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June 2001: Paul Smith writes... On getting old and smelly
I'm in retrospective mood this month, and oddly, also looking in the opposite direction, thus (what is the opposite of retrospective? Anti-retrospective? Ah, of course, Spective) I've been feeling Spective too.
My thoughts were triggered by the realisation that at the age of 29½, I look more like the Pope than I look like Brad Pitt, no matter how nice a shirt I put on. What happened to my boyish good looks (if any) and where have all the years gone?
I joined this crazy business we call IT (with the occasional addition of a 'SH') at the tender age of 21 after receiving a systems-crash course from my old school mate Philip, who worked for Dixons at the time. Since then I've been employed by seven firms selling PC's or bits of PC's, and by one, briefly (they closed the branch) selling Mobile Phones. Ironically I had a PC to help me do this job, which I hated. The job, not the PC.
By 1994 I was selling 486* SX25's with 4Mb of RAM and 240Mb hard drives to the unsuspecting people of Aylesbury. A few short months later it was DX2-66 / 8 / 540's that were all the rage. And now, some 7 years later it's all P4 1.7Ghz CPUs, 256Mb DIMMs and 60Gb drives. That's a 7000% figure increase in 84 months. It makes you think, doesn't it? I'm not quite sure what it makes you think, but I'm positive that's what it does.
So, using the original mid-90's mystic ratio of RAM capacity to CPU speed to Hard Drive capacity (approx. 1:7:60) we see that over the years drive capacities have grown four-fold in relation to CPU performance and memory requirements. Projecting these figures, logically by 2008 we should all be selling P9 120Ghz systems, with 16Gb of Ram and 15 Terabytes of storage onboard. Scary, but also scarily plausible. Unless something unspeakable happens to me before then, I'll be 36½ and just 1300 days away from being 40, and receiving a comedy 'Over the Hill' coffee mug.
What can we learn from this? Only that the only way to avoid getting older is dying, that an industry which stands still is an industry which vanishes (look at Fletching) and you can't turn the clock back, no matter how attractive the shirt you put on is. And while my life has been a roller coaster ride resulting in premature ageing and an air of 'just being pleased to be here', Philip still has the same job with Dixons.
Something possibly more productive than nostalgia to try this summer are Digital Camcorders. An ideal line to try alongside video capture cards and editing software. We stock various models, including one Canon for about £850 ex. VAT which retails in your favourite High Street stores for £1099.99 (Prices correct as of 17/05/01).
*For any children of the 90's reading this, 486's were a sort of pre-Pentium(tm). They can still be found holding doors open in remote rural areas.
Although Paul Smith works for Ingram Micro, the views expressed in this column are very much his personal ones.
501 randomly chosen words from my head, Dale. Invoice to follow!
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