I was talking on a social network and someone asked why I would still think about performances now that storing devices are so cheap compared to the volume of data they can keep.
So with a pair of friends we reminisced about the time when our computers had only 40 Mb of hard drive and 4 Mb of memory. And this was a behemoth back in 1988, when most PCs had only 1 Mb of RAM!
Did it crash often?, a young person asked. Actually, no, not so often. I had Windows 3.0, Word 5-something for Windows and Excel 2, if memory serves. Also it was the time when I learned about vector graphics through CorelDraw, and bitmap graphics with Corel PhotoPaint and Paint Shop Pro.
I ended up saying this is one more reason why I’m appalled at the expense of memory at the disposal of today’s computers, and how slow they still feel. I know of course that any computer feels slow very soon after you’ve bought it, due to your getting used to its relative speed, but yet. Optimisation was everywhere at the time.
Some of our younger readers may not know it, but we often had special boot diskettes for each and every game we wanted to play, because we had to optimise everything: what went to extended memory, what went to (what was it again) another type of memory. We would call EMM386 and HIMEM in a very special order so as to optimise what went from the first 640 Kb to the first 1 Mb, and then what went from 1 Mb to 4Mb, if I remember correctly. We would load (or not, depending on the game) drivers for the mouse, for sound, for lush 256-colours graphics. (This paragraph is dedicated to Brice who inspired it! Hi Brice!)
And now, the only place where optimisation still happens drastically, it seems, is the Web (more on that soon by the way, tomorrow I’ll talk about Firefox Quantum – update: here we go, Firefox 57).
Ah, the time we spent – or lost, depending on how you see it.