There's an old adage in the auto industry that says your vehicle loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot. The computer and technology industry is not so different, in that new parts and systems are constantly pushing the envelope of performance and value, making it impossible to have a top-of-the-line system for very long. The purpose of this paper is to step back in time 10 years and examine the technology landscape then to see how it compares to today's technologies we know and love.
Much has been written, and much is still debated about the technology axiom called; Moore's Law. Some people interpret the law to mean a doubling of computer power every 18 months to 2 years, while others maintain it means a doubling of the numbers of transistors (microscopic on / off switches if you will) engineers are able to print into the same amount of silicon. In fact Moore stated that transistor counts would double every year, which he later adjusted to be every 2 years) Regardless, this trend of performance and transistor growth has held true for over 40 years.
More recently, Moore's law has been applied to graphics processing units (GPUs) as well. The GPU is actually not even 10 years old at the time of writing. The official term GPU was coined with the nVidia GeForce 256 series of 3D cards. Released in August 1999, this was the first chip that was able to compute vertex transformations and pixel lighting in hardware. Since its release, graphics processing power has followed a similar trend of doubling performance every 18 months to 2 years. This article is not a technical document, rather a glimpse into the past 10 years ago to give you an idea of how far we've come in such a short time.
A Little History About the Author:
The year was 1999. It was my sophomore / junior year in high school. Now I'll pause so that 90% of the readers who grow up in the 70s and 80's can turn up their nose and stop reading.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's continue.
I am an internet child. I got into computers, and all manner of electronic geekery just as the Internet was becoming something that "just might catch on". My high school was not quite on the boring edge of technology as it was, but we were one of the first public schools in my area to be equipped with a full T1 line and the 1.5Mbps of awesome dedicated bandwidth that it piped through the network . Our network was built from a hodge-podge mixture of nice PC computers labs (mostly K6 200MHz / Win 95 machines), and a network engineers nightmare concoction of Macintoshes; LC II's up through new G3 iMacs.
In 1999 I was still rocking a 486 DX-33 PC with 8MB of ram and Windows 3.11 as my PC at home, while my parents had a nice …