Differences Between Generations of Computers

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For those individuals who've been alive long enough to watch the staggering pace of evolution in the world of computers, today's hardware seems to be an almost impossible fantasy compared to the computers being used only two decades ago. As processors have continued to shrink in size while gaining power and functionality at an exponential rate, many computer users have purchased "new" computers and sold them as obsolete relics a handful of years later. With that idea in mind, it may be a benefit for some to compare the different computer generations and learn precisely how newer computers are outperforming their predecessors.

Performance and Power

Perhaps one of the most significant differences between earlier generations of computers and today's powerful machines is related to processor speed. The central processing unit, or CPU, has been an integral part of computing technology since the earliest days of computer development. Although early CPUs relied on a complex series of boards and transistors, today's microprocessor-based units are capable of reaching dizzying performance speeds, measured in hertz. The number of actions that a CPU is capable of performing simultaneously is a benchmark of its prowess. Today's CPUs not only feature blisteringly fast clock speeds, but also include multiple cores for even higher degrees of functionality and performance.

Storage Hardware and Memory

In the late 1990s, the idea of hosting a gigabyte of storage space on your computer was breathtaking. Today, even relatively simple software applications may require multiple "gigs" of space. Hard drive storage is yet another area where newer generations of computers have completely overshadowed their "ancestors." Entry-level desktop systems today may feature hard drives with over 250 gigabytes of storage space. Likewise, the introduction of "solid state" drives has meant that users no longer have to worry about the wear and tear placed on a spinning hard drive.

Internet Connectivity Options

Accessing the internet is likely one of the most significant differences between today's computers and those from earlier generations. Whereas computers from only 15 years ago typically required wired connectivity to access the internet, WiFi connections are now taken for granted as a common element of daily computing. Although connecting to the internet may seem like a relatively simple process in today's era of computing, the ease with which we access the World Wide Web now would have been unthinkable when these services were first being rolled out on a consumer level in the 1990s. When you compare the different computer generations, it's astonishing to see just how far we've come.