Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Computer Prices and Speed: 1970 to 2007




An IBM mainframe computer in 1970 (pictured above) cost $4.6 million and ran at a speed of 12.5 MHz (12.5 million instructions per second), which is a cost of $368,000 per MHz. After the invention of the microprocessor in 1971, computer speeds increased exponentially (see post below), and computers costs fell exponentially.

Consider that a Dell computer today costs $550 (pictured above) and runs at a speed of 1.6 GHz (1600 million instructions per second), which is a cost of only 34 cents per MHz.

Bottom Line: Compared to today's desktops, mainframe computers were 128 times slower, more than 8,000 as expensive, and were more than 1 million times as expensive in terms of cost per MHz.


(Data are from the
Dallas Federal Reserve and Dell.com.)

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