny magnetic cores. The 16-bit words were generally 14 bits of data (or two op-codes), 1 sign bit, and 1 parity bit. The cycle time was 11.7 micro-seconds. Programming was done in assembly language and in an interpretive language, in reverse Polish. Scaling was fixed point fractional. An assembly language ADD took about 23.4 micro-seconds. The operating system featured a multi-programmed, priority/event driven asynchronous executive packed into 2K of memory. The Mean Time to Failure (MTBF) of the machine in a space environment was calculated at 50,000 hours — almost 6 years, and it never failed in flight operations. It was truly a marvel for its time, a tribute to M.I.T.’s designers, and it accomplished a most complex mission.”

38k…. That’s right… “k” not Megabytes, not Gigabytes, but “k.” I looked around my desk…. My watch has more memory than the craft that first landed man on the moon. In fact, my freaking toaster probably does… We’ve come a long way baby. The question one must ask is… What happened to simple elegant programming. I dont think a single application on my Treo would even fit into the memory of that glorious machine that fulfilled so many of our dreams and aspirations… And it didn’t even crash!

Originally posted to the Award winning ISOU Blog.

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