'Halt And Catch Fire' Begs The Question: What Were Computers Like In The '80s? Not Great, Guys
Oh, how the times have changed. Computers used to be a hot commodity, but now it's deemed weird to meet a six year old who doesn't own a tablet or a laptop. However, thanks to AMC's new drama Halt and Catch Fire , the "ancient" ways of the 1980s (particularly the technology-related things) are being brought back for the present-day public to gawk at. The show is set to follow "the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s, during which a renegade trio — a visionary [Lee Pace], an engineer [Scoot McNairy] and a prodigy [Mackenzie Davis] — risk it all to realize their vision of building a computer that could change the future."
Whether Halt and Catch Fire is the new Mad Men or not, there's no doubt that it's going share similarities with its fellow AMC show: It's going to a highlight a time in history that's filled with prime outfits, rad slang, and, most importantly, new technology. And although, it's probably almost impossible to imagine getting through your everyday life without a MacBook Pro, somehow, people in the '80s totally managed to survive.
So what were these bad boys actually like in that tubular decade? Let's take a look (and laugh) at these outdated pieces of technology and their history:
The Internet wasn't a thing until the '90s.
While Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web in 1989, CERN, the company he was working for, didn't release the first Web server until the early '90s. So, uh, have fun doing absolutely nothing on your computer. (Imagine all of the things you could do with your life if you didn't have the Internet distracting you from the outside world.)
Um, computers didn't commonly come with a mouse until the mid '80s.
Just the thought of using keys to move around a screen makes me want to give up and never use a computer again.
And they weighed a lot... like a lot, a lot.
The first "portable" computer (1981) weighed 25 pounds, the first portable Macintosh computer (1989) weighed 16 pounds, and possibly the heaviest desktop computer (1980) weighed 105 pounds... and that's not including its 130-pound external floppy drive.
9-inch screens were a big deal.
The 1984 Apple Macintosh featured a built-in 9-inch B/W screen. Yeah, that's right — an entire 9 inches of black-and-white glory.
Computer games had some great graphics and noises.
No Internet meant there was a lot of time to play computer games. But be warned: You had to be okay with a lot of weird beeping sounds and some extremely rudimentary graphics.
Personal computers could be used to make bar charts and to store recipes.
Look at Apple trying to be all progressive and show that women can use computers, too.
The first 1GB hard drive was the size of a refrigerator.
IBM introduced the first gigabyte hard drive in 1980. It was the size of a refrigerator, weighed approximately 550 pounds, and cost $40,000. You can currently go on Amazon right now and buy a 500GB external hard drive for $49.99 with one click of a button. So, there's that.
Basically, computers from the '80s are so weird and confusing that kids from the 21st century have no clue what any of it does or means. These kids just can't even:
"If you don't have a desk, where do you put this?"