Double Your Memory, No Party Required

Adding memory to computers used to merit a party.

Many years ago, when I was at College, adding memory to computers was a Very Big Thing. There were only a handful of computers on campus. The two bigs ones had their own rooms. When we added a meg (256K of 36 bit words) of memory to our PDP-10, the memory arrived by truck in a box the size of a refrigerator, and took a week for two technicians to install (and we had to recompile the operating system). The new memory had its own box, with rows of blinking lights behind blackened glass. It looked cool. We had a party to celebrate.

Now, I click a few times and type in a credit card number, and two days later UPS delivers a small cardboard box with a half gigabyte of RAM. It takes five minutes to install, including rebooting. No party. It’s not that the fun has gone away; it’s just migrated to follow the bleeding edge.