The Bad Old Days

Young people may not appreciate just how dramatic the increase in computer power has been. Here is an unretouched photograph of an ancient Greek vase showing an early laptop in use. Note how the user must rely on a primitive stylus rather than using his fingers:


No kidding, this really is an unretouched photo of an ancient Greek vase! The trick is that the device on which he is writing is a wax tablet. This consisted of a wooden frame into which a layer of wax had been laid down. The user writes text onto the wax, and can later erase it by warming and smoothing the wax. The frame had a hinged wooded cover to keep the wax clean and protect any writing on the wax. The device was primarily for students learning to write, but could also be used for recording short notes until they could be committed to paper. 

On a more serious level, the amount of progress that has been made just in the last 40 years is still staggering. For example, the amount of processing power in an Apple Magic Mouse exceeds that of an Apple II:

Even more striking is the fact that an iPhone has nearly a thousand times more computational power than the fastest mainframe computer from the 1970s, the Cray 1:

Think about it.