With or without us realizing, the technology has been improving significantly over the past 20 years. One of the most significant changes can be spotted in the improvement of computer technology. Computer nowadays has better performance, smaller size, and bigger capacity. On top of that, the improvements of computer technology make it possible to lower the cost of computers. All of those lead to many unimaginable capabilities of computer.
Before 1980, the idea of “computer for everyone” was considered as a very unlikely, if not an absurd idea. However, keep in mind that most of the advanced technology we have today started from a mere dream. It was IBM who made it possible by introducing the first computer intended for home usage, called “IBM PC (Personal Computer)” in the early 1980s. It is true that before IBM, several companies had already attempted to release a personal computer, but none of them shared the similar popularity as IBM PC. Since that time, the computer technology started to grow immensely.
In 1987, Intel introduced the first 32-bit processor 80386 which is the third generation of processor. During the next 20 years, the development of processor has been quite outstanding and nowadays we are quite familiar with the multi-core processor known as the 8th generation of processor. To practically compare the third generation processor and the 8th generation processor is virtually impossible, however, it is still possible to compare those two using a measurement of performance in MIPS (Million Instruction per Second) scale. The 80386 processor had the processing capability of 8.5 MIPS while the high-end processor introduced in 2006, Intel Core 2 Extreme is working at 57,063 MIPS, which is 6713 times faster. It is not even necessary to mention that there exists a prototype called “Intel Polaris” capable on working in 1,800,000 MIPS just to show that there is significant improvement in processor’s performance.
The capacity of computer has also been increasing rapidly. In approximately 20 years, hard drives (common non-volatile storages for computers) has evolved from a fifty two-foot diameter disks holding only five MB (5,000,000 bytes) of data to today’s drives at the size of 3.5 inches wide capable of storing one TB (1,000,000,000,000 bytes) or more. Moreover, the development of “flash memory” made it possible to have an even smaller device with decent storage capability. The smallest flash memory available commercially called microSD is only at 15mm x 11mm x 0.7mm, or about the size of a fingernail. Despite its physical size, it can store up to 8GB of data (around 1600 MP3 or 13 movies in VCD’s format!).
The most popular Operating System (OS) in the world, Microsoft Windows had only started in 1985. The first two unsuccessful versions of Windows were nowhere near the Windows we know today. They were barely called Operating System because they were merely extensions to the console-based MS-DOS and inherit the latter’s flaws and problems. The later version of Windows called the Microsoft Windows 3.0 scored a significant success. It was capable of running multi-task applications thanks to its new memory management. Another significant improvement was its user-friendly GUI (Graphical User Interface), making it possible for the PC users to enjoy better interface that previously only be enjoyed by the more exclusive Apple Macintosh users. The latest version of Microsoft Windows is called Vista that was released in 2006 as a replacement for Microsoft Windows XP. However, despite many new exciting features introduced in Vista, many people still reluctant to upgrade their system.
Computer technology may have changed a lot, however, the same thing may not necessarily true for human. Since 20 years ago, some programmers have been keeping on developing a certain useless and troublesome programs called computer virus. It is a program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. If anything different about developing virus 20 years ago and now, then it should be the motives. "The most significant change has been the evolution of virus writing hobbyists into criminally operated gangs bent on financial gain" said F-Secure's chief research officer Mikko Hypponen. Unfortunately, “This trend is showing no signs of stopping".