Just as we have run out of digits to describe computers in megahertz, the Pentium IV has arrived to usher in the era of the Gigahertz PC (i.e. 1000+ Megahertz). Dell, as usual, was first out of the gate with these new Intel based high-speed computers rated at 1.2 to 1.5 Gigahertz.
This increase in processing speed has seen the original PC using an 8086 processor running at 4.6 Megahertz run thru the 286, 386, 486, Pentium I, II, III & now IV series with clock speeds increasing over 300 times. A brief historical table also illustrates the typical changes in standard computer specifications over the same period.
Most systems evolved over time so the statistics relate to typical initial versions of each processor.
8086††††††††† ††††††††† 4.6 Mhz††††† 256k†††††††††† Floppy
80286††††††††††††††††† 6††† Mhz††††† 640k†††††††††† 20 Mb
80386††††††††††††††††† 16† Mhz††††† 1 Mb†††††††††† 70 Mb
80486††††††††††††††††† 25† Mhz††††† 4 Mb†††††††††† 120 Mb
Pentium I†† ††††††††† 60† Mhz††††† 16 Mb†††††††† 500 Mb
Pentium II† ††††††††† 233 Mhz†††† 32 Mb†††††††† 2 Gb
Pentium III ††††††††† 450 Mhz†††† 64 Mb†††††††† 8 Gb
Pentium IV ††††††††† 1.2 Ghz††††† 128 Mb††††† 20 Gb††††††††
Increases in Processor speed as well as Ram, Bus & Hard Drive speeds have made computers considerably faster than their earlier ancestors.
Unfortunately the continuing evolution of Microsoft Windows 95, 98 & Millennium Edition as well as Windows NT & 2000 Professional have done their best to negate a good deal of the† advantages that Intel & others have provided.
Nonetheless, todayís computers can do much more out of the box for far less money than any of their predecessors. Most come with a broad selection of productivity & utility software as well as built in networking and internet capabilities and that makes them excellent value for the money.
In recent years the distinction between what you could do on your computer and what you did during your time off has blurred somewhat. You can now surf the net, e-mail friends, play games, listen to music or watch a movie on your computer. Various digital technologies are making these things a reality at amazing speed. Where this affects business primarily is in the area of non-productive computerized alternatives to work.
For some time now, we have had the ability to play CDís on our computers while we work. To some extent this might even have been deemed a productivity benefit while employees toiled on long projects after hours. Similarly the Internet and e-mail have provided productivity gains in some areas. Unfortunately, like most things that people get their hands on, many employees have used these computer tools to do things other than what was intended for them by their employers.
For many companies the unauthorized use of Games, the Internet and E-mail has become a significant problem. In the past if an employee was seen typing away at their computer you were fairly sure that they were doing some sort of work. Nowadays they might be checking out the Survivor Web Site, swapping jokes via e-mail, playing solitaire or even watching a DVD movie.†
On at least one occasion I had to recover files from a personís computer that during two weeks of employment contained no less than 500 personal e-mails from an assortment of friends who were doing the same thing at their place of work. Now it might be argued that the occasional personal e-mail, like the occasional personal phone call, is not a big problem, but these things are by nature far more difficult to police, and more and more companies are placing serious restrictions on their use. Some even employ programs to monitor Internet activities of users.