Computer proverbs for Fred Shapiro

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat Jun 15 18:31:33 UTC 2002

>From Andrew S. Tanenbaum and Maarten van Steen _Distributed Systems:
Principles and Paradigms_ Upper Saddle River, NJ USA:Prentice-Hall, 2002,
ISBN 0-13-088893-1
page 1, referring to computers
"From a machine that cost 100 million dollars and executed 1 instruction per
second, we have come to machines that cost 1000 dollars and are able to
execute 10 million instructions per second, a price/performance gain of
10^12.  If cars had imporved at this rate in the same time period, a Rolls
Royce would now cost 1 dollar and get a billion miles per gallon."

I have seen variations of this proverb (?) several times, so I think it safe
to declare it a folk saying.  This version has the advantage that the authors
have actually done his math (working backwards from the 10 to the 12th
improvement, we find his initial Rolls Royce cost 10,000 dollars and got 10
miles to the gallon, i.e. an improvement of 10^8 in milage and 10^4 in price.)

The authors then add an original comment of their own:" (Unfortunately, it
would probably also have a 200-page manual telling how to open the door.)"



If it's there and you can see it, it's REAL
If it's not there and you can see it, it's VIRTUAL
If it's there and you can't see it, it's TRANSPARENT
If it's not there and you can't see it, it's DELETED

The above I have only seen once, in the summer of 1984 (an office-mate who
was trying out a fancy plotter ran off copies in your choice of typeface,
including Greek), so I don't know if it's a one-shot or a folk saying.

      - Jim Landau

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