|Filed under Hacks & mods;|
Last week was the beginning of the semester at Emerson College, where I teach a graduate course on electronic publishing. To give my students context, I start each semester with a history of computers, the Internet, and data storage. That last aspect includes a brief mathematics lesson about binary, bits, and bytes, as well as how they scale to kilo, mega, giga, tera, and beyond.
Sometimes, even I need a reminder of just how massive the difference is in the scale between the Apple II and modern computers. The latest model of iMac Pro debuted last month, and with 11 times more memory than an Apple II, said one Twitter user. That's not surprising: early models of Apple II shipped with 48K of RAM, so 11 times that would be only 528K, or a bit more than half a megabyte.
But what Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, Apple employee #66, was referring to wasn't a comparison of a single Apple II to a single iMac Pro — but every Apple II ever, combined:
My new iMac Pro, with 64 GB RAM and 4TB SSD has 11 times as many bytes of electronic memory as the Apple II, and by "Apple II," I mean the total of all electronic memory ever installed in all six million Apple II computers ever made
— Bruce Tog Tognazzini (@asktog) January 4, 2018
It's an impressive comparison — but is it true? Let's check the math. Six million Apple II computers at 48K each is 288,000,000 kilobytes of RAM, or 281,250 megabytes, or 274 gigabytes. Hmm… that's not quite right. Let's work backwards: 64 gigabytes is 67,108,864 kilobytes, divided by six million is 11 kilobytes each.
I don't have a precise number for the average amount of stock memory shipped over the lifespan of the Apple II and its various models, but I would guess it was more than 11K. Perhaps Tog is taking into account other factors, like SSD storage… but it still doesn't seem an Apples-to-Apples comparison.
Also, your math is WAY off. The IIe sold the most but around 11M Apple II based computers were sold. Even if we go by 6M. Most had AT LEAST 64K. 64K * 6M = 366 GB. Or, you including storage? Which would be MUCH GREATER than 366 GB.
— cbmeeks (@cbmeeks) January 9, 2018
But I appreciate Tog's intent, which may be more applicable to that hard drive. 4TB of storage is equal to 15,339,168 double-sided, 5.25;" 140K floppy disks. That's a lot of disks! I wonder how many floppy disks were ever made?
I'd love to get an unusual yet mathematically sound comparison of these two platforms' attributes that would help my students understand how far we've come. Please leave a comment with your suggestions!