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20 years of the P. C. : Has software been held back by hardware limitations, or have hardware developments been held back by shortcomings in software??”

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Peter Patterson Co314 21/11/2000 "20 years of the P. C. : Has software been held back by hardware limitations, or have hardware developments been held back by shortcomings in software??" Within twenty years the Personal Computer has developed at an astonishing rate. Both hardware and software have progressed beyond the expectation from twenty years ago. The two classes are so dependent on each other, as one can not function without the other, that developments in one have affected and forced developments in the other. Though if two classes are so dependent on each other then for one to improve in design, development and function then the other must follow. This unfortunately means that if one is going slower in development then it will hold the other one back as a consequence. From 1980 the first P. C. was properly marketed by Seattle Computer Products. In 1981 the first IBM PC was on sale to companies and even the wealthy public. This PC had 32 Kila Bytes of RAM , which compared to the average 128 Mega Bytes of RAM in today's PC's, indicates how small the hardware development was at in the early 80's. ...read more.


This was because their software already used the full capacity of the CPU. Any new operating system would have the same similar constraints of the hardware, new faster and smaller hardware was needed before any radical new software could really be created. Once a new hardware device is developed, history has shown, that programmers were then able to create new software that could benefit from this new introduction. This proof can be shown by the release of Microsoft Windows 3.0 in 1990 which was one of the first operating systems to use G.U.I., a function that would benefit greatly through the development of a new CPU. Windows 3.0 was released in the same year as the 80486 and had planned for being used alongside it. Then in 1992, two years after the release of the 80486, IBM's OS/2 2.0 was released. This software fully utilised the 80486's capabilities. Within a very short time the software was already requiring new faster hardware, this though was forthcoming. The speed of software development was shown again when Microsoft Windows 98 was introduced to run on the previous years latest CPU, the Intel Pentium II, which showed itself to be largely inadequate to the task. ...read more.


Research and testing are then also more expensive for hardware. The design in miniaturisation of hardware to create faster response times can partly be blamed on the software development though, this is because some hardware design is dependent on very specialised software applications. This shows that it is two sided because the speed of hardware and software development are relational to each other. So as one gets slower then the other will also be affected. Although software development is being held back by more constraints in hardware development, a new trend is coming to light. It is now commonly expected by the computer industry that the rate of increase of CPU power is changing at an exponential rate. While in 1987 it took three years for the next generation CPU to be released, it is now as low as a year or less apart in the release of a new faster CPU. Computer experts say that the way the trend is going, by around the year 2050 software will not be able to be developed to utilise the complete capacity of the new hardware that will be developed then at any kind of the speed that it is currently at. However, within the last twenty years, and especially the last ten, the software has been held back by limitations in the PC hardware. ...read more.

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