86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore. You Won't Believe Who Wins

The Most Outlandish Computer Comparison Ever!

Bloat. If you think that Americans are getting fatter, take one good look at the operating system (OS) your computer is running right now. It gets larger and more weighed down with every update. We are in the third decade of global personal computing, and have we really progressed that far?

Let's go back to the dawn of personal computing and grab an old sentimental favorite, the Apple Macintosh Plus. The Mac Plus is an icon of the '80s along with padded shoulders, big hair and Devo. It seems that we all had a little Mac, either in our college dorm room, in the upstairs bedroom, or on our office desk at some time. With its tiny 9-inch black & white screen and all-in-one packaging, the Mac Plus is a computing relic in the days of widescreen LCD monitors and dual- and quad-core systems.

Nobody's ever been crazy enough to do this!
Nobody's ever been crazy enough to do this!
The vintage Mac Plus sitting on its external hard drive.
The vintage Mac Plus sitting on its external hard drive.
The insides of the Mac Plus, 1980's technology at its finest.
The insides of the Mac Plus, 1980s technology at its finest.
The innards of a modern computer. It helps when you don't have to fit a CRT into the case!
The innards of a modern computer. It helps when you don't have to fit a CRT into the case!
A Hitachi 21" CRT Monitor. The old black & white external Mac Ikegami 24" were even bigger!
A Hitachi 21" CRT Monitor. The old black & white external Mac Ikegami 24" were even bigger!
OK, so it's not very big or colourful. But it gets the job done!
OK, so it's not very big or colourful. But it gets the job done!
Windows XP's desktop takes you to tropical "Vistas".
Windows XP's desktop takes you to tropical "Vistas".

However, to run these state-of-the-art PCs, we need to install one of the latest OSs. And that's where we run into trouble. Most people today have either Windows XP or Vista on their PCs. These OSs are modern, possess virtually infinite capacities and can run any of the most modern software. With the greater functionality comes size.

The Comparison

The generally recommended configuration for a Mac Plus is System 6.0.8. This is an OS that needs a legitimate minimum of 1 megabyte of RAM to be able to multitask, connect to a network, print, display WYSIWYG in millions of colours (on modular Macs), as well as run a reasonable GUI. Those are functions that usually require at least 500 times more memory under Windows XP and 1,000 times more memory under Windows Vista.

When we look at OS hard disk requirements, we find similar discrepancies. System 6.0.8 requires 1MB, Windows XP requires 1.5GB and Windows Vista 15GB. Yes, Vista needs 15,000 times the hard disk space as System 6.0.8. In simple text format, you can write 175,000 words in one megabyte which is the size of System 6.0.8. That works out to about two full-length novels. Windows Vista demands enough real estate on your hard drive that you could easily fit 30,000 full-length novels into it.

System 6.0.8 is not only a lot more compact since it has far fewer (mostly useless) features and therefore less code to process, but also because it was written in assembly code instead of the higher level language C. The lower the level of the code language, the less processing cycles are required to get something done.

The Mac Plus has a Motorola 68000 CPU running at 8MHz. The AMD has an Athlon 64 X2 4800+ with two cores, each running at 2.4GHz. In absolute computing power exclusively measured in processor speed, AMD's combined 4.8GHz is 600 times faster than the Motorola. However, the AMD is a far more advanced processor, thus performs in conventional benchmarks much faster than the old 68000 per Mhz. So it's very safe to say that the AMD is at least 1,000 times faster than the Mac Plus.

We decided to splurge and fit the maximum possible 4MB RAM into the old Plus. After all it was going up against AMD with its 2x512MB RAM for a total of 1,024MB or 1GB. That's about 250 times more memory than the Mac.

The Mac was fitted with an external SCSI 40MB Hard Drive. The AMD had an internal IDE 120GB Hard Drive with a 3,000 times greater data capacity. Both drives were under 10% filled.

The Tests

In order to keep the hoots and hollers of "unfair comparison" at a minimum, we designed the tests to be as fair and equitable as possible. There was no point running PCMark or Sandra Sisoft-type benchmarks on the two computers as the AMD would have the Mac for lunch. We focussed on running tests that reflect how the user perceives the computing experience. After all, most users don't know or care whether their computer has a 65nm dual-core CPU or a tiny midget wizard squatting in their cases. All they care about is how it works and how quickly it does the tasks we most often ask it to do. And no, we didn't include processing-heavy modern software like Photoshop or Crysis! We selected very basic everyday functions that were performed equally by the 1980s and the 2007 Microsoft applications.

Since the tests involve both different computers and different versions of software, it was important to design the tests to have as much consistency as possible.

1) Test timings were performed by a single person.

2) All of the tests were performed on the latest and most effective OS configuration. For the Mac Plus, that was System 6.0.8. For the AMD that was Windows XP Professional SP2.

3) All of the tests were performed with a generally recommended amount of RAM for the OS configuration. For the Mac Plus, that was 4MB. For the AMD that was 1GB.

4) All of the tests were done on original spec systems, therefore the hard disks were freshly formatted, the OSs just installed and no third party software beyond the standard Apple and Microsoft installations.

5) All of the tests were performed with only that single application open. Nothing but background and OS tasks that are part of a standard install of either OSs were running. The computers were not connected to the Internet or a LAN.

6) All of the tests were measured to within 0.1 second.

7) Each tests was performed at least three times per test per machine and the times averaged out.

The tests themselves went off flawlessly. Neither computer crashed or misbehaved in any way. They just did what they were asked, regardless of the technolgical advancements (or lack thereof) inside the case.

We didn't try any Web Surfing since the only browsers that are supposed to work well on the Mac Plus are Mozilla 1.2.1, Mozilla 1.3.1 and early versions of WannaBe and iCab. We thought that surfing the net on a b&w 9” screen would be a bit of a bummer, so we skipped it. However, there are some die-hard enthusiasts that are doing just that!

Then again there were various ways, including the Power R Video Driver Cable and various external dongles, which would let you connect all sorts of large external monitors to the Mac Plus. I remember lugging huge 80 lb. Ikegami 24” b&w monitors up and down stairs as they were the preferred screens for the later compact Macs like the SEs an SE/30s of publishing art departments around 1990. The photo of the monitor here is of a Hitachi 21” which was the biggest one I could find. Just picture that the Ikegamis were much bigger even than this monster! I guess that's why I still have a bad back!

We ran a variety of tests on two major software applications. The AMD got Word and Excel from Microsoft Office 2007. The Mac Plus got Word 3.01 and Excel 1.5. Yes, we know that these software versions were released one and two years respectively after the 1986 Mac Plus. But we just couldn't bring ourselves to run the earlier and hopelessly buggy versions.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is the single software application most often used by people around the world. The tests that hold the greatest relevance to everyday office and personal use of Word are the most basic ones: Application Launch, Find & Replace, Open File, Pasting, Saving, Scrolling, Typing and Word Count.

Microsoft Excel

With Excel, we concentrated again on the most repetitive and common tasks. We chose: Application Launch, Arrange Windows, Autoformat, Fill Range, In-Cell Editing, Scroll Vertical, Subtotals and Zoom Out. Most users use relatively small spreadsheets so we used a 640 filled-cell format.

Time To Boot

Just for fun, we thought we'd throw in a Boot timing as well, just to see how long the OS takes from the time the button is pushed until the desktop is ready to use.

Conclusion

Check out the results! For the functions that people use most often, the 1986 vintage Mac Plus beats the 2007 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+: 9 tests to 8! Out of the 17 tests, the antique Mac won 53% of the time! Including a jaw-dropping 52 second whipping of the AMD from the time the Power button is pushed to the time the Desktop is up and useable.

We also didn't want to overly embarrass the AMD by comparing the time it takes to install the OS vs. the old Mac. The Mac's average of about a minute is dwarfed by the approximately one hour install time of Windows XP Pro.

Is this to say that the Mac Plus is a better computer than the AMD? Of course not. The technological advancements of 21 years have placed modern PCs in a completely different league of varied capacities. But the "User Experience" has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don't even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages. When we compare strictly common, everyday, basic user tasks between the Mac Plus and the AMD we find remarkable similarities in overall speed, thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity.

And that's just plain crazy.

 

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Comments 322 comments

Marek Sumara 9 years ago

:)  I do enjoy these sort of articles, as they remind us of the essential nature of the user experience and computers.  More Gee-Whiz is fine, but productivity definitely takes a hit.  I'm a total Apple activist, but even I would be interested in seeing this comparison run again with a new Mac Pro / iMac / MacMini just for the heck of it.  


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Marek Sumara. I'm pretty sure that the results would be somewhat similar if comparing the Mac Plus vs. a modern Mac. The one benchmark that would be different would be the bootup time as Macs are generally way faster than the twiddle-yer-thumbs Windows startups. The basic onus of this comparison was not to disgrace the AMD DualCore which is a great uarch, but to show that in more than two decades we really have not progressed at all when it comes to having computers help us do more in each day. Most people use Office apps, and today's computers are not really any more efficient in those basic measures of productivity than when we were watching "Life With Lucy" on ABC-TV!


Tom Lee 9 years ago

Wonderful article. Brought back fond memories of using the Plus.

One minor nit: I'm sure other retrotech enthusiasts will point out that none of the browsers you mentioned will actually run on a Plus. And for sys6.0.8, there is only one: Samba (MacWWW). For sys7, there's MacWeb1.x and 2.x and a couple of others, but only MacLynx supports the HOSTS extension to allow access to virtually hosted sites. I wish that wannabe had a version for the Plus, but alas, none exists.


Ruhayat 9 years ago

I agree, Hal. For most working people, a PC running Windows 98, Office 97 and Firefox on a 800MHz Celeron (or better) with 512MB RAM, 40GB hard disk and integrated graphics/sound/network chipset is probably already at the limit of usefulness. It would also be darned fast compared to today's bloated XP machines, with or without dual core.

In fact, I recently "downgraded" my admin assistant's "workstation" to a 400MHz Celeron which I got dirt cheap (as in, free -- someone was getting rid of it). Thanks for making me feel good about that decision.


marc 9 years ago

You could talk also about electrical power consumption...


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Tom Lee. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I definitely will stand corrected on the browser issue. As I wrote in the review, this was a list of the browsers that were "supposed" to work as we didn't test any of them. It's quite obvious that the 2007 PC would have an enormous edge in a web comparison. Surfing the web on a Plus might be a bit of a painful experience, especially since most sites today are optimized for 1024x768!


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Ruhayat. I agree that with some careful OS and application selection a very large number of computers that are currently in junkyards could still be useful. It really all depends on what the computer is asked to do. As I mentioned in the piece, we weren't about to run Photoshop or Crysis as those are examples of enormous hunks of software that make huge demands on the hardware. However, when I walk through an office, I see most people doing very little other than entering cells or writing reports. We certainly don't need Teraflops to do that! With the amazing power of today's computers, we should be able to have graduated well past the standard GUI and into an interface that reads our minds! :)

Hi, Marc. Yes, the current draw of the two computers is quite different. Under normal loads, the Mac will likely draw 1/3 the electricity of the AMD. Some dual and quad core PCs with powerful video cards require 1000W power supplies! However, they're not likely to overheat and break their solder joints creating the evil compact Mac "vertical line of death" down the screen! :)


Glaise 9 years ago

Hi !

Interesting article. Yes, the Mac Plus could get things done. As concerns Word processing, there was a fabulous application fot the Mac called WriteNow which was much faster than Word. Truly amazing, in fact. To this day, I still keep a Mac Plus in working order in a closet.


Anndra 9 years ago

Another interesting test would be a 1986 PC vs a modern Mac...


MysterGag 9 years ago

Very interesting comparison as user's experience is true life. I'm always amaze as how much memory it takes today to run a computer be it Mac or PC. And so true...how many functions and software installed by default or with each peripherals installed afterward that people doesn't even know the existence on their computer taking valuable ressources out for good use. Not saying that those soft are of no use, but if not used by the user...what the use!!

If I may had any negative comment about the comparison is why the Windows vs Mac again.....old PC with a modern one will tend toward the same conclusion. Old Mac vs modern Mac too. Or old PC (be it with a GUI) versus modern MAC. There was no use putting in the Windows-Pc versus MAC bashing for this one. Quite annoying


Atari Amigan 9 years ago

Neat article. I second the idea of a 1986 PC vs. a modern Mac.


Alcide 9 years ago

Fine article ! Thanks a lotI'll come back to my first mac classic...I will win time, money and ill will not be perturbated by internet , msn or orther losting time stuf...Unfortunatelly, my brand new macbook pro is a very nice machine....


mikek 9 years ago

I miss my SE. It rocked.


Darren Maxwell 9 years ago

This is a very tempting argument. But I think it is just as valid to say "Most people have not integrated computers into their life to where the advances matter to them".

A good comparison may be the medical implant industry. While new artificial, hearts, pacemakers, insulin regulating systems and the like, don't improve the quality of life for the AVERAGE person. When they are required they are Amazing.

While I don't want to dismantle every point, I think it is valid to note that many of your pro-mac arguments go back to the age old "Mac is better, because its easier". Once you accept that argument, then you can also accept that using a $3 arithmetic calculator is better than using a $25 scientific calculator...True, but you reveal more about yourself than the tools.

As far as time to boot to desktop: Go get a drink of water. That will probably render the differences irrelavant. I enjoy my two to three reboots a day...but then again I like computers intrinsically. So I prefer power over convenience. Each new generation of computers is more powerful than the last. Its up to the consumer to purchase what they need & utilize it best.


Matt Walsh 9 years ago

My take is that there is a point of performance where people are happy, and beyond that they don't get much happier. Yes, I remember owning a 64k Atari and imagining the future when the entire OS would fit in ROM, and all your apps would fit in RAM. Imagine that - zero boot time and no disk load waits. And that was anticipating like a DOUBLING of RAM; today's 2GB computer has 300,000x the RAM! And you can't do ANYTHING on a computer without causing disk access. What happen!? Clearly consumers seem satisified with current levels of performance.


Evan 9 years ago

"We selected very basic everyday functions that were performed equally by the 1980's and the 2007 Microsoft applications."

Interesting stuff, thanks.

Maybe it goes without saying, but I think it's reasonable to say that what people consider "basic everyday functions" have evolved enormously. For many people, "everyday functions" now includes: storing, finding, and sharing every piece of music I own, every photo I take, and every home video I shoot. Plus keeping in touch with all my friends, by multiple channels including voice chat, possibly simultaneously. While watching streaming video of last night's "Heroes" while downloading a few hundred Megs of files.


hupp 9 years ago

"As far as time to boot to desktop: Go get a drink of water. That will probably render the differences irrelavant."

Even better - use that sleep/suspend feature that most modern comps have.


Paul Winalski 9 years ago

An interesting and entertaining article. In these days of galloping featurism (one can hardly call it "creeping" anymore) we forget how few resources are really required to accomplish many common computing tasks.

I do take issue with one comment, however:

"System 6.0.8 is not only a lot more compact since it has far fewer (mostly useless) features and therefore less code to process, but also because it was written in assembly code instead of the higher level language C. The lower the level of the code language, the less processing cycles are required to get something done."

The observation about C versus hand-written assembly code was perhaps true at the time that System 6.0.8 was written, and for the simpler microprocessor that the Mac Plus used. It is decidedly not the case for modern compiler technology and modern microprocessors, where the fastest code sequence is often far from obvious. Few programmers can afford to take the time to study the execution models of the machines they write code for. Most of those who do take the time are busy writing compilers for the rest of us.


Mike Walker 9 years ago

I work using a Dell dual Xenon 2.8 with 3 gig of mem and a 160 gig hard drive. The fastest computer i ever used was a 20 mhz Harris 286 with a math co-pro and 4 meg of mem. on DOS running Autocad 10.0, visicalc or wordstar it was chain lightning.


Carl Hage 9 years ago

Was the Windows machine running Norton/Macafee anti-virus? That slows down the machines by a factor of 2 or so, except when it takes over the machine and starts scanning, then is 1000 times slower. Too bad reviewers don't test anti-virus software on a 3 year old basic machine.


Tristan Yates 9 years ago

Every writer in the 80s and 90s used a Macintosh.  The original macintosh was way ahead of its time, and Windows didn't catch up until the mid 90s, and only because Apple was being run by people who weren't Steve Jobs.  Then writers started getting experience with PCs, and now they're comfortable with either platform, although many still prefer Macs because they're less buggy.


cybershark 9 years ago

I think the main issue you're missing here is that the user is the speed limiter. If you scripted all the events and let the machines run at their own pace you'll find the differences will emerge. Also if you increase the amount of data in your examples the newer machine will obviously shine.

You limit your tasks to everyday things that the PC and the mac share in common. You might as well say there is no difference between the wright flyer and an F-14. They both only hold 2 people and use petroleum based fuel...lets ignore the fact that the tomcat has far more capabilities that he wright flyer could never dream of


qqpq 9 years ago

I question your boot time. Maybe Office 07 does something horrible, but I just built an AMD X2 with 1GB RAM and loaded XP Home on it, plus Open Office, Adobe Reader and a few other things, and it still only takes about 30-35 seconds to boot. Perhaps you were using a type the name type login? The "fair" thing to do is to set the XP machine to auto-login, since that is the functionality the Mac is using.


cosinezero 9 years ago

Interesting, but moot. Your 4MB mac would crawl to a halt with any non-trivial office document. Sure, find/replace may nearly equal itself in time; but on a modern computer you could be doing that with the same speed while -many- other applications were running. How about other common business functions - reporting? An average sized mail merge into an average sized document would have smoked that mac.

Sure, common tasks may not have improved - on their own. But to say productivity has not increased... I strongly disagree. Multitasking has greatly improved. Boot times are moot; many office users do not even shut their computers down. Dare I even mention networking? Drop a 100MB 10baseT in there, and watch the CPU cycles bleed away, while the modern PC scoffs.

Bad test, one that serves no purpose other than to rouse the luddites.


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, MysterGag. The intent was not to revive the old tired chestnut of Mac vs. win. Let's face it, when you have octocore Mac Pros coming on the market, the Apple camp certainly doesn't have much to fear from the Win crowd. The essence of the article was to show how in more than two decades the PC user experience has not really ameliorated at all. Instead of the Mac Plus we could have used an old 80286 running Windows 1.02, but that would have been too much torture! :)

Hi, Darren Maxwell. As much as I agree that in a couple of reboots a day your monitor will only display that bootup screen for a couple of minutes, the bottom line is: After well over two decades of global personal computing, can't we come up with anything better than having to go through a DOS-type CMOS go through its paces?

Hi, Matt Walsh: Yes, people are happy with their computers but is it not a case of people adjusting to the quirks of their computers rather than the other way around. I mean we're still using a QWERTY keyboard that was designed almost a century and a half ago to keep fast typists from sticking the levers in their mechanical typewriters. How much Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and other stress-related maladies are tied into the fact that we are still asking the human body to perform the same ergonomic tasks of a 19th century typist? Does that make sense in the 21st century?

Hi, Evan. You're absolutely right and most of the functions of today's computers would choke an old Mac Plus dead. However, the various activities you've listed mostly fall into the "personal entertainment/leisure" class. The basis of the article is the type of functions that are performed by the 9-5 office worker who basically does little other than fill cells and write letters.

Hi, Hupp. You make a good point: "Even better - use that sleep/suspend feature that most modern comps have." However, most users who do not regularly reboot run into the famous molasses slog. I know that on my state-of-the-art PC if I launch Adobe CS3, work in that for a few minutes, exit and launch Microsoft FrontPage, work a bit then exit, and then launch AutoCAD, by the time I'm finished working on that CAD file, my computer is slogging along so badly that I can barely shut down AutoCAD. This factor has been present in every single PC I've used in the past decade. You have to reboot to clear all the "junk" out and start fresh. Again, this is 1970s thinking in the 21st century. There has to be a better way than that!

I appreciate everyone's comments. Keep them coming! :)


What a moron 9 years ago

You're essentially comparing a light sedan to a semi truck. First of all, the Mac and the Athlon WILL be on-par with formats and other file operations because their hard drives are proportional to their power. Second of all, what does boot up time have to do with everything? The 86 Mac didn't have to go through a POST, load the DMI pool data and boot into Windows.

Back to my truck example. The sedan may have a higher top speed but what good does speed do when you need to pull an 80-foot trailer behind you?

Sincerely,

Apples & Oranges


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Mike Walker. Yes, you certainly proved by your experience that even old 80286s properly configured could work very quickly!

Hi, Carl Hage. As is specified in the article, both computers were running fresh installs of OS and relevant apps only.

Hi, Cybershark. That is the basic point of the article: The basic ergonomic process we undergo to relate to our computers these days is the same used in 1868 when the QWERTY keyboard was patented. The entire world has changed completely since the Civil War era. With all our advanced technology, can't we come up with a computing paradigm that isn't based on 140 year-old ideas?

Hi, Qqpq: The AMD was set on autologin, however keep in mind that the time specified is not just to Desktop, but "Desktop useable". Almost every Win PC I've used in the past many years will get to the Desktop while the HD is still whirring about and if you try to actually do anything in that time, the response will be very slow or non-existent.

Hi, Cosinezero: We were very clear on the bottom line of the comparison. It was not to trash the capabilities of a far more advanced computer in the AMD box, but to show that for a sizeable number of "basic everyday" functions the computing paradigm has not improved at all in over two decades. Of course the AMD is a magnificent and capable computer. We mention in the article how it's well over 1,000 faster than the old Mac!

Hi, What a moron: Again, read through the article again and the comments posted. Personally I couldn't care less whether the AMD has to go through a POST, DMI or whatever else. I would expect that with the immeasurably faster speed and capabilities of the AMD, that I wouldn't have to twiddle my thumbs while it does whatever.


Ted 9 years ago

I still have my SE in storage. Oh, those were the truly enjoyable computing days. No distracting Internet. Just me and my Mac.


Darukur 9 years ago

In the computing history, is well known that hardware evolutions more rapidly than software.

But in this days is even worse, software is getting more and more fat and to perform the same task is required more and more computing power.

In the way to take computing closer to the people is getting more and more distant to the computer.

An example: azureus and utorrent are two different torrents managers and perform the same tasks.

The first require 60 Mbytes of HD for the JAVA virtual machine plus A LOT of memory versus just 200 Kbytes of HD and little RAM and processor requirements.

You take the conclussions.

Greets


rafasgj 9 years ago

If everything I have to write is scriptable, a machine can do it for me, and I would loose my job.

There are only two things that grown from the Mac Plus to current computers (be it a Mac or a PC): eletric power requirements and the time the processor waits in "idle state".


Michael 9 years ago

I would like to see the same "amd with xp vs amd with linux". I agree with the guy that said you should take into account were transfering huge video files, burning dvds and old macs just can't do that. Techonology advances at societys demand. But windows is fridgin crazy with system resources, unix based os's increase spped sooo much. My celeron D running pcbsd is 10 times faster than my core2duo 2 gig vista pc.


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Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Ted: Couldn't agree more. Yes, the SE was a great little machine. My personal favourite was the SE/30. It seemed that there was nothing that little box couldn't handle. I had it hooked up to a 21" Trinitron and it was amazing.

Hi, Darukur: I began the article with the word Bloat and your example fits right in there to illustrate how fat and unwieldly today's software has become. Is it really necessary to cram so much code into an app? Can't some functions that nobody really uses or even knows about be left out, or turned into an optional extra install?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Rafasgj: Electric consumption and idle states. That pretty well says it all. Right on! :)

Hi, Michael: Yes, for all of Linux's varied efficiency advantages, the bottom line is that in office settings most people still use Windows.


Papillon 9 years ago

That was an entertaining light read, but in the interest of the less scientifically literate, the +/- 0.1 second error margin should be factored into the results and presentation thereof.

It might not be entirely unreasonable to assume the lack of rigour in analysis and presentation extends to the other aspects of the methodology...

Viel Spass!


AK 9 years ago

It strikes me that most of the comparison here is about an old OS versus a new OS. I'm not really sure that an Intel would do any better or worse. To post this article as a comparison to an AMD product hardly seems fair. Comparing it to a modern Microsoft OS product would seem to be more appropriate.


James McPherson 9 years ago

I remember an old episode of the Computer Chronicles pitted an Apple IIe against the "New" original Macintosh.

Simple number calculation programs were run on both, and the Apple II would beat the Mac.


eye 9 years ago

I think that the point here is that every computer must be used with the software that was designed for it.

So the problem is when you install Win XP and Office 2010, to that old 800 mhz- PC.! software upgrade requires hardware upgrade :)


Steve 9 years ago

Considering how bad modern bloatware is  I am surprised there are not more operating systems (or software) like Menuet.  http://www.menuetos.net/


Greg 9 years ago

Ahhh, the Mac Plus. It could be argued that the multi-billion-dollar desktop publishing industry was birthed on the Mac Plus, the first industrial-strength publishing computer.


Fabien 9 years ago

What about trying some old NeXT Color Slab or better a color Cube. There were some pretty decent word processing, spreadsheet and opaque window move.


David Kirk 9 years ago

I remember the frustration of loading Pools of Radiance every few minutes off a floppy disk with my Commodore 64. That was frustrating. As was loading off tapes. However, apart from those delays, I get more frustrated with the long delays and bloat of modern software. I may be doing a lot more with it

I gather the point of the (really interesting) post was that, rather than to claim anything about true relative performance of the systems,

The BMW 3-series looks more like the 5-series from a while back (size, weight, features). Mobile phones went from simple and slick to wonderfully complex and sluggish. Hell, it even takes longer to get on an aeroplane these days!


Anonymous 9 years ago

Certainly, an interesting article, but in the end one that has no relevance. How can you say that you can do the same things on Word from 1987 and Word from 2007? Can you import and embed truecolor images into Word from 1987? How about pull info from a database? Mail merge? Anything many people do on a day to day basis? How about "multitasking"? System 6.0.8 *did not multitask*. You had one app, it controlled the system, case closed. Also, to blame the OS or underlying architecture for bad programming is silly. You say you use CS3, and then Frontpage, and then AutoCAD, everything slows down. Have you noticed that every single Adobe product has slowed down at every revision? That most, if not all, Adobe products leave bits and pieces of themselves in memory after being "closed." Try using some programs that were actually programmed *correctly* and see how things happen. I typically have 5-10 IE6 windows, SQL Enterprise Manager, Macromedia (Adobe, now, sadly) Dreamweaver, Excel, MSN, all running and usable, along with an anti-virus, a movie or music playing in the background, and innumerable other things going on at once, and most everything works beautifully and quickly. Yes, I get a second or two of lag from time to time, but if I close down Dreamweaver, everything speeds up significantly (are we sensing a trend here...?) I think a more accurate comparison in usability would be to compare Windows from 1987 and MacOS from 1987, and then perhaps Windows XP and Tiger. I personally still contend that XP is much easier and more powerful, but thats a personal decision, and opinion, and I'm not making any point-by-point comparisons. Would System 6.0.8 whip Windows from 1987? It sure would, no doubt. But this kind of comparison serves as nothing but a way to inflame one side or another. The reality is this: businesses, employees, and casual computer users do nearly EVERYTHING different now than they did back in 1987. We still use keyboards and mice, but thats about it. Look at what you do on a day to day basis and think about it. As a last point, tell me this...if I write a good novel in Word on a Mac Plus it likely wouldn't fit on the floppy disk...but if I did the same on a PC (that had a floppy...but thats another argument for another time) I'd be able to take that same floppy to another system, open it, and edit my document...and it would all fit! Face it...400/800K floppies just aren't what they used to be anymore ;)


john 9 years ago

While I often agree that the massive amounts of computing power at the average schmoe's disposal is about a gagillion times more than they "need" ... the primary reason most people are now comfortable working with computers when 20 years ago they were fearful and hateful of them: they're look pretty now.

Throw an old Mac in front of the average person today and they'll recoil in aesthetic horror. Try presenting them with the Web via Lynx or even Mosaic with all the useless glamour stripped away -- they'd never touch it.

So, while the machines are 3,000 times as powerful in order to generally perform the same task and that may seem like waste, how many times more users are there twenty years hence that wouldn't use those machines were they not crammed full of "useless" bling? I would guess it's probably a pretty even trade.


Jaques 9 years ago

Let's compare ripping a CD and encoding to mp3 or ogg too!


poweruser 9 years ago

I always try to stay behind on the os game to gain performance. The problem is that most new operating systems always include a feature or two that makes you want to upgrade. Possible exception to this is Vista. I remember running win3.1 when people were switching to win2000 and laughing at me but I was just fine running with the existing applications and as long as I didn't try the latest software I was just fine.

The argument above about digital music/video/photos is irrelevant. The limitation there is disk space and you can still handle them on win2k if you upgrade your disk.


Artgoat 9 years ago

There's really no technological reason that a faster, more capable machine has to be just as slow from the user perspective as a 20 year-old machine. Take boot time, for example. By replacing the archaic BIOS with Linbios you can boot modern PCs to a Linux console in under 3 seconds, so don't tell me that the slow speeds are purely an artifact of dealing with more complex hardware. Point is, back in the old days when hardware was minimal and power was scarce, programmers cared a lot about maximizing user experience. Good programmers thought small, and took great pains to minimize timing cycles. It wasn't just the language they programmed in, it was how they thought about programming. If a routine took forty lines, they'd see if they could shave it to fifteen. I remember counting clock cycles in some frequently used routines. Who does that now? (Incidentally, the articles I read when the Mac came out claimed that the MAC O/S was mainly written in Pascal, and optimized in C and 68kAssembler to get it to fit in 128K of ROM)

Today everybody is very impressed by how many trillions of lines of code Vista takes. That kind of code volume sounds like the "infinite number of monkeys" eventually banging out an OS by random chance, rather than crafting it to be something small, swift and powerful.


timjowers 9 years ago

Excellent article!!!! I just cannot believe the sad state of our industry when a "new" operating system requires 1G just to runs its working set and the call stack to send a few words over the Internet approaches 100 calls in a modern appserver! I guess efficient programming is dead. I remember running Mozilla on NT 3.1 in 12MB.... ran fine. What I'd like to see is Linux target this level of efficiency more. While a common desktop distro like Fedora, Ubuntu, or Mandriva only eats a few hundred MB versus softie's total bloat RAM waste, I'd like to see a much leaner OS footprint overall.


brownr21 9 years ago

Why didn't you do Vista? With over 2 GB of RAM, Vista SMOKES XP at loading simple programs, since it does it all from RAM.


Meerkat 9 years ago

You make an interesting, relevant point. As soon as computers get more powerful, superfluous features are added to suck up that comuting power. I remember Steve Jobs noting that the 'OK' button flased in OS X beta because "We've got a gigaflop in there sitting idle!"

Personally, I'd love to stick with Office 2000/Windows 2000 on the fastest hardware possible, but the problem is in the business environment you are stuck with the lowest common denominator. If your MD has Office 2007, sends you a document for proofing - guess what? You're going to have to use Office 2007 to fix his errors. Go with the flow, embrace the bling, and rest assured new hardware and software advances will continue to nullify each other.


aljohnson 9 years ago

Wanted to mention this is why a simply OLPC or other laptop is fine for kids writing school papers. There is no need to spend over $500 and probably much less is practical.

BTW, the laptops here at a major telco take about 15 minutes from pressing the power button until Microsoft Office Communicator (the first app that starts) can actually login. We take precautions to use suspend mode overnight and try to keep the batteries powered over the weekend.


David VomLehn 9 years ago

What Mr. Licino states is actually exactly on target: it is the user experience, doing the things the user normally does, that matters. The corollary to this is that, beyond the point where a user can perceive a difference in speed, there is no longer any reason for devoting processing power and development effort towards making things go faster. Thus, so long what I type appears within, say, .05 seconds of my typing it, I can't tell the difference. We can then use all this processing power and development effort towards making things easier to use, more flexible, adding capabilities, etc. Now, whether things are actually easier to use or more flexible may be debatable...but we do have capabilities that most of us couldn't even dream of.

The other comment I would add is that there is a reasonable well-studied phenomenon in which people's thought processes will slow down or speed up to match the speed of the user interface. In other words, if you have a slow interface, people will get less work done but won't perceive themselves as working more slowly. It is interesting to note that, in many cases, common tasks are actually taking longer and is certainly possible that there is a real, objective, productivity drop occurring of which we are completely unaware. Interesting, and possibly a bit troubling.


Jerry 9 years ago

"the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity"

The thing is, in the course of your own article, you talk about all the things you DIDN'T test because the 86 Mac couldn't handle it. Part of productivity these days is about surfing the web and running processor heavy applications. And productivity is more than simply the amount of time it takes to do something.

This is a pretty fascinating article from a 'gee-whiz' department, but, I don't think you've really made a good case for relevance in terms of productivity. I think you've made a case here for 'efficient use of available computer resources', but that's a different problem altogether.

JGH


Paolo 9 years ago

Yet I believe that there is always space for a tryly well-written application, without the need of bloatware and resource-wasting.

I for one have an Atari Falcon running MiNT right near my dualXeonPC. Well, it happens that sometimes, for some tasks, it is easier for me to fire up my Atari, do the job, and shut it off while waiting for XP64 to boot.

Of course, I can't do Autocad Architechture, but you can bet that I can swap colours in a TIFF graph, write extremely sophisticated documents (something that Word does not get yet) basic Web browsing, mail and FTP all with a noiseless tiny fan blowing on my Motorola 68060 processor.

So, people just should have the balls to use the right tool for the right job.

</rant>


dark 9 years ago

Even with IDE, I don't see how you'd get such a terrible boot time. I have essentially the same AMD system except with a SATA2 drive. By the time my display is ready, so is my desktop. I have never had a system boot so fast.

I'm also tempted to question the 4MB of RAM (all you can expect to cram in there) vs the 1GB (a quarter of what you can expect), but to be fair it doesn't matter. A Mac Pro will benefit more from the RAM than the AMD will with this kind of usage, but I would be interested to know how it performs with less RAM.


Dakota Smith 9 years ago

Another thing to keep in mind when discussing productivity is the thing that I, as a computing professional, am most ashamed of:

Modern computers have enabled massive government regulations and restrictions of freedom.

For 35 years, my father has had his own one-man psychological practice. He's been up on the latest technology the entire time. He and a CS grad student got together for their doctoral dissertation in the late 1960s: for his doctorate, the CS student wrote statistical software that my father used to juggle the data necessary to obtain his doctorate.

In 1979, my father got his first "IBM-compatible" computer (which in 1979 meant something totally different than it did ten years later). I started turning in reports in Junior High School that were typed with the SP6502 text processor and printed with a dot-matrix computer -- and boy, were my teachers impressed!

I got my own C=64 as soon as the things were cheap enough, and I've become a sysadmin in my own right professionally.

So I can safely say that my father has been on the cutting edge of technology all of his life.

He tells me that the entire process of continually automating more of his work has had absolutely no impact on his productivity or the profitability of his business. Why? Because the exact same technology in the hands of government has enabled government to exert increasingly onerous restrictions and regulatory requirements on his business.

In short, the technology has simply allowed him to keep pace with government edicts.

If we really want to increase general productivity and profitability, we need what I like to call the "One Hand-Written Law Per Page Amendment." This would require all laws to be written by a Congressman or a Senator with a quill pen. It would need to be legible and comprehensible to anyone with a greater than 6th grade public education. Each bill must be no longer than one hand-written page. At no time are bills or laws allowed to be converted to electronic medium. Furthermore, Congressmen and their staff are limited to record-keeping methods and technologies as were available in 1779, i.e. quill pens, hand-made parchment paper, and filing systems comprised of (at best) hand-made wooden boxes.

That ought to keep the bastards from using technology against us. :)


Gabriel Rossetto 9 years ago

It´s an interesting point you´re trying to make here.

But really, talking about "common office tasks" and not having ANY email/connectivity tests is absolutely insane. This is a HUGE productivity booster anyway you look at it.


Ken 9 years ago

Should have compared the Plus to a modern Mac.  Boot to Desktop time would have been similar to a MacBook.


DensityDuck 9 years ago

Cars today drive on the same roads as cars from a hundred years ago. Therefore there have CLEARLY been no advances in car technology since cars were first invented.


Ulf 9 years ago

Of course the Mac Plus should be faster just the price tells it all... ;-)

A Mac Plus was something like $2500 (and that is 1986 USD) when new, and the PC system mentioned could probably be put together for under $1000 today.

So the bang for the buck goes to the new PC... :-P


li Arc 9 years ago

The article incorrectly implies the comparison is between hardware architectures, when it's really all about the software. Even on the same platform, by installing different operating systems, ie. Linux vs. Windows, you can have a completely different "user experience", if this is the aim of the article. The bloatware found in today's computers aren't the result of shoddy hardware and inefficient architectures, but of the software of choice. Modern hardware architectural advances are so vastly different and so much more efficient that, had the AMD architecture be running the ancient Mac OS, it would eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all applicable snacks. To imply there is any form of hardware comparison in this article is just unfair.

Windows is bloatware, that can't be disputed, while ancient OS's (yes, even Windows 3.1 or DOS) are much more efficient in comparison. To compare lean-to-lean, it would make more sense to compare a stripped down Linux-based installation on a modern PC to the ancient OS's, so that it would be a closer comparison, like apples to oranges, as opposed to comparing an apple to a Lamborghini...a comparison that simply does not make sense.


joebob 9 years ago

while a numebr of you continue to miss the point...

hi what a moron says, but who cares if you can tow 85 tons when I only need to tow 50 lbs? This is about use in an office setting for typical day to day functionality to get work done. THe kind of stuff that joe user does everyday, read email, chat on aim, play with office docs, etc. Not too many people store all of their photos on the computers they use at the office.

the thing people are hung up on here is multitasking. the reality is that the extent to which you are usually multitasking is excesively minimal. more often it is dual tasking with lots of open applications minimized doing nothing that you dont want to open and close.

mikewalker: comparing autocad on that machine to a current machine is proposterous. Today's autocad software is immensley more complex and resource intensive because of the 3D graphical display capabitlities that it has which make it tremendously more productive.

which actually gets to my central issue here, the comparison is horribly flawed. You have too many variables, and haven't demonstrated any control at all. You haven't sadly demonstrated anything. You are comparing using a bicycle for city travel to using a plane to fly worldwide essentially.

Case in point, fire up EMACS on the windows XP machine (or on a linux one, that would have been an interesting test especially in your choice of word processor) and run that for your search times. You didn't choose to have the mac run microsoft word, but you make the new machine do it. Ok how about running a spellcheck test? How about auto formatting, indentation and such? or creating a table. Then you let the mac off the hook for all the abilities that it doesn't have. example, oh you wanted to track changes? oh you wanted to do a mail merge? oh you have some complex documents images inpowerpoint or pdfs, well we won't test that.

The time differences between the two for office apps is neglible according to your own error epsilon. But even that aside they are still neglible. Why? becuase they are as fast as they can be already. The largest slowdown is human I/O. Everytest that you compare except for boottime are both so short that they are already trivial or of neglible difference between the two.

I'd like to see the Mac open up a database thats bigger than 1 megabyte, or bigger than 100 megabytes and watch it suffer.

As for boot time, well the mac doesn't have to deal with the devices that the windows machine has to deal with, why not be fair and disable the usb ports, the network card, the modem, the display adapater (use the integrated pos), system monitoring, anti virus, and other processes that have nothing to do with the tasks being tested that the mac isn't having to run.

a more interesting test to highlight how silly this one was, use the amd machien but this time use gentoo instead of windows, without X. heck even with X if you must, but you don't get to include a network adapter since that is one of the largest slowdowns if you are using DHCP. you can use emacs for everytest you want to run just about.

Underneath it all however you have in incredibly valid point, one that both Mac and Windows suffer from. sure they get shinier and shinier but in terms of productivity they arent increasing and haven't much in a while. The biggest resource hug that has been introduced has been multimedia files, images and music, and the internet.

further example of bloatware? joe average using any of the 3 latest adobe photoshop editions. Why is it big and slow? because its loading the picture into memory and then support for a billion functions that joe average never uses or even realizes exist. He could probably get the same results from using the lightwieght windows photo editor for his cropping, red eye, resizing and auto restore. Sure the more advanced people want the advanced features, but many of the "photoshoppers" out there who manage their photos ever do any real digital editing to them? probably very very few.

its part of our current societys nature. compare times taken to get around for an average driver using a honda civic to some american V8 car and to a hummer. what do you know with the speed limit being what it is I get everywhere pretty much just as fast. with modern technology shuoldnt I be able to get places faster or less expensively?

the thing is as we all observe people like luxury, and the bulk of computer use and cost is for the luxury components of it. After all for joe average computer user who isn't a developer and isn't playing FPS or trying to do massive digita audio/video editing what does he/she need a dual core for anyhow? Oh right one to run the windows bloat one to work on actual work lol


Cad user 9 years ago

I understand that this is intended to be a contest of "standard" uses. And really a test of operating systems not platforms. And I hate what Microbloat has done to PC's. That said what I use my PC won't even load on the old Mac. I run 3D cad at work all day. The advances in equipment have made possible on a Pc that which only could be done on a mainframe system in 1990. All equipment manufacturers have made trememdous strides in capability. My biggest gripe about OS's and software is the lack of forward-backward capability. Office was mentioned before, but the CAD manufacturers have a lock on non-backward capability, they do it intentionally using code based locks! I'm supprised that they haven't had their pants sued off about this. The entire software industry (at the top anyway) seems to be controled by decievers and charlatains. I can't wait until I can run my application on Linux.


Eugene 9 years ago

"You have to reboot to clear all the "junk" out and start fresh. Again, this is 1970s thinking in the 21st century. There has to be a better way than that!"

^ That's cause you're using Windows. Try Ubuntu 7.04 (no ATI video cards please), and you'll realize what snappiness is.


Hrmm 9 years ago

Could you please open 1 Excel workbook, 1 Browser (your choice), 1 Email Client (your choice), 1 Word Doc and give yourself a network conection to shared drives?

This would be a closer comparison to an actual work enviroment.

Ohh and sense we are comparing the speed of the machines and not the OS's (or did you just title this wrong?) how about we through Gentoo on that AMD?

Lame


Dan 9 years ago

Modern day cpus have so many more instructions, and with the right optimizations, any software could run faster on today's CPUs (ALU ops are faster, and there are more cycles, not to mention all the media instructions (SSE 1,2,3 + 3dnow)). Really, this shows that the XP OS is frugal with giving resources to the benchmarks. At least you are doing something semi-productive :)


ken 9 years ago

The only thing you didn't compare is the price in inflation-adjusted terms. The modern system costs about the same as the Mac... and has more capabilities (even if used occasionally). Given that the costs are the same which system would you choose?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

I'd like to once again thank everyone for the comments. They're coming in so fast that I can't possibly reply to them all. Please keep in mind that the essence of the comparison is to take a common graphical-GUI computer from two decades ago, compare it against a common computer today, and see if there has been a quantum leap in the most "basic common" office uses, which are using a word processor and spreadsheet for the most "basic common" uses. Most office computers today use Win XP. That's why that OS was chosen. Vista, Linux, et al. do not have the installed base in "basic common" offices that Win XP does. The Mac Plus was chosen since we couldn't bear to dig Win 1.02 from its well-deserved grave. It is irrelevant to discuss the Mac Plus' web surfing ability, or colour image manipulation, or torrent handling, as none of those factors were in general office use in 1986. This is not and has never been an "Old Mac is better than a New AMD" comparison. If we had compared a 80286 against a Mac Pro, the results would not have been that much different. It is an attempt to flag the creeping bloat which has entered our software, makes enormous and ever-escalating demands on our hardware, and effectively does not provide "equivalent" improvements in the "User Experience," which from a "basic common" office use standard is essentially stuck in the 1980s or even before.


Jon T 9 years ago

I think a lot of people are missing the point, and arguing particular issues that are obvious. I don't remember the reference, but I'm told that with modern software, something like 90% or all the users take advantage of only about 10% of the features. Perhaps you recall the phrase "creeping featurism" that happens with all software over time - more and more software features get added into software, causing bloat. These days, it appears to be a way of life, and people have just grown to accept it. I, for one, don't, but I put up with what's necessary. It's also how a lot of companies make money - they will "improve" software, and stop supporting old software, forcing you to upgrade.

But, that's not the point of this article. I recall reading a book on system performance tuning, and the one underlying principle of the book was that "A computer is slow when the users say it is." If the end user thinks a system is slow, it doesn't matter why (hardware, software bloat, whatever), they will declare it slow, and that's what matters.

IMO, software development needs to become more modular, so that performance can improve. You only load the features you need, at the time, so that a user's perception of performance is positive, instead of just taking it because they have to.


Paul 9 years ago

In economics this is called the "Law of Deminishing Returns"!

This could be related to Moores law and called the law of "the harder I work the behinder I get".


Math Guy 9 years ago

Dood, learn some basic math. 15,000 x 1MB is not 1.5GB, it's 15GB. So Vista *merely* requires 1,500x more storage than a Mac Plus.


celebrity prank calls 9 years ago

Great article! I agree 100%; things are getting worse, not better.


Brian Norton 9 years ago

thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity

This last statement is where the article goes from amusing and fun to asanine and misguided. Would a computer that launched excel and word in a millisecond be a more productive system?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Jon T. Well put. It all goes back to how much the human has to adapt to the machine instead of the other way around.

Hi, Math Guy. The article states: "System 6.0.8 requires 1MB, Windows XP requires 1.5GB and Windows Vista 15GB. Yes, Vista needs 15,000 times the hard disk space as System 6.0.8." So when you write "Dood, learn some basic math. 15,000 x 1MB is not 1.5GB, it's 15GB. So Vista *merely* requires 1,500x more storage than a Mac Plus" who's the one with the weird math? :)

Hi, Brian Norton. No, a computer that was 21 years more advanced than a Mac Plus shouldn't be using the same "sit upright at a desk hitting buttons with your fingers and moving a mouse" paradigm at all. The fault is not in the software/hardware, but in the hardheaded insistence to stick with an ergonomic structure for data interface that dates back to the Civil War.


OldSchool 9 years ago

I continue to use a circa 1986 MSDOS application on my tre modern dual core workstation and would note that it does perform at roughly 1000X the speed that it did on the old deskpro 286 it ran on originally. I continue to use this app for to avoid exactly the problem shown, prefering to have the 3 orders of magnitude improvement in performance over additional functionality that is unused and a bit of eye candy.


crash 9 years ago

my G5 running 10.4 takes 25 seconds to boot to full usable state, if i disable sharing and all my addons (like shape shifter and apache) i bet i could get it down to 10 seconds


Joey Toms 9 years ago

I agree with all of those that disagree with this study.

The author points out that one user stating that he wants to have voice chat, watch streaming videos, etc, etc, is irrelevant because he only meant in a "working environment."

READ THIS POINT...

BUT...If word processing and spreadsheets were the only useful features on computers these days, then new computers WOULD STILL BE LIKE THE MAC PLUS. The reason for all of what the author calls "bloatware" is to back up all of the functions that ARENT word processing; streaming video, audio, multitasking, surfing 6 websites at once, e-mail, etc, etc.

What more do you want? So the Mac can boot up and load up some crappy word processing software faster than Windows can...Who cares? We're talking SECONDS out of a 24 hour day. I don't get it. Most users can boot up and within 1 minute and 30 seconds (usually less) be typing away in their word processing software.

THE QUESTION IS

How much faster and more productive can you possibly want?

Do you want to sit down at a blank screen, start typing and it is all recorded in to a magically-0-second-boot word processor?

There are LOGICAL and PHYSICAL LIMITS here!

Basically your argument reads:

"We are so bloated it now takes a whopping 70 seconds to get started processing word documents!"

WHO CARES? All of this gigantic "bloat" is NOT for word processingand spreadsheet software, its to handle everything that MODERN DAY PCs DO.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Joey Toms. In all the boring clerical-type offices where I've been lately, any employee caught at his computer while "streaming video, audio, multitasking, surfing 6 websites at once," would be fired! :)


Brian B 9 years ago

What you failed to mention is that if you do not know how to configure your computer properly...of course it is going to boot/run slow.

I have a AMD x2 4200 and vista. It takes 25 seconds to boot to the desktop from hitting the power button. That is not from hibernate or system stand buy either.

The other thing that is missing is the connectivity. I am constantly using USB keys for data transfer as well as buring CD/DVD media. Also, I am constantly pulling information from the internet. AFAIK that old mac didn't have any networking (maybe a modem??)

Granted most PC's now days are very overpowered compared to what we are accually using them for. However, I think the comparison you have used only shows what you want it to show. A smart typewriter would fair as well.


Adam M. 9 years ago

Interesting, but I also have to strongly disagree with your conclusion that there have been no productivity improvements, for two reasons:

1) as others have said, we can now do things with these machines that were not even possible before

2) you've focused on tasks where the modern computer would be idle much of the time. Obviously, if the machine is idle 99% of the time, how fast it is will make practically no difference. It's like trying to test how quickly someone can run without actually moving. Where the newer hardware & software really pay off, is in tasks that would involve the user waiting for the machine, such as image processing, video encoding, etc.

I think your best point is that user interface has not progressed in nearly the same way as the hardware & OS. Personally I think current UI is quite usable in general, but I do have gripes with it. For example, even in Vista I often find that I have to manually resize windows (& GUI elements within windows), so I can see the information... I have a huge screen - can't the software just resize the window (and GUI elements within it) automatically, so I can see the information, instead of subjecting me to this tedium? It wouldn't even take a lot of CPU cycles to do that, but I see practically no applications that will do that for me.

As for "bloat", there's waaay more memory and processing power available today, to pine for the "good old days" when memories and programs were smaller seems misguided to me. IOW - in modern systems we have huge memories (2 GB is getting to be a standard), then why would you care how large the software is, so long as it works reliably and performs well?

What matters is the cost of the machine, and the overall user experience. On the cost side things are clearly improving- the cost of a usable computer now is far less than what it used to be. The user experience has also improved, especially for "power users" who are really putting their machines to work in a serious way.

Thanks for the article,

-Adam


John M 9 years ago

63 seconds before the XP system desktop was usable? Huh? Mine is usable in half that time, including the post screen and login, etc.


Jack Jansen 9 years ago

Fun read!But looking at it seriously: what you've shown is that there has been little or no progress if you're still doing only 1984 things with your computer. In other words: the Mac Plus was perfect for what you'd want to do with a computer then. The Mac would not fare so well if you also tried web browsing (which it can be made to do with an incredible amount of effort). And watching youtube or listening to MP3s is way out.And that's where all the cycles are going: allowing you to do new things with modern computers.Compare it to cars: top speed kept increasing until the sixties, and was a leading sales driver. By then every car went fast enough, and completely different factors took over. You definitely don't want to drive a 60s car today (well, with the exception of a Volvo Amazon and a couple of US cars, maybe).


timtimes 9 years ago

Let's compare ripping a CD and encoding to mp3 or ogg too!

-----------------

Except you couldn't listen to the MP3 on the old Mac computer and I'm not sure it even supported CD-ROM. I don' think my old IBM 486DX2-50 would decode fast enough for 128bps Stereo MP3 playback. It's one reason I upgraded to a 750MHz Athlon. The Athlon 750 would barely run video. I upgraded recently to a Macmini.

Interesting article....but only if you define a PC as a fancy word processor/spreadsheet machine. As noted by the MP3 comment (and my take on it), what we expect from our home computers now is vastly different. My Macmini is basically an infotainment hub, serving video/audio and web content. We all hate the 'bloat', but nobody is so upset with the extra few wasted milliseconds/seconds to give up all the other stuff we use our PC's for. The tests performed really just prove that either machine is preferable to an IBM selectric typewriter and an HP Business calculator.

Enjoy.


Mickintosh 9 years ago

I really like that type of information, it create lots of interesting comments, I have to admit when I use to create apps in assembler (z80,6502,6509,8086,80286 etc...), it took ages to create specially the commenting part :-) , but it was fast. This is odd I actually stop lowlevel programming when I bought a Mac.

And just for the fun of it, I timed booting windows XP on my Macbook(cold start) Core duo 2, this mean I have to press option to select the windows (bootcamp)partition, then wait till windows actually give me control, 73 seconds, 10 sec later the network stuff become available. I did the same thing with parallels desktop for mac booting my Windows XP VM, I took less then 30 seconds, oddity in life. While booting the latest and greatest portable Acer Aspire, still with XP it took over 2 minutes

Thank you Mr Licino


Krenn 9 years ago

One thing to note - in a lot of these tests, if you increase the size of the documents by a factor of 10 or even 100, the PC won't be very much slower, while the Mac will slow to a crawl. For example, a search/replace in a 500K document is essentially not possible on a Mac Plus, but would finish in seconds on the PC.

And the 640-cell Excel spreadsheet seems on the small side; I regularly use 10,000-cell spreadsheets with ease. As an example - I have a spreadsheet that's about 1400 rows (a list of books, authors, ISBN, etc.). I can load this sheet in under three seconds, and perform a simple calculation (separate first and last names into two cells) on all 1500 rows in well under a second.

So yeah, maybe in average tasks they're even... but medium to large tasks can now be done in realtime on the PC instead of leaving the Mac to sit and process. And that's definitely an increase in productivity.


ZenMaster 9 years ago

The title of this article is horribly misleading. Call is Mac Plus vs. Vista, or Windoze, but don't sully the name of AMD over the fact that Windoze is a pig. The times would have been just as bad if not worse for any other CPU that bloaty software was running on top of.

It is similar to have a land speed race between a cheeta, and a toaster. They are not things that can be reasonably compared in the environment you are putting them.


Joseph Burke 9 years ago

This is why OS X rocks over XP and Vista on similarly outfitted machines. It isn't weighed down with a lot of code you will never use, it doesn't install a bunch of crapware to your hard drive, and it doesn't contain a lot of legacy support for hardware that hardly anyone uses anymore. You can get a lot more done with less powerful hardware on a Mac than on a PC simply because the OS is so much lighter it doesn't need more power.


Lotu 9 years ago

I think that alot of people talking about how the times are totally reasonable or pointing out that the Mac Pluss can't do a lot of things like play mp3s or browse the interent are missing on very big point.  The AMD X2 is undeiablly faster bigger and better than the Mac Pluss by 1000 fold.  (Actually with all of the tricks like pipelining, graphics cards, other neat hardware optimizations and some of the optimizations stack, it may be more like a million times faster.)  So todays today computers are undeniablly 1000 times faster than the computers like the Mac Pluss.  Yet when perfoming the same task the benchmarks come up very close to one another, this means that over the past 20 years the software has gotten 1000 times slower to compensate for the faster hardware.


Gilmoure 9 years ago

Once or twice a year, I fire up my Quadra 650 (1993) to scan from an old LaCie tabloid scanner (picked up cheap 5 years ago) into Photoshop 2.5. What a joy to use. The scanning itself takes time but the response of the GUI is great. Now, if only Hell Cats over the Pacific would use more than 16 colors...


M Burke 9 years ago

Interesting, but completely useless. As a 512e and later a IIvx owner, I used Macs for over a decade. I now am a PC user, and while I like the Mac asthetic, I use a lot of the aps/games made exclusively for PC. (Macs still rule the shareware/freeware world though.)

That all said, the fact that applications have to display millions of colors and enable technologies such as USB etc. seems overlooked by the 'comparison'. Modern Excel has capabilities that Mac Plus era Excel simply could not do.

Ask anyone who spent entire weeks working on publishing projects, or vector artwork on an 80s era Mac whether they'd like to go back to using a plus and they'll not even bother to answer.

Is there bloat? Yes, but because consumers demand more.

My cell phone is faster and (apart from the keyboard entry) can do more than a Mac Plus (has more RAM too.)

Finally, there's no browsing the Internet on a Mac Plus, no Flash graphics, no World of Warcraft (now we know the real reason its faster), no Itunes, and most of important all, no color.


Deven 9 years ago

There isn't that much difference in the way we use computers now vs. 10 years ago, unlike the previous 10 years. Demonstrating the last 10 years of bloat under Microsoft's dominance would be a much more interesting comparison.

Take that same AMD dual-core system, bump it to 2GB of RAM (or even 4GB), then compare different software from 1997 and 2007 on the SAME hardware:

* 2007: Windows Vista (not XP!), Office 2007, IE 7, Firefox 2.0, etc.

* 2007: Fedora 7 Linux, OpenOffice.org, Firefox 2.0, etc.

* 1997: Windows NT 4.0, Office 97, IE 4.0, Netscape 4.0, etc.

* 1997: Windows 95 (OSR2.5), Office 97, IE 4.0, Netscape 4.0, etc.

* 1997: OS/2 Warp 4, Office 97, IE 4.0, Netscape 4.0, etc.

After all, the user experience and the way we use computers hasn't changed that much in the last 10 years, but the experience in 1997 was hugely different from 1986...


Deven 9 years ago

Actually, including Windows XP on the 2007 side would also be interesting to show Vista bloat, but leaving Vista out entirely certainly misses a big point of comparison!


Caspian 9 years ago

That's ridiculous. How much faster do you think you could paste, find/replace, save, scroll, et cetera, when you start off with nearly instantaneous times to begin with? You're saying that we should have come up with something to make us significantly more efficient. But when computing begins exceptionally efficiently (well, home computing, at least), then there's not much that we can do to improve it. Just because our PCs are thousands of times faster than before doesn't mean that we can possibly perform certain tasks any faster.


msbob 9 years ago

This was a great article - lots of fun to read. It's so amazing how slow today's blazing fast computers are. I recall in 1996 saying, "all I ever need is a 1Ghz machine with 512MB of ram". Now with a dual core 2Ghz intel chip and 3GB of ram, my machine is not nearly as responsive as it should be. Mac OS 9 and win95 were much snappier than OS X and XP/Vista.Web surfing and email might be the MOST COMMON tasks for computers today. At least emailing in addition to word processing. The test should move to more recent machines such as a brand spanking new compaq presario running Windows NT on a Pentium I and a just released Quadra 650 with Mac OS 8 versus the top of the line multi-core PCs.That would allow a closer comparison of actual daily tasks, including word, excel, powerpoint, email, and web surfing.Thanks for the article,-msbob


Ethan 9 years ago

I can still type faster than an old mac can register... till the PC got past 66Mhz 486, I would always be waiting for the computer to catch up to my typing.

As for the MAC plus... I used one of those in grade school.... it was ALWAYS breaking down, locking up, etc.

And.. if you had configured the PC correctly... you can fully boot up in 30 seconds or less. A "clean" windows install does not equal a "optimized" windows install.

Hehe.. try running Folding @ Home on a MAC Plus... ROFL!!!!

Maybe for computer illiterate people they will see no difference in a MAC Plus and a new PC in productivity.. but if you actually know how to use a computer.. there is a world of difference!


Ian 9 years ago

It seems to me that the user experience has vastly improved in one area: multi-tasking. Right now my work laptop is running Outlook, a tabbed browser with 4 different pages open, a ticket tracker, 2 ssh windows, and 2 different IDEs. All that stuff is directly used in the work I do every day, and as it goes that's a fairly light load for me.

My modern system lets me juggle all these apps with ease. But if my memories of the early Macs hold up, that wouldn't be the case with one of those systems, which were generally only capable of running a small number of programs at a time. That means that if I wanted to start working on one task, I would probably have to close something else down first, even though I would likely just be loading it back up 15 minutes later. Not a very fluid user experience in my book.


David 9 years ago

I enjoyed the concept of this article. I have known this, from a "touchy feely" point of view; for many years. I have another approach that has worked well in my household.

I have a linux network in my house but my 12 year old wanted a machine that would play some windows based games. I took a 2.3 Ghz machine that was a couple of years old; installed a clean version of Windows ME (dont laugh yet) using the 98micro option of 98Lite; added an open source memory manager that fixed the dreaded memory leak problems of all DOS based windows systems; added an older, completely functional, firewall that does not require internet explorer (since it is not there anyway); found hardware drivers for using the newer hardware on Windows ME; performed the normal 9x speed tweaks; and added Axis print monitor for using my networked printers (inkjet & dot matrix).

I chose ME because it is essentially 98se with the same networking stack as Windows2000 and has full USB support. 98Lite took out all the useless crap that came with ME and replaced windows explorer shell with the shell from windows95. This is one very lean operating system setup.

This is easily the fastest machine that I have ever owned. It is fully functional for most people who do not need all the garbage that Microsoft tries to throw on us as "improvements." It has very few vulnerabilities because the vulnerable code is not there. It boots in about 5 seconds and shuts down instantly. Wintop rarely reports that this machine ever uses more than 10 percent of the processor at any given time and it never hits the virtual memory.

The latest Firefox, Open Office, Media Player Classic (for watching DVDs,) Kermit95 within the filesystem limitations, Irfanview, and Diablo2 all function flawlessly and extremely quick.

This system will never pry me away from the Linux habit that I have had since 1995, but nonetheless it is extremely capable and impressive.


Tokamak 9 years ago

I think some people are missing a point: Software with the same capabilities can be written much more efficiently. The comparison between azureus and utorrent mentioned above is exactly what the article is getting at. What is it about azureus that makes it so big? Another example are some machines I bought for our group a year or so back. They were 1.2ghz celerons with 512 megs of RAM. On WinXP they dragged, but I threw on Win2K and they flew. What can you do with XP that you can't do with 2K? Nothing we needed to do. So I took a $350 PC and made it do on Win2K what a $1000 machine would be needed to do on WinXP.

But imagine if the software didn't push the hardware and new features were added that did not require more resources. People wouldn't need to upgrade every couple years and the "computer economy" would slow significantly.


BeanCounter 9 years ago

It would also be interesting to compare price paid for each, in inflation adjusted dollars of course. :)


Ben 9 years ago

Not sure if this was mentioned or not... but while this was a "basic tasks" comparison, it falls far short of what basic tasks are today. Yeah, Excel, Word... but you're leaving out messaging, email and network file sharing. Even the most basic computer users at my company (with 10,000 employees) uses groupwise, messaging and network file sharing at fibre speed. While I think you were right in your comparison, it is too narrow to be taken seriously. Computers are produced they way they are produced because the consumer wants the cheapest available with the flashiest things. What youre asking for doesn't really exist. You want the best of both worlds with speed, optimized code, optimized hardware, usability... all great things, yes. But if all of those things came in one package.... I SHUDDER to think of the price tag. I'm happy with my Core 2 Duo lappy for under $700. At $7k? ACK!


Skip Steuart 9 years ago

The Plus holds up very well with Word.  I wonder how it does on Photoshop or 3D imaging.  Maybe I shouid dust off my Mac Plus and cancel my order on an 8-core system.  My dual G5 takes 12 hours to process some of my jobs.


Nowhere Man 9 years ago

Kickin' article. Agreed, there is no real 'heavy-lifting' comparison between the Plus and the Wintel; the Wintel is simply faster and more capable than the Mac. However, there is a whole sector of the population that doesn't give squat about whether you can render at 75fps or not (e.g, the better part of my family) - they want their computers to type, surf the internet (agreed, the Mac would have problems with this) and not break at the same time. Not Windows' specialty.One other thing in the Mac's defense. I still have a Mac SE lying around my house, which still works; my little sister plays Reader Rabbit and Kidpix on it all the time. This computer spent 8 years in storage in Connecticut, with no humidity or temperature - this means 100 degree heat/98% humidity in the summer, whole weeks below zero in the winter. It still works, boots as fast as it did fifteen years ago. Not to mention the fact that it was abused on and off by my brother and I when we were little. Best computer I've ever owned, hands down.


Henry 9 years ago

In many ways, this test actually favors the AMD in terms of user experience because of the most notorious source of modern day bloat: Preinstalled software. If you were to compare the Mac Plus as it came new from Apple and a new desktop machine from Dell (or HP to most any other retailer), I would bet money on the Mac Plus winning even more of those 17 tests. I find this relevent because the common user experience isn't from when they finish installing their OS; instead, it's from when they open up the box.


Jeremy 9 years ago

To take the selective statistics further... I can "boot" my pen and paper in less than 1 second... maybe this proves that productivity has gone backwards?


John 9 years ago

I run my own mix of fluxbox and ubuntu on a g4 iBook. In OS X time to load neo office is 32-120 seconds, word is 28-45 seconds, I boot into Linux and I can load Open office in between 4-15 seconds.

Software bloat is the single biggest problem out there.

And for more reasons than one... specifically... as we automate our machines more and more, we lose contact with what is going on. The CLI puts you in charge... i.e. in america you control the interface in soviet russia the interface controls you...yaddayaddayadda...

anyway... no one will ever listen to this... it is a point of religion...

but damn... I am glad I still activate programs from the command line...

ah well...

it is the american way to grow in resource use ... not to grow in efficiency.


John 9 years ago

btw:

from the comments I think almost all the posters... just didn't get it.

So... what you should do is demonstrate the productivity of a secretary who uses worperfect with the cardboard navigation key guide... on an old 8086... versus a modern secretary using a mouse driven version of the newest word.

Maybe then it will sink in that this is...

A. humorous

B. half funny and half sadly true.


Dilton 9 years ago

On my XP machine, when I went to your URL:

1) McAfee scanned your page for me automatically for like a gazillion known viruses and such.

2) Steam is checking which of my buddies on the Internet are coming online in case I want to join them in a game.

3) Answers.com utility is waiting for my key-click combo to tell me what an unknown word on your page means.

4) My UPS utility is communicating with my UPS to keep my system ready should the power go out.

5) Bluetooth is scanning the airwaves ready to automatically connect my wireless devices.

6) The task manager is monitoring my system performance for me so I can check at any time.

7) The print utility is waiting for the next job from my computer or one of the other ones on the home network.

8) VMWare is running Ubunutu Linux in the background so I can listen to music as I wish because I like the Linux music players better.

9) VMWare is running Windows 2000 in the background with a VPN connection to work (traffic separation scheme) so I can jump on an issue immediately with the software I write for customers.

10) Smartison is waiting for me to capture a screenshot which I tend to do often enough to warrant keeping it running.

11) Google Updater is making sure software packages are up to date.


Ethan 9 years ago

I do agree with the posters that mentioned XP and newer software is bloated.... a lot of the reason is, is that there aren't very many real "programmers" anymore.

Everything has moved away from "let's program this right" to "let's program this so it works good enough... if it uses way too many resources who cares... we'll just tell the users that their system is outdated and needs to be upgraded/replaced"

Can everybody say "thank you" to interpreted languages like Java and .Net, etc?


serdar c. 9 years ago

with the latest technological advancements on computer products, storage areas and such, as a programmer, even i dont care much if my program can run faster or smoother, cus usally my dual core opteron or my clients core2duo processor (or even pentium4) can handle the jobs i've given without any slow down or such. i belive that most of the games in the market that requieres high end pc's can run on a normal system with better programming (which requires MUCH more time and MUCH more investment of course, i dont blame them for not doin that).


Dan H 9 years ago

This comparison leaves me wondering what the difference would be between a truly modern OS - say one of the *BSD's or Linux (or even Solaris) - and the classic Mac? I'm certain the Mac would still win - after all, no 'PC' OS can compete with MacOS (if just for reasons of hardware support) - but I've run Linux on 500Mhz P2 boxes with 256M of ram that were barely able to handle Win95. (and have had uptimes of months (years, if I'd had a UPS on them) compared to the average of 7 hours with Win95)

But the fact is that the PC will always be slower in some features than a Mac. Probably the biggest reason is the hardware - MacOS only has to support a limited amount of (core) hardware. What I mean is: when you look at a Mac there are only a very small number of processors and mainboard chipsets that need to be supported, so the number of workarounds needed to make the hardware boot is tiny. The other thing is that Apple (used to?) require that all hardware meet exacting specs - this way it could be *guaranteed* to support whatever model of hardware discovery that MacOS uses. In a PC you have to be very careful about how you find the hardware - in some older (ISA (almost non-existant, now)) systems just sending a signal to an extension slot to see if something was plugged into it could cause the whole system to freeze. In addition, the sheer number and variety of processors and mainboard chipsets that might be found in a PC is staggering, and each has its own quirks - meaning that you have to have different code to handle two chips and chipsets that would otherwise be identical. The Macintosh has *none* of that diversity - even to this day.


Andy 9 years ago

I think a more useful comparsion would have been to compare a modern mac with an older mac running more or less the same software. Even though the OS would now be different at least it would of been more or less comparing apples to apples ... hehe.. I guess my ibook must be getting pretty old running the latest version of os x cause it sure seems like it takes 5 to 10 minutes just to reboot the darn thing after doing updates. My AMD dual core or even one of my P4's or PIII's running xp pro reboots a hell of a lot faster.


earnie 9 years ago

I hated so much my SE 30, it was too fast for playing ShufflePuck Café!!!!


zwouth 9 years ago

I find it pretty amusing that most people miss the point. The average office user even today doesn't really do anything that requires massive computer performance.

The funny bit is when bringing up multimedia is that if you were serious about music and such back in the day, you'd likely be using a Mac, Atari ST, or something other than a PC, since the XT's and AT's weren't quite there yet with sound.

On a side-thought, i think the PC gained it's dominance over the Mac for some pretty strange reasons. For businesses who always penny-pinch a PC was just cheaper up front, and then for some reason games never really took off on Mac. Perhaps Windows saving grace was that an entire generation grew up playing games on their parents "productivity PC's".


William 9 years ago

Zero advance in productivity?? What a joke. How about do a real life productivity experiment? Give these computers to some secretaries. Ask them to do their work and find out which is faster and better.


-hh 9 years ago

First off, my thanks to Hal Licino for an excellent *pragmatic* view of how much our technology, for all its changes, really hasn’t necessarily changed all that much.

Since Hal has admitted to being overloaded, I'll volunteer a few of my own comments on highlights from the responses (yes, I read them all):

From - cosinezero

"Interesting, but moot. Your 4MB mac would crawl to a halt with any non-trivial office document."

Very true, but the productivity question here is: *how often do we generate trivial versus non-trivial Office documents?*

Applying the Pareto Principle, 80% of our Word documents are going to be trivial, probably 1 to 4 pages. They're not going to have tons of fancy shit embedded in them and so forth.

Similarly, tasks like a "mail merge", I do have to admit that in 25+ years of business operations (20+ years with desktop computing), I've never had the need to do one, nor has anyone else in my office. As such, while it may very well be a fairly common task in some offices, it isn't necessarily a clearly universal task that everyone must do every week. As such, the Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule) again applies.

From - What a moron says

"You're essentially comparing a light sedan to a semi truck."

Exactly correct, and 80% of the time, one can successfully commute to work in merely a sedan instead of needing to use a big truck (insert derrogatory political comment about the wastefulness of SUV's here).

From - Anonymous

"Certainly, an interesting article, but in the end one that has no relevance. How can you say that you can do the same things on Word from 1987 and Word from 2007? Can you import and embed truecolor images into Word from 1987? How about pull info from a database? Mail merge? Anything many people do on a day to day basis?"

The answer is the same as what I said above to cosinezero:

Very true, but the productivity question here is: *how often do we generate trivial versus non-trivial Office documents?* The key issue is that when proverbially 80% of your doc's are trivial, then the more capable 'high end' system isn't going to provide you any productivity gain.

From - Gabriel Rossetto

"But really, talking about "common office tasks" and not having ANY email/connectivity tests is absolutely insane. This is a HUGE productivity booster anyway you look at it."

Fortunately for you, I can recall doing email on a Mac Plus. It wasn't really all that different from today. The software was VersaTerm Pro (a VT100 emulator), which hooked up via a 9600 baud connection to a Unix mail host. Those were the days of much better *email* productivity than today, because all of the email you got was actually important. And because it was "hard" to transmit binaries (uuencode/uudecode), you didn't have your time (or quota) wasted because some "helpful" person CC'ed you on all six revisions of the Powerpoint that they were working on. As such, there was a lot less *productivity time* wasted on stupid stuff.

From - Krenn

"One thing to note - in a lot of these tests, if you increase the size of the documents by a factor of 10 or even 100, the PC won't be very much slower, while the Mac will slow to a crawl."

Correct. Unforunately, people write a lot more 1-2 page documents than they write 10-20 page documents or even 100-200 page documents, and we need to take into account the mix of products to see how our time is being used. The Pareto Principle says that 80% of the time, the latter's better productivity on the "big project" does not have a significant impact on the productivity in day-to-day operations.

Krenn, continuing:

"And the 640-cell Excel spreadsheet seems on the small side; I regularly use 10,000-cell spreadsheets with ease. As an example - I have a spreadsheet that's about 1400 rows (a list of books, authors, ISBN, etc.)."

That is actually a database and a perfect example of how technology has allowed people to use the wrong tool for the job.

Maybe you could volunteer to set an "Access vs HyperCard" comparison? ;-)

From - zwouth

"I find it pretty amusing that most people miss the point. The average office user even today doesn't really do anything that requires massive computer performance."

You sir, are absolutely correct.

For anyone who doubts this wisdom, I invite them to go through their own email's in-box and sort the contents by size: you'll find that 90% of the stuff that's >50kb is this size because it has a binary file attached, and that 90% of all of the emails will have a text portion that is less than 3 printed pages.

My thanks again to Hal Licino for an excellent *pragmatic* view of how much our technology, for all its changes, really hasn’t necessarily changed all that much.

-hh


docbill 9 years ago

Thankyou for the entertaining article. I do however, feel the need to point out all the measurements are user response times. For example, scrolling take a fixed amount of time not because of the speed of the computer. If the programmer wanted to they could make the page scroll so fast, your monitor would never have a change to update the frame. Rather instead, there are deliberate delays added, to make the computer more usable. In some cases there is a litteral sleep(1), telling the computer to wait one second, but more often the delay is added in more obscure ways. Even an old Vic20 was fast enough that it needed to have a delay in the code to keep from scrolling too fast.

Type delay is another good example. It turns out the average person can not distinguish the difference between a type delays less than 0.2 seconds. In fact to some people having a delay significantly less than 0.2 seconds will make the letter appear before their mind has registered they have typed the letter, throwing off their typing rhythm. So any good programmer, tries to make the typing lag about 0.2 seconds.

So as you can see, when interacting with us slow humans, computers need to stop and wait. Where things have improved significantly, is when a vic20 stopped to wait before echo a character litterally just stopped and waited. However, modern computers rarely actually stop and wait for anything. While you are waiting the 0.2 seconds for your character to appear on the screen, they can do something semi-usefull like check if you have new e-mail.

Bill


Chris 9 years ago

Certainly an informative article.

I didn't have time to read all the great comments, so someone may have touched upon this already. At any rate, I feel that the title should at least have "Microsoft Windows" somewhere before or after AMD Dual Core. With the title as is, it sounds like finger pointing at AMD as the root cause of the 'lack of productivity'

Really, you can put a much less bloated OS (such as "Damn Small Linux", etc etc) on there, and get some time boot/load time etc. sliced off the AMD PC.


boudu 9 years ago

Your test is unfair - to the McPlus: the savvy user would have been using WriteNow, much faster than juggernaut Word, or else the earlier MacWrite - the earliest MacWrite was RAM-based & presumably faster still. And let's get back to system 3.2, when you could have the system, word processor, and the book you were writing all on one floppy disk - and get on with writing it because you weren't wasting your time posting comments on the net.


Stephen Reiss 9 years ago

It is like comparing a Model-T to a modern Ferrari by having them both drive through city traffic.I still have an Apple IIc that will blow the doors off any of the above, as long as you don't want to actually see any graphics.It is a cute demonstration, but it is a moot point. I suppose what puzzles me is that the results of this test would be in any way unexpected or that someone would draw conclusions from the results. Heck, I will bet you a dollar I can beat any computer on the planet in a race on my terms.I get a piece of charcoal and a cave wall. You get your choice of computer and a printer. We both start from an all off, hands off position.  The first to make a hard copy of their name wins. This doesn't prove that all technological achievements of the last 40,000 years "have brought zero advance in productivity."


sorin 9 years ago

I agree with your conclusions but it sounds like Intel paid article. The right title would be "86 mac plus ws Windows XP"

If you want to test "86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore", you shall put a better OS on AMD.

the 60sec boot time, seems starnge. I have Athlon x2 3600, 1G RAM; Winxp SP2, Office 2003, Antivirus and it takesabout 25sec (20sec windows + 5sec BIOS)

I would like also an article Win3.1 vs current Mac :))


Jim Bailey 9 years ago

This example just supports what I've been saying for over 20 years. The hardware vendors and the software vendors (Microsoft being the biggest offender) are in a sybiotic relationship. Very few users would buy an of the new hardware just to gain a few percentage points performance improvement. Likewise very few would install the latest and greatest OS unless it offered major enhancements. So the OS people offer enhanced OS that require more computing power. The hardware vendors tout how wonderful the newest OS will run with their newest hardware and we, the users pay through the nose for bells and whistles we don't need, don't want, and can't use. It's a viscious cycle that seems to get worse every year. Hooray Vista, Hooray quad core and oct core CPUs, and Hooray for SLI systems with more Video power than you should need to edit a commercial 35mm movie, and a price that looks like it might take those kinds of revenues to pay for. Yet we continue to pay for it?

Why not install a version of Linux onboth systems to get a more equitable comparison and wake a few of us up to how badly we are served by the Intel-Microsoft swindleocracy!

Just my 2 cents from a frustrated DOS user since 1978.


Bruce Haugland 9 years ago

One of the backgrounds I have on my Linux desktop is a screen print of an early smalltalk system from Xerox. It dates to at least 1980. Looking at that screen print and today's computers I don't think the computer industry has advanced one inch in these 27 years


Ben Tover 9 years ago

The problem is in definition of "basic everyday". The tasks listed are not basic every day tasks, they are steps in the normal tasks undertaken. I don't know any user whole only opens one small document. The open a spreadsheet in Excel from inside of an email, while they have other documents open and halfway edited (often while playing some music at the same time either streamed or from the local hard drive). The size of everyday documents exceed these days exceeds the amount RAM in 1986 computers. In order to compare common every dasks, you would first need to find a computer that is capable of handling these tasks, rather than redefining what people actually do in order to slant the results.

Sure, you could say that we have made no progress with the ability to unlock your car with ease, because I've defined the "basic everyday task" of "unlocking your car door" as being insert the key in the lock on the driver's side door and turn. In reality, I don't know anyone who does that even once a year. You choose neglect advances in technology that would make the mac look like it got creamed in order to produce the results you wanted. Users rarely powerdown systems, often if they do it's into some flavor of a hybernation.

What you are really measuring is the computers ability to do what are now considered TRIVIAL TASKS not everyday tasks. Yes, trivial tasks can't get much faster because, well, they are trivial. But managing multiple documents simultaneously is a common everyday task that is not even part of the discussion when you design your test to prove a desired point.


Leo 9 years ago

I think one of the major problems here is MS Office 2007. I have used MS Word version 97 - 2003 and I still prefer using MS Word 2000. MS Word 2000 has almost the same features as 2003, just read the MS Word How To Books, even if the book is for 2003, you can still apply the same commands to 2000. In terms of speeds, the 2000 is very much faster. MS Word 2003 also crashes more often.


Leo 9 years ago

I think AMD PC would have won if MS Office 2000 was used.


Jim 9 years ago

Definitely brings back the fond memories. Back in the day, I used Microsoft Write instead of Word. That was a stripped down version of Word that still had the simple business and writing tool that most people used.


Paul 9 years ago

Hey Darren Maxwell, why do you have to reboot 3 times a day? I haven't rebooted my G4 533 in 4 months.


NerDoWell 9 years ago

"Every writer in the 80s and 90s used a Macintosh." - absolutely not true. Not only have I not touced an Apple since the Apple II, but I used various word processors on PCs since the mid-80's (First Choice anyone) inlcuding many that had no hard drive.


Rob Martinson 9 years ago

If I want to get across the street it's easier for me to walk than it is to get in my car and drive. On the other hand, if I want to get across the country...


Trny Slocum 9 years ago

Jeez. so many people seem to just not "get it" on what your article is about. There certainly are a lot of thin skinned individuals out there that don't like hearing that out little machines 20 years ago ran ordinary tasks just as fast or faster in many instances. I imagine it's the "case modders" crowd that is irritated the most by this. I keep a little Mac 512 (Fat Mac) around, and every once in a while pull it out and play on it. It never fails to amaze me how quickly it starts up, opens and saves files, and launches apps. A good lesson for us all.


Diego111111 9 years ago

I know this is a speed test but it made me consider heat, power and noise of modern hardware Vs Old.... Hmmm this is why im not going to Vista till I ABSOLUTLY HAVE NO CHOICE.... I've only just got XP running fast enough....


Jonathan Cronin 9 years ago

Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster.Nicklaus Wirth, (Inventor of Pascal) 1995.


Beerman 9 years ago

> It is like comparing a Model-T to a modern Ferrari by having

> them both drive through city traffic.

This guy gets it -- but still doesn't get it. Driving in traffic is what 99% of the people do 99% of the time.


Mike Mundt 9 years ago

well you are looking at the wrong products.   First Newton OS, instant on, all data available instantly, grey scale, and pen interface.  My iPaq with Windows Mobile and the same in color....OK the screens are small.  And you need that external keyboard.... But with that keyboard these devices would win many of these tests.  But, I started with a Fat Mac and went up through a fully let out SE 30 (color), then to Powerbooks (present one is 12" PB G4) and a Mac Mini as a server and DVD Movie maker.  My needs grew and I do not just do the basic stuff..  The newton is packed away and the iPaq is getting repaired.... If your interested go to this link and see what I made on that SE 30 in 1993....http://web.mac.com/mikemundt/iWeb/MundtHome/CHCS_S... Today it would be so much better with the new hardware.... My SE 30, the Fat Mac or any of the old machines would not satisfy me today....  Yes the code is bloated....  And yes, the basic stuff doesn't work much better if at all.....  But, I no longer do the basic suff.....


Eric 9 years ago

David,

I like the sound of your set-up. Is there a simple how to for someone to follow along with? My kid doesn't need so much of what's out there but the speed would make the games so much better than the Castle Wolfenstein I played on my Apple II+.


Steve W 9 years ago

The more RAM you have, the longer it takes to test it at Boot up. If you could add 1 GB to the Plus, that would slow the Boot Time way down. But after bootup, more RAM is faster than less RAM. I reboot maybe once or twice a month.

The more extensions you add to System 6, the longer it takes to boot. I had almost a full row of extensions from SAM to screen saver. I knew people with 2 rows and more. Windows XP has even more, it just doesn't display them at bootup. Look in Services or Task manager. Try Booting Linux, it lists them line by line. Some of it is bloat, some is nice to have, and some is must have.

I admit, I don't do much more with Word and Excel now than I did in 1986. Can't say the same about Oracle.

Doesn't matter how fast the browser on your Mac Plus is, the 9600 baud modem would bore any modern user to death (you know, the ones complaining that EDGE is too slow).

The Mac Plus was 640 by 480 by 1 bit. I can set my current display to 640 by 480, too. I can only get as low as 8 bit color though. 8 bit color is enough for everything but graphics. YOU can use 640 by 480 if you want. I didn't buy a 24 inch monitor for that.

It may take longer to search a 200 GB hard drive than a 20 MB hard drive; it takes less time than searching a box of 800k floppies for the stuff that didn't fit in the 20 MB. Took a while to read those floppies, they are slower than thumb drives.

Too bad we can't choose the advancements we want and leave the bloat behind.


Danny 9 years ago

"zero advance in productivity."

Umm, what? If this was true, then I challenge you to take windows xp machines out of an office and fill it with a bunch of 86 Mac Plus computers and tell me that productivity doesn't change. LOL.

Maybe you haven't heard of any of the productive advances in the last 20 years that allow us to do advanced things, like I don't know, maybe work in COLOR???? LOL again.

Oh, and also:

"But we just couldn't bring ourselves to run the earlier and hopelessly buggy versions."

But I thought productivity hadn't changed since the 86 Mac Plus came out??????


PB 9 years ago

What would be interesting too is comparison of the power usage. Some PeeCees nowadays waste more than 250Watts without actually doing something useful.

By the way... about productivity... I would really say that office efficency hasn't increased in 20 years. Yes, we got extra comfort: more colour, high resolution, bigger screens and internet. But with more complex computers and more unfinished software being released (thanks to Microsoft and brainless managers), more people are so busy just keeping those fancy computers from breaking down, than actually being productive.


guy 9 years ago

You seriously should have compared your old mac to a new mac. Your point would be made just as well, I think, without the distraction of comparing to windows on an amd. I personally think you were at least subconciously writing this as a windows/amd/anything-not-apple bashing troll piece, combined with some "remember the good ol' days" nostalgia, even if you say it wasn't. But if it wasn't meant as such, you could have used a new mac for the comparison and eliminated every bit of that, while still making your point about simple tasks being relatively unimproved.


Patrick 9 years ago

Be real. I remember PC users in 1984 complaining that Mac word processors weren't as snappy as DOS-based processors. And DOS 6 boots up in about 5 seconds on a PC XT (as I learned 6 years ago in Argentina). Does anyone want to go back to that "experience"?

Also, who seriously spends most of their time in Word and Excel? Raise your hand if you spend more time in both combined than in 1) email programs that have mailboxes in excess of 1 Gig; 2) Web browsers with prolific use of high-quality images and integrated plug-ins to handle streaming TV-quality video; 3) Programs to manage your MP3, picture, and video collections; and 4) games with near-cinematic quality 3D environments.

If you're a developer, do you really miss the long compile, link, run, crash cycles that are largely absent in today's IDEs?

Even considering just Word and Excel... How well did that Word 1.0x available in 1986 (or even the Word 3.0 that came out the following year) handle documents hundreds of pages long with embedded full-color graphics? Did it do spell checking on the fly (no, though plug-ins first enabled that capability)? How well did your Excel handle sheets with dozens of columns and thousands of rows pulled in from an external source?


Nick 9 years ago

Some time ago, thinking about this kind of thing would rip me to shreads. You see, 4 years ago I wrote a program in all C++ (I'm not old enough to have assembly programming experience) that kept track of inventory for a small company, and did it all using their own forms. I just started the program up, and it ran incredibly fast, using under 1 MB RAM!!!

Not too long ago, I inherited maintenance of a few VB6 projects. VB6 was frowned upon by, well, everyone but people who wanted to make working apps fast. Including most businesses. C++ was the language of choice for hard-core programmers.

What did I do? I upgraded my VB6 apps to .NET.

A simple GUI application that talks to a .DLL and displays 3 strings takes up a whopping 50MB of RAM!!! That's about a 5-fold increase in needed resources from VB6 to VB.NET.

But then again, I'm also guaranteed it will install on any PC in the wild. I'm also guaranteed that I won't have issues with copy-protected OCX components and DLL hell. I'm also guaranteed an easier time globalizing and localizing it. I also get a development environment where I'm a lot more productive.

I try every now and then to write a short C++ utility app...but I know it's all in vein.


Ryan 9 years ago

Well interesting, but lets be real here. This is not about comparison, because there's not. You state how fast the Mac OS installed compared to XP, look at the size difference, OSX Tiger took over 30 minutes to install on my Imac... does that make the classic mac OS better than the Tiger? Look at the structural difference in todays OS's compared to Classic MAC. Besides the Classic Amiga OS was hands down way better than the Mac OS at the time. So do a comparison of Classic Mac against PowerMacs, X86 pC against AMDX2, or Windows 3.1 against Vista and then you would have a better comparison.


Ryan 9 years ago

Well interesting, but lets be real here. This is not about comparison, because there's not. You state how fast the Mac OS installed compared to XP, look at the size difference, OSX Tiger took over 30 minutes to install on my Imac... does that make the classic mac OS better than the Tiger? Look at the structural difference in todays OS's compared to Classic MAC. Besides the Classic Amiga OS was hands down way better than the Mac OS at the time. So do a comparison of Classic Mac against PowerMacs, X86 pC against AMDX2, or Windows 3.1 against Vista and then you would have a better comparison.


mac convert 9 years ago

ok, you got me..... i'm going to buy the Mac Plus to watch youtube instead of that Intel Core2 Duo that I was planning to buy..... clearly, a Mac is better!! ... and i can score with the chicks!!


hector 9 years ago

A friend of mine knows a salesman whose laptop broke down a couple of years ago. Knowing next to nothing about computers, he figured, hey, it's old, I should get a new one. So he went in and got sold (as the saying goes, the easiest person to sell to is another salesman) a snazzy new, high-end laptop with an 80-gig drive.

And what does he use his laptop for? E-mail. Nothing but e-mail. On an 80-gig drive.


omer 9 years ago

It's concerning how difficult communication trough written word still is. The article firmly stated that it was just comparing the "user experience in 9/5 _average_ office work". Shure, there are a lot of engeneering bureaus where the average work in their office will differ a whole lot from the average computer use in a say video edititing house and so on. Still many replies seem to try to bring up a "Mac vs PC" or "processor computing power difference" flame. @-)

Is'n it funny that when we buy a vehicle we mostly know if we need a speedy viper or ferrari, a family-car, a truck or an agricolture tractor. If we buy clothes, we (at least the males of this species ;-)) know mostly if we need a tux for some cerimony, some polo shirt for an other occurrence or some working suite.

But if we buy computers, we seem to accept to buy and use a shoe that can autofit itself _more or less_ to our foot size, transform itself from it's elegant form in to cowboy boots or ballerina sandals or a running shoe, even if we use the shoe as "every day shoe" and we're going for some jogging only after x-mas when the wife states that we should do more for our fitness. And accept it even if this shoe needs loads of energy, which is gained polluting the world, for keeping it's current used form.

Keep in mind, that in europe two atomic power-stations are needed only to produce the energy for the stand-by mode of devices (be it things like television, vcr, computers or _door bells_)

Isb't the mankind strange?!

I hope at least some readers will recognize the allegory in my writing.

@Hal Licino and some others

Good article! Interesting reading and opinions. I liked it. :-)


Hummmm 9 years ago

Back in the early days when Win 16/32 API was the choice for serious windows programming (MFC never really caught on) you had to write your own code for basically everything from checking where the mosue was clicked to implementing the callback funtions and resource scripts. It was painful. There was like a 1000 ways to do the same thing. You can spent months Optimizing API calls. Sometime even the order of API calls gave you huge increase in performance. And even stranger sometimes by calling a different function that does the a similar job can increase performace by alot! (undocumanted APIs).

With automatic code generator and .NET framework all theses portion of code that can affect performance greatly have been standardized and even keep out of reach. Programmers can concentrate on functionality of theur programs. Even if the programmers write shitty code, performance problems occurs only when the user use that paticulur function. But a poorly written message event handler can tax you everytime when a button is click, new window is load etc....


Guy 9 years ago

I have to laugh at all these nerds. What have MP3s got to do with PRODUCTIVITY in an OFFICE?

Most people use their computers as TOOLS, they write their letter, print it out, and they're gone.


Guest 9 years ago

I just wanted to point out that a Mac could not truly multitask until OS X. Just in case there was any confusion ;) Also it is good to keep in mind that the windows machine IS running 10 times the amount of programs (multitasking) in the background while your old mac is not capable of such a task.


a c 9 years ago

excellent article.


MatD 9 years ago

The Mac could "multitask" long before MacOS X.  MacOS X brought true system-wide pre-emtpive multitasking, sure... But the Mac could still multitask applications cooperatively (with Desk Accessories and MultiFinder), and some system functions pre-emptively (background printing for example).  


Man de Hu 9 years ago

Ah, WriteNow! The app I miss *MOST* from MacOS ≤9.2.2. I just can't understand why this app, taken over from the NeXT (basis on which OS X is built) hasn't been *incorporated* into OS X


Kristopher 9 years ago

MysterGag: I think the issue is partially that now most have MS Windows while then most had the Mac.


Steve 9 years ago

Another major part of the overall "user experience" is sound level. Compare the near silent fan-less mac (only hard-drive noise) against modern desktops with 2, 3 or sometimes 4 fans blowing and making noise.

Part of the reason computer manufacturers and OS designers go for bloat is consumer tendencies to make purchases based on the length of the feature list. Consumers have a responsibility to purchase wisely, ignoring the most bloated models. In reviews, blogs, and discussion boards everyone needs to keep complaining and ask for small, fast, efficient systems.


Alejandro 9 years ago

In 2007, VISTA needs at least 1.000.000.000 bytes just to type "hello" in Word 2007.

In 1969, the Apollo's spacecraft computer needed 4.000 bytes to do all the real time calculation to land in the moon with an error smaller than a few feet.


JHyde 9 years ago

Thanks for the time warp and enlightening article. The underlying theme is spot on. My first Mac was an SE/30, and I loved it. Anybody remember the talking moose?

Some posts come from people who don't really know or remember what the Mac was capable of back then. You could run multiple apps in Multifinder. Many people were still using DOS then, even after Windows 3.1 came along.

Running Word and Excel, performing mail merges, etc. was very fast and efficent. I also can tell you that large FileMaker and FoxPro databases were handled without draining the system. Quark and PageMaker also performed very well with the graphics of that time. Also, the Mac used SCSI back then, which std. PC's did not. Networking? You didn't need Novell, it was built into the Mac system.

Even with how the Macs have evolved into our current digital and multimedia experience, OS X is far less bloated and more secure than Vista, and now we dream of Leopard... May Apple continue to innovate and evolve. Don't worry Windows users, Microsoft will copy it eventually.


Ajejandro 9 years ago

IBM's PC-DOS is so eficient that I still use it for all our accounting and billing.

I wrote all the programs in QBasic. They run so quick in a 80386 that I just didn't

compile them.

I wrote the programs in 1990. They still run in the same 52Mby HD: 17 years, 5 days a week, 9 hours a day.

Our Word Prossesor: 1986 Profesional Writer.

In 17 years, the 80386 was never been rebooted.

But at home, I run RedHat 9.


Guest 9 years ago

Wow....this is so comparing apples to oranges....


Me 9 years ago

Yeah well this article is rubbish. Lets compare Mac OSX to the old macs. Comeon really I installed OSX and it took over 30 minutes. Look at how much word processors and other programs do now compared to back then, of course they take more resources, but hey they have thesuaruses, distionaries, graphical capabilities way beyond the old classic MAC just to name a few. You talk about how much resources Windows uses, look at how much it takes for OSXtiger to run smoothly.Compare the Classic Mac to a new Mac if you want to be more precise on this. And oh yeah Im not a Mac basher because I have used them for years and own 2 IMACs and one PowerMac (as well as PC's and Amigas). So by all means bash Windows for its faults (and yes there are a lot), but dont do a comparison like this cause its not a true benchmark at all


algr 9 years ago

The reason for using a Mac for the "old" computer is that despite it's b/w graphics, it delivers an almost totally modern user experence.  How many (young) people today have any idea how to launch a program from DOS?  I don't.


Me 9 years ago

Give me a break man, use an Amiga you get all that plus superb graphics , stereo sound not to mention hey desktop publishing, do that on the MAC of the same era. DUH this is about a MAC lover wanting to make a mute point. Fact of the matter is can your word processesor on that Mac be able to do a quarter of what they can now....NO. Sure it takes more power to run things now days, but they also incorporate a lot more in a single program now days too. Like I said before look at the Classic Mac OS specs and Look at OSX Tiger, how come the new Mac OS cant runoff of 1 MB of RAM and install on 20 MB HDD space, the same reason XP or Vista can't. Point made.


Me 9 years ago

Oh and yes i do agree with you on the funtionality of the old Mac OS, it was nice. Don't get me wrong i am by no means pro-Windows. Just had to add that to clarify where i stand. By the way I been around plenty long and have used plenty of different computers, os's and yes even DOS also.-Cheers


you 9 years ago

Um WHo cares, you bunch of freak MAC activists


Bill 9 years ago

Not to pick nits, but 4MB of RAM and 40MB HD was an absolute *monster* machine in 1986.


My 2 cents 9 years ago

I still don't understand the argument of those who have a problem with this experiment/article.  For heaven's sake people IT ISN'T ABOUT MAC vs. PC!!  Leave this stupid argument alone and actually read the article.  This article hits the point with how bloated every thing has become even though our needs hasn't really changed.  We have stereos for music, we have places where we can take our film/data to be developed.  As consumers, we are duped to believe we need all this computing power.  Most computer users I know only use Office, e-mail and surf the web.  It seems we are lured to "faster, more reliable, more powerful" machines, but in the end the software becomes bloated (why?  I don't know) and our once "new, faster, more reliable, more powerful" machines don't seem as fast or reliable or powerful.  Hence we end up buying another machine that will make the latest software run faster and the vicious cycle continues.  What else does the average user or office worker need to have computers do?  I owned a 486 (with Win 98) and a IIsi (System 7.1) and I remember using both to help create the invitations and ceremony program for my wedding (both included graphics) back in '98 (about 6 years after the IIsi was bought).  I don't see anything new today that the average user needs for every day use.  I think programmers are just sticking whatever they can think of to make it look like the program has improved when in fact it's just slowed down.  As for all this multimedia computing needs, if I need to listen to music, I'll just turn on my stereo and pop in a CD.  It seems more expensive to print out your photos when you could just send it to your nearest photo kiosk, developer, etc.  If you want to play games, go buy a PS3, XBox, etc. or go out and actually exercise.


Ramon Richie 9 years ago

Nice comparison!  It specially brings to light that there hasn't changed that much in usability. Just more color and graphics and so many bloated features that software is harde to use nowadays. Shame also is that the consistency those programs had back then is gone nowadays.  Using macdraw/write/draft, word, excel, writenow and even macpaint was a breeze.  These days even word, excel or outlook are different across different versions!


MacApp 9 years ago

Run a 86 Mac Plus emulator on that 07 AMD.. ;-)


Legacy MacMan 9 years ago

Before I begin I would like to say that I understand the point of the article and its downfalls as well.

Bloat. What an excellent way to put it. I am not saying Mac OSX is not to blame for having some, but I would like to say this: My family's 1.42GHz G4 processor, 512 MB ram, and 80GB HDD toting Mac Mini runs OSX 10.4.3 faster, with widgets a.k.a.: background programs, then my (for gaming purposes only, and I acknowledge the response that that will cause) P4 1.8GHz, 512MB PC800 RAM PC with two 20GB HDDs (one is currently empty) running Windows 2000 Professional.

Now, I would not want to see a Mac Plus, SE, Classic, Color Classic, or even 128k (brush of some brain cells boys) even attempt to do anything I do on a daily basis -I enjoy using them CORRECTLY too much to watch them suffer, and yes I have all listed in my house at this time, two of them in my room- I would like to acknowledge the amazing job that was done in those days to make them do what they did.

As for the internet, It is so completely bloated with pictures and junk that you need a high speed connection just to make e-mailing somebody an easy and enjoyable experience. I have a 56k dial-up connection running at full capability (about 49333 bps) on the previously mentioned Mac Mini and even Gmail takes a good minute to load sometimes, if I do not stop everything else I am doing otherwise, but playing a nine year old video game online (Starcraft) runs without a hitch.

Thanks for the great article. It had a great point, even if it left out a few details some people rudely pointed out. Like the Plus' lack of a CD drive. But at least it has a built in speaker, even brand new PC's lack that nice little feature (my little rude counter point, I hope you take it well).

You have to take in the context of the times people. Yes, the AMD could eat the Plus for all imagined meals if it was doing something like watching movies, but who even dreamed of a computer doing that in 1986?!!! Come on!

Thanks again for the great article Hal.

(weird little thing, my schools Apple network is called HAL)

RTH of the palouse hills. Home of the country boys, and my Mac maniac of a dad who lived in the era of the plus. (he has fond memories of one of his macs booting in 4 seconds and typing in 6)


Jeff Lebowski 9 years ago

And this is why I'M SURE anybody in their right mind would rather have the MacPlus, rather than the more modern machine. As I'm sure you do, right?

All tests done with no other tasks open?

Because, surely nobody would open a word document AT THE SAME TIME they're working on a spreadsheet, right? If you want get really crazy, maybe have your email open during all this... Yeah, I know. No point, because nobody ever does this, right?


Legacy Mac Man, Sr. 9 years ago

Is your computer a tool or a toy?  How much has your computer cost?  How much has it earned?  

My Quadra 700, purchased used for $200 is still in use earning money.  Our Mini gets more daily use for multi-media and is still costing money.  My accelerated SE w/ math coprocessor and a dual monitor card earned money for more than a decade.

Word 5.1a still earns me more money than any newer word processor.  Word from Office 2004 crashes OS X when using something as simple as copy and paste from the web.  Filemaker, created by Nashoba, and in use since 1985 continues to earn me money.  That is over two decades of productivity at real world tasks.

People say e-mail is free.  Are you crazy?  E-mail requires expensive equipment and invites viruses and more junk mail than the US Postal Service.

In this electronic age, we forget that we need food to eat and food comes from the ground, not from the store, not from the internet, not from electronics.  For all of our technological advances, nothing is more important than food, clothing and shelter.  If your computer helps you afford those items, it is making you money.   But, the real world is about food to eat.  That is what is meant by getting back to basics.  

This article was about getting back to basic tasks.  A car can be built for speed or miles per gallon.  If a race car runs out of gas before reaching its destination, it goes from 200 miles per hour to zero miles per hour.  And it is passed by the car going 55 mph with the same size gas tank.

For those of us who learned to program mainframes in the sixties, play games in the 70 and needed to work in the ‘80, desktop publishing represented a revolution of productivity.  A Day Star accelerated Mac II in the ‘80s would boot in 4 seconds and allow you to be typing in six seconds from power on.  Even the stock but wicked fast Mac IIfx from the ‘90s takes 6 seconds to boot and ten seconds before you can type or fax at the still top speed of 14.4 kps.

New and improved is not always improved.  Different does not mean better.  Getting the job done means something different for everyone.  But for some of us, we have gotten more done in the last two decades using old stuff than someone using the latest machine to play Oblivion. 


David Spalding 9 years ago

Interesting piece, and all the comments (sure stirred up attention, didn't'cha?). I appreciated your points, but in proving them, you overlooked some things that are unavoidable. Due to very imprecise OS and app design, systems now need overhead of antivirus and antispyware security wares. More so on Windows, but still an issue for documents passing through Macs. In fact, last night, I disabled my Bit Defender software as it was maxing out the processor while nothing much was being done. Suddenly Word and Outlook and Photoshop opened 150% faster.

You also use "writing reports and filling in cells" as the benchmark of everyday computing for 9-to-5ers. I disagree. Today, business requires e-mail, online chat, ticketing or workflow software, intranet navigation, etc. Some of these require client server apps, others require client-side rendering apps (browsers + plug-ins). Add to that, today's OSs have a plethora of drivers and utilities which have accumulated from the computers 20 years ago. Yesterday's neat-o add-ins are today's must-haves. (Remember "multimedia extensions?")

I agree that today's computers should be much, much faster. With video coprocessor cards with more RAM than my old Pentium III had, accelerated bus speeds, faster hard drives, and the explosion of internal RAM and L2 caches, you'd think software would make the most of this for efficiency. But efficiency isn't driving the biz; features are. So we get more and more bells 'n whistles, while (ahem) Linux distros deliver the OS that's been missing. Can you say that Vista is any better than XP? I can't. It's just ... prettier. Bleah.


Nicholaspaul 9 years ago

MAC activists? LOL It's funny how you get labelled for being brand devoted. Why don't NY baseball fans get called 'Yankees activists'? Oh, because they're FANS! Too funny...

Well, I have to say that I enjoy any article that promotes using older gear vs following trends and chasing the new just because Best Buy has a deal on Pentium XX 14 GHz monsters. I see using old gear as a GREEN issue. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. As a working pro I use a maxed out G4, but also enjoy using much older stuff(G3,PIII, Powermac 6100).

Down with gear lust, and up with productivity :-)


Jancat 9 years ago

What an odd test design...select only the few tests the old machine can do. It's like saying "let's see who's faster, an old lady walking using a walker and an athlete walking with her feet hobbled and using a walker."

I don't think the "common" tasks are actually "common" at all. For example, I usually only open a document one time during an editing session so opening it quickly doesn't make a lot of difference to my productivity. I usually only boot once every several weeks. That 50 sec. boot time doesn't really matter very much. Small spreadsheets are the norm? according to whom? And having multiple documents open and displayed side-by-side on my dual monitors? That really speeds my daily tasks up but forget about it for these tests.

If you carefully choose the tests to favor the weaker machine, the results are pretty predictable and not very enlightening.


Ingemar 9 years ago

Nice test. Forget the Mac/PC wars, the fact is that most of the speed gain is wasted. The examples are endless of programs and OSes that slow down about as much as the computers get faster. The systems simply consume all available resources until it almost gets too slow. If you want speed, run old versions on new computers, if at all possible.

But I must say that video coding is a lot more fun on my Core 2 Duo than it was on my PowerPC. That's straight number-crunching and that's where we have won a lot.


penguin 9 years ago

It would be a bit fairer if you had disabled most visual effects in XP... in which case I am sure the AMD would have won more often. It is tragically that MicroSoft too often puts the development focus on eyecandy, not on security or optimisation.

I would recommend Ubuntu Linux w/ Abiword/Gnumeric for the AMD - can you test this vs the old mac?

Greetings, LX


Petr 9 years ago

Another MAC fanatic doing a MAC/PC war.

Sorry but a comparison between the 86 Mac and Mac OS X would have had the same results...


Danmer 9 years ago

I would like to include my old typewriter to this test..... It would beat both systems by far in boot time, printing time ( by the time I had my last key pushed, my document would be printed already) and the application launch time was instantaneous.

This test doesn't say anything.


Perry Munger 9 years ago

Heh. This really isn't fair. The Mac Plus is the machine that moved me off x86 onto Mac hardware so long ago. I had a 486 DX2/66 with 24mb ram and a 340mb disk running OS/2, and for normal user stuff like editing text, the mac plus whupped up on it. Oh, for the days when programmers counted bytes...


Defrags 9 years ago

Wich computer is nowaday not connected to internet even if its only for office work ?


Thomas 9 years ago

Dumb article, dumber conclusio. "productivity" has nothing to do with "boot time" oder "time to start an application".


Brian 9 years ago

About ten years back I had a bunch of Citrix 233MHz machines with 32MB of RAM (shared with video). I did a test to see how fast the system could boot, so I installed Windows 95B with limited bells and whistles. It took about three seconds from the clouds to the login prompt. (TCP/IP networking was installed, too.) After installing Office 95, boot time jumped to about 15 seconds. Go figure.


Mikey 9 years ago

Computing was rubbish back then.Ten years ago you'd have to wake up half way through the night to check for postscript print problems, drive proofs across town, and archive work to a stack of floppies to physically take to the printers. I've just knocked out a 4 metre wide banner in photoshop, PDF'd for approval, yahoo'd off some artwork and downloaded some software, whilst receiving my podcasts in the background and typing this - with not a wire in sight.Install disk 1...


Lisa 9 years ago

Nice article, it's sad that most people don't get the point of it.  Now I don't use word on my computer at work (P4 2.8Ghz XP, 256mb ram), but I do use an online database accessed via IE6.  It needs rebooting every day, and takes about 4-5 minutes to get to the point of where I can start launching applications (mainly IE and wordpad)...  This machine would run windows 98 really really nicely but due to the bloat of the OS, the browser (i'd hate to see IE7 on it) and the bloat of the online database software (it's more then just a php form on a web site) the machine supplied to me at work crawls along.  I end up waiting for the computer to catch up to me far to often. My job could be done with dBaseIII+, wordpad and a less bloated tabbed browser and I would probably save the company an hour of time per day...  Yes doubling the ram to 512mb or a gig would make a huge difference but that's not my doing.My home machines are used for entertainment purposes so this test isn't applicable for that, but I have no use for all the features of the latest copy of office (I think I'm still using 97 on the pc, the mac has 2004 but that's because that's what came with it)


nsnipe 9 years ago

Let's do this: put winXp on mac plus (whats is impossible) and put OS 6 on amd (even through VM) and do the tests. Although comparing AMD X2 with Dual cpu G5 with linux os I think test result would be almoust same.


Coltaine 9 years ago

Well put any *nix system against the bloated windoze and see what happens.


MaxP 9 years ago

Great Article!I've started "working" with computers by the age of 3 with my LC I. Great machine, a three year old could handle it.. I handled it!! ;)my 4 year old dualG4 can handle cs3 and 10.4.9, whilst my p4/3.0 gave up with vista.. ;)i love macs, and i know why


GEM 9 years ago

Much software is really quite efficicent, it is just not very well managed. We have far to many parasitic processes in both Linux and Windows that get triggered by software. We tend to ignore their stealing of clock cycles and ram untill we get jammed up. The classic is the virus checker, others are apps that seed scripting processes that are simply TSR's Leave a window or a linux machine on for a while and work on it with a bunch of apps and then take a look at all the esoteric deamons/processes you need to kill, but you really are not sure if a shared library or a DLL will get axed and the house of cards comes crumbling down on an app you have running and really need to complete. GUI's are nice but they come with a price regardless of X-windows or MS Windows - we click madly to get to a point where we work - if it a a big task its okay, if it is too simple (like a calculator) we feel cheated and your father holds up his TI and snickers at your pain. We humans just have bad ergonomic/efficiency habits, open a command prompt if it is simple forego the scenic route (e.g a 4 character file name can be typed faster than windows - try it - if you cant do it - why are to text messaging on you cell phone?. Even managing our icons we get lost - can't find it in the organizational mess we make of things because we don't do things linearly for ourselves and that is one reason why the our perceptions of computer 'experience' subjectively clashes. Added Features need to simplify, not complicate I hate drilling down endless child windows or tapping function keys till I find the right one in combination with a second key (this is like trying to program my VCR). I believe apps should have better management of configuration especially backwards compatibility - Type in a version you like and the spiffy bloated app you have can slim itself down and lose 20 Megs and 20 processes in the process. Need the steroids - then dial it up. Try color coding the apps that are running so that you can turn off whole blocks of parasitic code. Give us poor programming smucks some easy control over our resources!!!!!! Some folks will get their simple activities to speed up to the point where we don't have to roll our eyse when we see these comparisons. Oh - if you don't know some of the history of programming languages and compilers - I have to scratch my head and ask how the #!?$## did 'C' ever supplant formal assembly language compiler design? Template programming of compilers ah well itsl probrably because (1) good assmbly code comes hard (over a hundred lines a day is ripping) and (2) organizing it is just too much effort to make it standard, modular, expandable, and compact all in the same breath.


Anonymous Forum Convo 9 years ago

Quote: When we look at OS hard disk requirements, we find similar discrepancies. System 6.0.8 requires 1MB, Windows XP requires 1.5GB and Windows Vista 15GB. Yes, Vista needs 15,000 times the hard disk space as System 6.0.8. In simple text format, you can write 175,000 words in one megabyte which is the size of System 6.0.8. That works out to about two full-length novels. Windows Vista demands enough real estate on your hard drive that you could easily fit 30,000 full-length novels into it.

(Person 1)

"The point here being? How big is OS X again? How many full length novels does OS X equal? And why do people insist on storage-as-text comparisons? If they wanted to do anything but Windows bash they would have compared it to OS X at the same time. I bet OS X doesn't boot to the desktop in 11 seconds. Yeah, the mac from 1986 was less advanced, but holy crap so were the things it did/could do. I get this comparison from a "fun" standpoint...but even mentioning a "winner" smells a bit like moldy fish.

Oh and P.S.: Vista doesn't require 15GB of hard drive space, I have Home Premium installed on an 18GB partition and over half of the partition is still free and that INCLUDES a 750-1024MB pagefile! "

Quote: thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity. (Person 1)"re tard ed"

(Person 2)

Props to tight programming and making use of that you have. I am a fan of new tech, but hell, if I can work on an old Mac or Atari, i am down!

(Person 1)

"See thats my point though...how do you know it was "tight programming"? Now, what I would like to see is an '86 mac, the comparable best offering from the "PC" world, and ok then you can throw the new tech in too. They do even halfway admit that it wasn't doing the same tasks, so pit it up against new tech but give us some frame of reference, was the PC of olden days "better" than new tech, or was the apple better than the PC in these specific tasks? I dunno, it just seems like a PC bashing article without any useful information, like I said you have no idea if the software was exceptionally good for the time, nor does it's comparison to othe software of today tell you ANYTHING. Their claim that in the intervening years productivity has not gone up AT ALL is just garbage, of the worst order. They say in one aforementioned paragraph that the newer computer does more, but then say that productivity couldn't possibly increase, because we all know that 99.999% of what we do with our PC is directly related to context menu draw times or whatever stupid crap was in that test. And silly things like multiple database links and connectivity to other systems, and integration in general, which has VERY heavily influenced the increases in productivity for most office users (Exchange, Outlook, Excel, hell Sharepoint/Word) are ignored. I'm all for a fun meaningless comparison, I just think the conclusion is a bunch of retarded crap with no basis whatsoever in reality. He took a system he probably is a fan of, compared it to a PC (not a current day mac even!) and based on how long it takes contexts menu's to draw he de facto states that productivity has stayed the same or worse of the last 20 years. l o l I dunno, btw, I know this probably sounds REALLY uppity like "OMG THAT FUCKER!!!" but let me assure you, I just like analytical stuff, and I talk a lot about stuff that interests me, so nobody should misconstrue my abundance of words on this topic as a heated demeanor. "

(Person 2)

Quote: Quote: Person 2 wrote: Props to tight programming and making use of that you have. I am a fan of new tech, but hell, if I can work on an old Mac or Atari, i am down! See thats my point though...how do you know it was "tight programming"? I know it was tight programming because I have been in computing since 1984. The things programs did with 64K was great. Then came 128 K machines and then 512K. The things programs did with those machines was great. They knew back then and forgot how to program. The solution to most problems now is throw more memory in it. Heck, i will even go as far as to see the Programmers were more environmentally friendly then and not now. The comparison is a testimony to the fact that productivity has stayed the same and no innovation has been made. Just more parts, more pollution and used up earth resources. (the chips got to come from where, so does the copper and gold) Quote: Now, what I would like to see is an '86 mac, the comparable best offering from the "PC" world, and ok then you can throw the new tech in too. Have you ever had 86 PC? I think not. If you did you would not have made that statement. We are talking boat anchors and about 16-color 286. Code: 1986: April - IBM announces the IBM PC Convertible, 80C88-based, 256K RAM, and two 720K floppy disks, for US$2000. 1986: April - IBM discontinues the IBM Portable PC. 1986: September - IBM announces the IBM PC-XT Model 286, with 640KB RAM, 1.2MB floppy drive, 20MB hard drive, serial/parallel ports, and keyboard for US$4000. And you want to compare that to a Mac. Hell Even Atari got you more shit! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_st Quote: I dunno, it just seems like a PC bashing article without any useful information, like I said you have no idea if the software was exceptionally good for the time, nor does it's comparison to othe software of today tell you ANYTHING. It was not PC bashing. I look at it as Programmer bashing. Nothing new in innovation in productivity. Quote: Their claim that in the intervening years productivity has not gone up AT ALL is just garbage, of the worst order. They say in one aforementioned paragraph that the newer computer does more, but then say that productivity couldn't possibly increase, because we all know that 99.999% of what we do with our PC is directly related to context menu draw times or whatever stupid crap was in that test. And silly things like multiple database links and connectivity to other systems, and integration in general, which has VERY heavily influenced the increases in productivity for most office users (Exchange, Outlook, Excel, hell Sharepoint/Word) are ignored. But think about the average user. You and I are not average users. We are in the IT field. But think about the secretary in the front office... She uses word, makes an occasional flyer with a picture in it and sends e-mail. Mind you we are talking PC on the desktop not severs. Quote: I'm all for a fun meaningless comparison, I just think the conclusion is a bunch of retarded crap with no basis whatsoever in reality.

Not crap, but an eye opener. I did not do this to bash you, but to be a little more open minded. For the arguments you make, there is alot of intelligence behind it, but you argue one side. How would look if we didn't question it or argue it."

(Person 1)

I'm all for trips down memory lane but... "I know it was tight programming because I have been in computing since 1984. The things programs did with 64K was great. Then came 128 K machines and then 512K. The things programs did with those machines was great. They knew back then and forgot how to program. The solution to most problems now is throw more memory in it. Heck, i will even go as far as to see the Programmers were more environmentally friendly then and not now." First of all, unless you were a programmer in 1984 I don't see how the end user experience is indicative of anything other than seat of the pants guesstimations. Second, the first PC I had, as in was owned by my family (first computer I used regularly was a C


Anonymous Forum Convo 9 years ago

(Person 1) continued...

"I know it was tight programming because I have been in computing since 1984. The things programs did with 64K was great. Then came 128 K machines and then 512K. The things programs did with those machines was great. They knew back then and forgot how to program. The solution to most problems now is throw more memory in it. Heck, i will even go as far as to see the Programmers were more environmentally friendly then and not now." First of all, unless you were a programmer in 1984 I don't see how the end user experience is indicative of anything other than seat of the pants guesstimations. Second, the first PC I had, as in was owned by my family (first computer I used regularly was a C64), had 64k of RAM, it was slow and stupid, and crappy, and then came the tandy after that which was...sadly a step up. So I guess that puts me around 1988, and the first things I did with computers were along the lines of BASIC programming. I don't remember the name of it (been a long ass time) but there was this really great DOS terminal application, I wanna say it was VTERM, and I was so enamored by it and so interested in computers that I rewrote it in BASIC, it sucked nuts, because I rewrote a C app in BASIC, lol, but it worked. So, yeah, we are going to have to take a moratorium on the "I've been around since" implication that some dumb kid can't possibly know what he's talking about. What "things" did computers do with 64k that was so great? And what software do you use that "throw more memory in it" is the norm? Only genre I can think of for that is gaming which uh, is pretty freaking insane anyway so thats hardly an argument. I haven't heard the "throw more memory" argument since the late 90's. Buy better software if thats the trends you see, because I don't really run into that anywhere else. "Have you ever had 86 PC? I think not. If you did you would not have made that statement. We are talking boat anchors and about 16-color 286." ...did I say they'd win? And yes, I did, the first computer my family owned, shit man, you couldn't use that as a boat anchor, it would sink the damned boat at the dock! I don't remember ALL the specs, I only remember it was an 8086, I was lucky enough to work some summer jobs to upgrade to a 286 a couple years later (my first 286 was...1990?). So, yes, I can hang out in the old folks home on this one too. It may also surprise you to know I've seen a bunch of episodes of the Dick van Dyke show (and thought they were funny), and a bunch of other shows that were made before "my time". My two favorite movies in the world (Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep) were made in the 1940's, and I like classic music from the 1800's on back. So if everyone around here can spare me the "kid" bullshit that would be great. I swear to god, one more person I work with, or talk to, gives me this "before your time" bullshit I'm going to go apetits on someone. Back on topic. "It was not PC bashing. I look at it as Programmer bashing. Nothing new in innovation in productivity. " ...ok, aside from the fact that you can't point out anything they actually did that was so incredible (other than the fact that at the time it WAS incredible because computers were so new) with what they had, please, do me a favor. Go home tonight, fire up BASIC, a VERY common language around that time, and use it to play a simple beep sound, and draw a filled square. Then, I was you to fire up visual studio, and use OpenGL (hell, use DX if you want I don't care), do the same thing. Now...which one is smaller? BASIC right? Now, draw a 3D room in BASIC...and give the user the ability to move around that room at will. ... Whats the matter? You can't do that with BASIC? Ok, put in a looping electric sound, like arcing or whatever. ... Can't do that either? Maybe all that "useless" "bloat" is there because the foundations of DX/OGL allow you to do things so far beyond BASIC that any comparison is STUPID. More to the point, fire up that old 1986 Mac and VPN to your work machine from home. Check your email. Check your webmail. Work with one of the millions of SERVER side access databases I and many others deal with on a regular basis. Maybe make a VoIP call to another dept via your PC. IM someone 2 floors down (or two buildings over) to ask them what the status of this or that is. Restart your virtual PC so you have a clean environment to continue testing your software in without reinstalling the OS/software by hand, in 2 minutes. Open up work and callaborate on a document on the sharepoint in real time with two other people. Nothing new in innovation in productivity my ass. I understand that this crowd is hevy on nostalgia, I get it, you had more fun with technology back then because that was before it was a job to you, before it was about paying your bills. That makes it a fond memory, but doesn't make it suck any less. The article itself even mentions that the computers of today do a lot more than the old ones, it doesn't even try to pretend that the old one holds a candle to the amount of "stuff" the new ones can do. But then it goes on to say that because the context menu was drawn in 0.7 seconds vs 1.3 seconds, today's computers are as bad, if not worse, than the computers of yore. So, yeah, you know what, they DID manage to fit an entire OS into 64K of RAM or less...but guess what...thats because it didn't do 1/1000th of what todays computers do. So yes, I WOULD find it more entertaining to compare two computers that were AVAILABLE in 1986, regardless of how one sided it may be, than to see someone compare the draw times of context menus and use that to say that productivity has stayed the same or likely gotten worse in the past twenty years. I'll be thinking of that the next time I type a one paragraph IM instead of waiting two hours to get ahold of someone on a conference call who can still answer me because they can IM me. "But think about the average user. You and I are not average users. We are in the IT field. But think about the secretary in the front office... She uses word, makes an occasional flyer with a picture in it and sends e-mail. Mind you we are talking PC on the desktop not severs." Thats not even close to the reality of the secretaries at the last two places I worked. "Not crap, but an eye opener." Not really, it doesn't suprise me even a little that the basic, BASIC, functionality of the computers back then was done quicker than the things done today. Hell, you know, I bet a big part of that reason is threading. You remember the good old days of Win95 on back, right? What happend if a process hung? Reset. Why? Because it was dumb, the computer was dumb, it just said "RUN THIS! NOW!" and if it freaked out there was no thread handler to say "oh, look, ted from Web Browsing is drinking on the job again...let's shut him down so we can get back to work". Surprise surprise, that adds overhead. It also adds redundancy, reliability, and a whole host of functions that computers of that time couldn't offer. But yes, it does mean there is a couple extra layers to traverse before your context menu can be drawn. "I did not do this to bash you, but to be a little more open minded. For the arguments you make, there is alot of intelligence behind it, but you argue one side. How would look if we didn't question it or argue it." Hey, no sweat here, I don't take this as a bash at all, I hope the same can be said likewise. It's a conversation about a topic which both of us clearly have an interest in. Thats the only kind of people I really care to have a conversation like this with. So what if we don't agree, I don't have to agree with you to learn something new, or get a new viewpoint on something, or have an en


Niall 9 years ago

Excellent point. I've always upgraded hardware without changing the software when I could, resulting in total and immediate usability improvements. It's only on my latest upgrade that I finally hit The Wall, where hardware demands a minimum of software to run (verdammt mainboards not supporting 98 :)). Even then, I take older tech and boost it with more modern components - such as Win2k meant to run with 512MB, and putting 1GB - it flies! That, and older versions of most software - and far more importantly, NO MICROSOFT OFFICE.

The boot time, however, is horrendous - well over three minutes. Must check all the stuff that's loading...


Niall 9 years ago

Forgot a crucial point - I never upgrade software and OSs until I also hit the functionality wall - when I _need_ to upgrade. This also has helped usability. I carefulyl checked if I needed the 'new' functions adding overhead to the process, and didn't switch until I did. By that time I had hardware that was more advanced than what the original software specs demanded. For my situation, that's win-win.


markus5 9 years ago

Is'nt this a bit like comparing the original VW Golf GTi with the latest version ? Not much difference in performance figures - but which one would you rather live with on a day to day basis ?


Ruhayat 9 years ago

I agree with the comment re: the Atari ST. I used an Amiga 500 before and everything that can be done in a GUI operating environment today could be done on the Amiga 15 years ago. And it all fit on a couple of floppies!

You would have thought that the next step forward from that was to fit everything into ROM and have an instant-on/off appliance. Because that's what a PC is, at the end of the day: an appliance that helps you do work. By all means, have a separate graphics or gaming workstation market, but 80% of the people using PCs probably could get by with a toaster-like device.

Power consumption is another thing. For what they do today (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations) most PCs consume way too much power. Going from that, you would have thought all OS today would be written into a ROM that is then fitted into a pizza case. The Mac Mini comes close, but that PCs in the Small Form Factor category don't sell too well perhaps speaks volumes of the human condition and its predeliction with size.


Geezer 9 years ago

> Ah, WriteNow! The app I miss *MOST* from MacOS ≤9.2.2. I just can't

> understand why this app, taken over from the NeXT

> (basis on which OS X is built) hasn't been *incorporated* into OS X

WriteNow was the best word processing software ever. I use MSWord every freakin' day, and for all its ungodly bloated unusable girth, there are STILL things it can't do easily that (a) I would really like it to do, and (b) WriteNow did easily. Like styles that aren't paragraph-bound, and can be globally edited with a few keystrokes.


TechJunkie 9 years ago

This is really a lame article. It sounds like a bunch of oldies complaining how everything (once upon a time) was wonderful and how the new generation has screwed up all that!!!

Completely idiotic comparison. I could run my C program mush faster on a non-GUI terminal and get "job done". But, the point is that I could not do pretty much anything else on it!!! Anyway, not even worth commenting. Sorry guys!


David 9 years ago

Generally I agree with the article. With current computers (Mac and Windows) it generally takes me much longer to decide that the system has hung and I have to cycle the power to reboot, because I have to decide if the computer is just busy doing something. Previously, the computer was only doing one thing, and it was simple to decide that it had frozen...

Most of my writing now is done with LaTeX and/or LyX, packages that don't suffer from bloat and have benefitted immensely with the new, faster processors, hard drives and networks.


Sam 9 years ago

I suggest you to test small, light and laconic stool with big, heavy and full of "useless" soft parts modern office chair.

Don't compare incomparebale things.

BTW, it takes less then 30 sec. to boot Win XP on my 2500+ AMD.


Torbjörn 9 years ago

God bless the software guys! They keep us hardware people busy and make sure we can continue to sell ever more powerfull computers when users have to upgrade every second year or so.


stormer 9 years ago

Haha, great article!

For all the people with comments, I have this to say to you "You just don't get it, do you?" I'm sure your pc can multitask. And it boots in 30 seconds. And it can surf the internet with 9 windows open, while you are folding at home. And you are doing a mailmerge of 150000 people.....in colour.

If we have Moore's Law, and all that, why, after all this time, don't we have a pc that boots in 0.8 seconds?


antnis 9 years ago

Oh yeah and I want a car that runs without fuel too.


Barney 9 years ago

Multitasking and networking have improved dramatically in the last 20 years.

Today I participated in a Netmeeting with folks from across town and in Germany. No one had to leave their desk. Only about 25% of the meeting was relevant to me. I was able to work on other things while the non-relevant parts of the meeting progressed. Had I been using a AppleII I wouldn't have had to waste an hour driving across town and back because Netmeeting wouldn't work and the Germans would have been excluded because AppleTalk was non-routable. I would have had to sit through a 2 hour meeting for 15 minutes of content and I would not have been able to work on other items during the meeting.

Using 1986 technology, 3 hours would have been spent on one meeting with only 15 minutes of productive time.

Using 2007 technology, 2 hours were spent on the meeting and all the time was productive.


Niko 9 years ago

I had one Apple IIe genuine with 128KB RAM and after I read that I will turn on again!! I' love Ubuntu and all distro GNU/Linux :-)


Scooter 9 years ago

So you installed photoshop cs2 and ran unsharp mask on your jpeg images and tested that performance too right? You transferred digital video to the two computers and had it re-render and then burn onto dvd, and benchmark that, right?

Listen, I'm a mac user. I even where ironic mac t-shirts. But this post is ridiculous. The user experience has nothing in common.


gsawyn 9 years ago

I am in full agreement with those who comment that this is an unfair comparison; HOWEVER, the basic point is indiputable. The Operating Systems in use now are incredibly bloated, loaded with stuff that most normal users don't have any need for, full of cute graphic glitzy-ness for its own sake, etc etc etc. I have experienced this every single time I have made a so-called "upgrade". I shell out the bread to get a faster computer, and think, "Man, Photoshop is just going to burn, now!!!". But, sure enough, I also get a new OS, and a new version of Photoshop, and I'm back where I was; bottom line, nothing that I really use is really running any faster... I have intentionally not taken sides in the Mac/Win argument; I believe it's the same either way. I have a Mac G3/1 GHZ, and a Compaq P3/700, both of which I use regularly for various software. The Mac uses OS 9.2.2, the Compaq uses Windows 98; both work just fine and do everything I need to do very well. I have tried using Mac OS X 10.3.9 on the Mac, and it literally runs half as fast. I shudder to think about putting Windows XP on the Compaq. My belief is the only people who really benefit from all this "upgrade" nonsense is the manufacturers of the upgrades: it makes it possible to keep selling more RAM, bigger hard drives, and faster processors.


TedB 9 years ago

I've used PCs since the 80's, never used a mac. However I still think this was a very fair and useful comparison.

An equally fair and useful comparison might possibly have been to compare the performance of an old IBM XT running DOS with the new machine running Windows. The key comparison is user experience at the application level, word processing to word processing, or spread sheet to spread sheet.

I think that it is completely reasonable that we expect simple things (like typing a letter or working in a spreadsheet) to be given a 'fast path' through the inevitable bloatware that gets added to the code over time. Your tests support everyone's experience, which is that no effort has been made to 'fast track' the simple functions. I'm sure every keystroke in Word invokes hundreds of thousands of instructions where it was probably hundreds back in the days of DOS or early WIndows. The speed of the processors makes up for this, but as you say, just barely.

Let's try booting DOS onto the new hardware! :-)


gsawyn 9 years ago

Apologies; one more thing as an afterthought: There was a time when it was a "given" in web page design to make your page as compatible as possible with as many systems as possible. Now, people who design web pages are making sure that they work with only the latest and fastest systems available. For a long time, I have been able to use Internet Explorer 5 on a somewhat older Mac to web browse, bill-pay, online-shop, etc. Lately it's not working. Some sites are actually coming out and telling me I need to upgrade my Browser. As of about 2 weeks ago, not even Google's home page will load; all it does is lock up my browser. NO CHOICE-I either go to OS X or Windows XP to use a later browser, or I DON'T USE GOOGLE. The same is happening with EBAY and some of the phone and utility online payment web sites. This appears to be more of the industry's sledge-hammering us to upgrade whether we need to or not.


antnis 9 years ago

BTW, how may of you have tried using that mac mouse and keyboard lately? Like 8 hours a day?


Daniel L. Taylor 9 years ago

I have been screaming this to the heavens for the past 8 years! Thanks for confirming what I've intuitively known for a while now: that bloat is eating up improvements in CPU performance faster than the CPUs can improve.There's a lot that modern OS and software engineers could learn from the Mac Plus and original Mac OS, and I would love to see a modern OS that integrated some of the simplicity and speed of Mac OS Classic.- Mac OS Classic was configured using the file browser and simple control panels. Not a registry, and definetly not cryptic config files. Want to turn off an extension or startup program? Drag it to the trash and reboot. Want to add something? Drag it to your System folder and reboot.- The System folder consisted of a small set of well named and organized files, making file browser configuration by new users a real possibility. Note that because of these two features, spyware could have never survived on Mac OS Classic. Something odd with your machine? Look in the System folder. That doesn't belong there! Drag to trash and reboot. (Compare this to the infinite places on Windows where a developer can hide code to execute at boot.)- The OS could be repaired by booting from an external disk and copying files. Just two files could boot the Mac (Finder and System; 1 min OS install). Again, spyware and viruses had no where to hide on this OS!- Mac OS Classic applications were "all in one". A single file or folder represented the app and you could install / remove by dragging that file or folder around. Compare that to modern 1-hour installers which screw up your registry and dlls while spewing files across your drive! (Modern programmers can do the same on either Mac or Windows if they wanted to. The apps I write for both OSes are drag-to-install. It is a sick legacy of the sloppy coding at Microsoft that leaves most of the world's developers thinking it's OK to spew files all over a user's HD.)- There was nothing "special" about the properties or permissions of files on one hard drive that prevented a perfect copy to be made to another using just the OS. Try copying your Windows HD to an external HD, using just the OS, and then rebooting from the external. Try it with OS X. You could do that on Mac OS Classic. Today you need special software to make an exact, bootable copy, and even then you usually have to tweek the copy.- Mac OS Classic would boot from anything attached to it that had a System folder with Finder and System. Anything. And it was easy to choose which you wanted to boot from.- Mac OS Classic had a simple UI that focused on recognition speed and muscle memory. Microsoft's Office 2007 Ribbon is the result of software engineers who never once studied human machine interface design. They know nothing about how humans scan, interpret, recognize, and choose things. I've been developing software and using computers every day for two decades, and I've never operated more slowly than I do when I have to use Office 2007. I've never operated more quickly than I used to be able to with the Mac OS Classic file browser.Linux makes me want to cry because it breaks so many rules that it's unusable by any except an uber nerd. Windows is pure bloat that is going off in an akward UI direction with Vista (and consuming 99% of a machine's resources to do so). Mac OS X is nice, but also breaks some of the lessons learned from the original Mac.Oh well....


Jay 9 years ago

Not even adjusted for inflation, that 4MB 1986 Mac would have cost nearly 4 times what the 1GB AMD costs today, and was much more memory than a typical user could afford back then. I don't dispute software bloat, but a comparison of speed-per-dollar would also be interesting.


Mark 9 years ago

I fully agree with the loss in productivity. That little b&w screen and MacWrite wrote a lot of papers, newsletters, etc. Now, with all the computing horsepower at my fingertips, I can just as easily waste time web surfing as doing real work. The real culprits are not just bloated OS (Mac OS X included), but with all the email, websites, and visual noise (and even audio noise) that distract us. Need to make a simple label? Gotta buy a Dymo Labelwriter, etc.. when in the old days, I'd just use the typrewriter... and it took less time.


Brendan West 9 years ago

Hilarious article; i love my old Mac Plus, even though now I have a iMac 2ghz g5. I must say, though, that all these comments about 'Old PC vs. New Mac' and 'Old Mac vs New Mac' are largely unfounded. I've run startup comparisons of the Plus vs the iMac, and OSX starts up about seven seconds slower. Take into consideration also, that the new mac has a fair amount of stuff installed. In my memory, PCs old or new (Expect DOS, of course) were slow at startup. Not to mention that to meet the Mac Plus for operation times, you woud have to find a PC with DOS, which is no comparison, as DOS doesn't have anything to load.

One has to realise, though, that Apple and Windows have head in different directions. Apple has always been at the forefront of productivity and stability, while Windows has been superior at coexing the high end performance required for games and processor-heavy tasks. Unfortunatly for Microsoft, Apple is breaking into their market by using their hardware, whiel they flounder about with Vista trying to emulate Apple's ingenuity and stability.


Lance E Sloan 9 years ago

I love my Macs, but this is the stupidest comparison I've ever seen. Let's see you do the same tests with that 86 Mac Plus compared to a recent new Mac. The results would not be much different.

When you wrote, "Nobody's ever been crazy enough to do this!" I don't think "crazy" is the correct adjective to use.


Don McManamey 9 years ago

I went from a Commodore 128 to a Mac Plus.  I have been a diehard Mac user ever since.  My upgrades were generally to obtain ability such as Aiff and MP3 audio as well as video.  Thinking back, I remember a professor at a major universary who kept his Commodore on his desk along side his PC because for some things he could boot the Commodore, run the application and have his answer before the PC was done booting.  Perhaps not fair since OS was on ROM but still, if you are talking productivity...  I have noticed that my Mac G4 takes much longer to boot than even my G3.  My PC at work is by no means up to date but it does boot faster than my Mac.  Then again, it doesn't have a true sleep mode.  My Mac works harder than my PC and except for rendering video, or working with large photos, I rarely wait for anything other than the internet. Good job.


PreacherE 9 years ago

So many opinions, so little inderstanding. The article is about bloat. not OS or hardware preference. Not new vs. old technology either. From the time we started using pictures of letters (GUI) instead of letters, (even when we weren't drawing), to now when all sorts of codecs, DLLs, drivers and other crap are resident just in case we need them, it has been about sloppy code.

Unfortunately, the huge spaces available to write code into makes elegant design a thing of the past. Anyone who doesn't understand what the "Apollo" space programmers went through need not embarass yourself with a reply. Anyone who has not entered a diagnostic program into a machine via toggle switches is probably on a different cognitive plane entirely.

There is general agreement among engineers in every discipline that the simplest solution is better, and more adapable than those "rube golberg" contraptions that are so mission specific that they cannot justify their own complexity. In computing, hardware advances prop up sloppy software, like a submachinegun compensates for skill in aiming. Where have all of our software snipers gone? The one-shot, one-kill writers who knew the respected the value (no pun intended) of every memory location seem no wher to be found.

The author was right on target with his premise, and his proof. As a solution, Linux offers the best hope but is difficult to configure for the average user, sometimes buggy, and often in imitation of more popular OSes becomes just as bloated. Will the next Torvalds please stand up?

My 2 cents.

Preacher E


PreacherE 9 years ago

Before the vultures alight... space/speed = same crutch

In the post I just sent, I didn't mention speed separately, but speed just adds up to space. Think about that little transparent sheet that you wrote on as a kid pressing down with a stylus... You got more space by lifting up the sheet to erase. The quicker you did that, the more (effective) space you got.


Jerry W. Kelley 9 years ago

The only word program I use is Wordpad, I have no need for anything more.

If you compare the twenty year old Mac runnig Photoshop v1 with the new AMD with Photoshop v10, which I use all day long, you will see a very big diference! Everyday I work with images in layers that sometimes are 2GB and usually 200 to 400MBs. I don't think that Mac Plus could handle that! In fact, the Power Mac I used at a newspaper in 2000 constantly locked up and crashed if I worked on images more than one 25MB image at a time using Photoshop v5.

I can now produce work that would be unthinkable only a few years ago.

Jerry


The Blackhat 9 years ago

like firefox... "the photoshop of the browsers" i heard that ff can eat up to 2 gig ram... mine has around 300mb at the moment. thats crazy.

im that close to install windows 98 "lite" (you know that little cheap application that takes all the shit out of win98) and opera.


DOS386 9 years ago

COOL. I'm still refusing Windaube XP ... and Vi$ta even more. And I'm NOT surprized by this comparison :-D


Pete 9 years ago

lets see what happens when u use a current mac vs. a old mac


xianthax 9 years ago

not sure if this has been mentioned, i can't be arsed to check....

the AMD proc most definately does NOT do more per Mhz than the 68k series unless comparing floating point ops, which you didn't really do. In fact the AMD part has a very deep pipeline which helps to produce higher clock speeds (tho not as deep as a similar gen intel proc, then again the intel unit has an integer unit running at 2x clock, but the pipeline does kill missed branch prodictions amoung other things). I do not know the stats of the mac plus version of the 68k are but the 68k's that i played with were 2 stage units (i.e. it takes 2 clock cycles to execute 1 instruction). The AMD unit takes 20ish clocks to execute an instruction depending on the exact stepping.The AMD part does have more execusion units. But on average manages around 2.5 instructions on the fly depending on the code being run...

in short comparing clock speed is completely unrealistic in the best terms....

however i do agree that windows in bloated..but you make no mention of REAL multitasking, if you had put any knowledge into this you would realize that mac OS 6 did not implement premptive multitasking and performs terribly when running multiple apps....assuming that OS even manages to avoid extension conflicts long enough to run 2 apps.

-xian


zeroes 9 years ago

wow, lotsa comments on this one!

well assuming that a person only cares about efficiency... the amd64 pc will win hands down, all you have to do is either spend a few days boosting (slimming) the OS down to what you will use, or just boot a linux distro and have the fun time of building it how you want.

and if you know how to read, which apparently 64% of the american population can't do (counting newborn babies which account for 23%, of course), then you could follow one of the MANY tutorials found on the net.


David 9 years ago

In regards to startup times - I remember a quote from Jef Raskin that he made when Mac OS X came out (and I think he said it also in his book "The Humane Interface"): "There is *no* reason a modern machine should not be able to boot up in 7 seconds."

That has always stuck with me - and Mac OS X, System 6 et al, Windows, UNIX, and Linux - none have passed that test, not to mention the machines themselves.


Robert McLendon 9 years ago

Doesn't anyone here actually USE their computer? I suppose if all you ever want to do is run Word and Excel, a Mac Plus is perfect for you. You might even be fine with an Apple IIE. But try editing a film or using photoshop (the two things I do every day on my iMac) on a Mac Plus. You can't do it.

Do you seriously consider multimedia capabilities "bloat"?

To me, this article seems like a sort of technological nostalgia, the assertion that old tech is always better tech. People have been making similar arguments since before the horse-drawn buggy. I know, as you get older the past starts to seem like a Golden Age, but it wasn't.

And in response to the person who bitches about how people don't know what it means to program efficiently... I have training as a computer engineer. I just wrote an embedded system to run a theater show in less than 16K of code space...in Basic. I had to be very clever to fit it all in. That type of coding is necessary for embedded apps, but a desktop computer is a very different type of beast!

Again, try editing a film on an Altair with its row of fucking input switches. It cannot be done. The level of abstraction provided by modern OSes makes the computer able to simulate other real-world functions. It has become a system for modelling other systems.


Ken Thomas 9 years ago

Several years ago-- on September 11th, in fact-- my 1.1G Sony PIII was stolen from my van in Berkeley.

Roger Gregory loaned me a PI IBM ThinkPad from 1996, complete Win 3.something and 1996 versions of Word, Navigator, Excel and so forth.

Guess what? The '96 ThinkPad was much, much snappier than my "new" Sony.

The lesson was not lost to me: put five-year-old apps on the AMD above and you will find that it certainly outperforms the Mac Plus.

Every server I admin is based on this simple principle, "avoid bloat(ware)," never uprade until necessary, make apps zip when you can.


Stephen Sobchuk 9 years ago

It's funny. When I need to type out something really quick, I'll fire up the 386 notbook. It was upgraded in 1991 to 24Mhz. Quoted as being the fastest processer around...as fast as the human brain and nothing will get faster than that. My how times have changed. Compare that to my desktop replacement notbook, and yes, my HP Zd8080us will connect to a tv, record tv, play games, connect wirelesssly and do a million other cool things. But the 386 boots up scarey fast. I think around 10 seconds or less and I'm in Windows 3.11 clicking away. Battery life is much better, at least double. Screen size is halfed almost, along with no colour. No sound, no frills, no gimmicks. I can connect a monitor and get 16 bit colour to play Wolfenstien 3D or BlakeStone II with midi sound. It's been dropepd down the stairs (seen the battery and floppy drive eject), operae in hot, dusty and poor conditions. It keeps working though. I still haev our old Coleco and Oddessy II Microprocessr machines, but the Impulse 386SX notebook is what the salesman said. Nothing will get faster than this. Not for the basics anyways. Maybe more complex and advanced (which can lead to frustration and stress), but for playing solitaire, hearts and using notepad, I'll take the 386 every time.


mike 9 years ago

although the mac performed better in some tests, if you ran many of the same task on the pc, it would outperform the mac. this shows how modern computers are much more scalable.

modern oses have much more code because of the additional functionality they perform, it isn't all just bloat. (although much of it does exist) but it isn't necissarily from the os. much is from the programs written for it. programs use more and more libraries which using other libraries, etc. processors continue to have enhanced security features which oses use for stability which also takes up more hd space.

the following languages have not contributed to speedy software either: c++/java/c#/vb/j++/whatever else microsoft has

the pro to all this extra code is much quicker production of applications. (time to market, bla bla bla)

if you can take the time to optimize your c code it can make all the difference inside loops

ps: i hate how pc's are always associated with windows, i mean the names are basically used interchangably. that's the reason why i hate those mac v. pc commercials


Jules 9 years ago

Mike is right: Windows is not PC, and we sure can put another OS on it that works better.

Furthermore, I can't believe we can compare a high-tech AMD Athlon with a Mac Plus. Last time I used one was to make a drum beat (which was veeery simple). On my AMD Athlon 1700+, which isn't recent at all, it's like 5 years old), I listen to 192 kbs mp3 music. Would a Mac Plus do the job? I doubt it.

I also heard that Office 2007 stuff isn't compatible with older Office softwares. This is wrong. Yes, some functionnalities won't work, like some 2007 Power Point animations, but overall, it works on 2000s.

Now, what about USB ports, CD-R and RW burning, etc. Floppies on Mac would carry mayber 10, 15 hi res. picture? USB keys can now carry 40 go...

Can a Mac Plus run AutoCAD 2007? SolidWorks 2006? Catia? The first would maybe open, the second would burn it to ashes and the third would simply blow it up. I'm not even sure if 1998 Starcraft or Age of Empires 2 would run on it.

Finally, please, don't buy Vista until it REALLY works properly, except if you want to patent everything yourself. Vista isn't even compatible with XP stuff (maybe it has recently changed, but still). One of my mech. tech. student collegue wasn't even able to make AutoCAD 2007 run on Vista!

So, in my light, leave Mac Plus rest in Peace, and enjoy actual technologies, even 5 years old stuff like my cumputer can surprise you.


Jyle Dupuis profile image

Jyle Dupuis 9 years ago from Henrico, Virginia

Great research! I'm going to have to rethink Dell.


mj 9 years ago

So I get (and agree) with the basic premise - it is great food for thought. I remember using WordStar on my old first gen IBM PC. As you suggest, computers don't really seem faster for basic tasks.

However I point out the following (regarding productivity). As I type (whether it be with Firefox or Office 2007), the programs now do spell checking (and more) on the fly, and in some cases with auto-correction. I remember the old days where spell check would take minutes on a large document (and was a function that you manually kicked off ... and as another poster suggested.. you went and got a drink ;-). The creation of documents, presentations, and spreadsheets is much faster today. Gosh - what about LaTeX? (is that wysiwyg today?) A type setting language that required a "compiler" - and the hours I'd spend trying to get the text to flow nicely from page to page.

Granted I'm still not getting rid of my 800Mhz XP computer anytime soon - it serves my needs.

oh yeah, I challenge you to write better assembly code than today's compilers can generate (esp w/ strength reduction). Once RISC, pipelines, and shadow registers came out... I gave up ;-)

Fun article. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

-Mike


Nick 9 years ago

"You have to reboot to clear all the "junk" out and start fresh. Again, this is 1970s thinking in the 21st century. There has to be a better way than that!"

I know this is from very far back. But I just wanted to say that we haved moved forward in computing and largely thanks to generally nice people making simple, low level tools, for free. One of these is MaxMem, which will free system resources that are not in use, and are generally leftovers from programs like CS3, AutoCad, etc. It is a simple one click interface that sits in your taskbar on modern windows machines. Other modern marvels include BitTorrent, and VLC, and OmegaDrivers.net still pumps out amazing video drivers tweaks. There is still hope for computing yet.


elixir 9 years ago

Hey, hand the compters to REAL office goers today..., you will have the REAL results


Nicholaspaul 9 years ago

relax, oh ye nay sayers. The idea of the article was to have some fun, not point out the futility of new technology. Nobody in their right mind would purposefully use a ten year old computer INSTEAD of a new one. Everyone wants everything done NOW, if not before.

And the author DID mention that comparing OS6 with OS X would give the same results. It's funny how PC users (which is actually practically everyone...) are the first to get upset when someone mentions Macs and PCs in the same sentence.

Sigh!

Still, a very 'fun' article, insightful and food for thought. Nicely done!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

My goodness... The barrage of comments on this thread certainly have been enlightening! I doubt that there is one nook or cranny of the pro - con spectrum that hasn't been elaborated ad infinitum. I guess there is little left for me to add other than to thank all the contributors so far, all the way from the enthusiastic supporters to the ones who want to take Mafia contracts out on my head! :)


blah blah 9 years ago

what about computing before the 80's, I would love to see a study about that maybe using a DEC machine, or maybe a VAX machine, last year I installed windows 3.1 on a DEC and IT BOOTED (and I'm no m$ fan, quite the contrary), see what I hate about mac cult is that you just ignore everything that's existed before "home appliances" to justify the meaningfullness of being "cool", at the hype of, surfing the electric era or WTF you think of.

BSD boots, hey, an OS from _this_century, a MICROVAX

http://www.mcmanis.com/chuck/computers/vaxen/

can "home appliances" plug a disk into that, it thrills me, can MAC 86 beat a Microvax.??


Gideon Brett 9 years ago

XP beaten by a 21 year old piece of crap? that is just crazy but then again macs are better than windows. kudos to mac for being a great os! now lets kill xp so fast they can explode!


Dansgalaxy 9 years ago

I would point out here, that yea the ram hdd space and everything else has increased hugly since then but really, the hardware has grown with the software, and then the new software its programed to make use of the new tech!

And for nerds like me the extra functions are often used, and alot of stuff like that can be disabled to increase sys preformance,... then again you have to be a geek to know how..


ervinGPD profile image

ervinGPD 9 years ago

All that is just a prove that we as humans had fairly missed a point and 'healthy common sense' in using our resources and marking our development. Obviously, an artificial mind will correct huge lack of common sense in our intellectual work or the next big catastrophe will wipe out this 'rubbish producing' and 'energy wasting' civilisation, till next one will arrive. p.s. It was really so exciting making programmes in Assembler for M68000 or Z80. (Sinclair Spectrum, QL, Atari, Commodore 64,128 and Amiga), but VAX VMS operating system was the king!


J. P. Gilliver 9 years ago

Yes, I "got" the article - and agree: for a lot of the word-processing a lot of us do a lot of the time, there is little difference between a computer - with the recommended software at the time, by most dealers - then and now. (I do agree with the person who mentioned on-the-fly typing-checking though.)

If you leave off the GUI aspect, then earlier machines were even faster, because they booted from ROM (though they lost when it came to saving, as they went to floppy). My machine of choice was a BBC Master; it might under slightly different circumstances have been one of the (floppy) disc-based Amstrads.

<> I think the worst aspect of modern software - OS and applications - is the lack of optionality; I think if it were possible to turn off the facilities one did not want - or, ideally, just turn them on when you wanted them - modern OSs/software would be much faster, and I do mean the main one, i. e. Windows; I know (well, suspect) that the *x and others are indeed configurable in that way, but I'm talking about what the general person buys and uses.

<> (Finally, although the article was most definitely NOT a Mac-vs-PC one, I must take - light-heartedly - issue with one person who said the Mac still rules in the world of freeware: I can't actually speak for the Mac not being a user, but there's still plenty out there for the PC. And it can be small - the latest IrfanView main core, from http://irfanview.tuwien.ac.at/iview400_setup.exe, is still 1.1M, i. e. would fit on a floppy! [Even a 5.25" one! {I keep such adrive in my system, for archaeological purposes.}] And there are plenty of others, though not so many on the small side - I still haven't seen anything to beat the 453 bytes of flame.com for some while.)


red23 profile image

red23 9 years ago

You receive a DIGG, my friend. You are my hero!! Death to indows!!!


prathi profile image

prathi 9 years ago

yes I do enjoy these sort of articles, as they remind us of the essential nature of the user experience and computers. More Gee-Whiz is fine, but productivity definitely takes a hit. I'm a total Apple activist, but even I would be interested in seeing this comparison run again with a new Mac Pro / iMac / MacMini just for the heck of it.


prathi profile image

prathi 9 years ago

yes I do enjoy these sort of articles, as they remind us of the essential nature of the user experience and computers. More Gee-Whiz is fine, but productivity definitely takes a hit. I'm a total Apple activist, but even I would be interested in seeing this comparison run again with a new Mac Pro / iMac / MacMini just for the heck of it.


thebinaryman 9 years ago

its all due to damn microsoft. horrible software. running linux that amd would be much faster. if you were running os 6 in a virtual machine on the amd, it would boot in less than two seconds. i've done it. microsoft is to blame for the amd's slow response in these tests.


munroenet profile image

munroenet 9 years ago from Paso Robles

This was very interesting, Good presentation!!! Great work. Wish it was my hub! But the main problem is microsoft makes there OS for robots the space shuttle, lunar landers, servers, satelites and so much more that they have to have all these services that main PC users don't need. That is the problem. Well great job on the hub

Munroenet


munroenet profile image

munroenet 9 years ago from Paso Robles

Check out this hub:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Why-Microsoft-PCs-Run-So-S...

This gives you the reason why Microsoft OC run so slow.


memoryman1 9 years ago

Untill this last year I did not like macs. I still use a PC most of the time but I like the Macs design and how simple everything is to use. That and they are not bloated with trial ware when you purchase one.


Misha profile image

Misha 9 years ago from DC Area

This is sooo wrong... and so funny at the same time... Thanks, Hal!


Education Articles 9 years ago

What a fantastic test,... is this for real? I have both a PC and iMac and do feel the Mac is faster at most things, (in particular graphical stuff, but that's well known), but if that's what XP & Vista are doing to the processor speed, what's the point?

Great test, thanks for sharing. - Paul


Michael 9 years ago

Some of us who know computer hardware have always hoped that the software writers would not slow the computer down. To many features get in the way. The lack of skill in actual programming requires more memory and faster processors.


Dansgalaxy 9 years ago

I think if microsft did its OS free it would be fine but its because they feel they have to protect it theres alot of that clogging it up.

and its just because they have to go with the majority and unfortunatly the majority is half brain twits who dont have a clue so the system has to come preconfigured and "ready to go"

personally i would be quite happy to get 2 hours of endless option screens on first install and just do it that way but because most users would hate that they cant


MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

I will be buying new Desktop in the near future.

Maybe I should look into the Mac. I have resisted up to now, as I new some of the original people with Apple and i was not impressed. You have changed my mind considerably.

I do agree with the truck and car analogy.

Thank you


Analyst 9 years ago

should i throw away my AMD pc and buy MAC Plus? I don't know now....HaHa.. Make sure no AMD workers reading your article


BRmusicLuver 9 years ago

Well I read most of the post and if you think an old computer will beat a new one you are definitely mistaken. I have been building and repairing computers for seven years and started out with a 633 mhz celeron and now have a 3.2 Pentium with 512 x2 ram(2 512 ram cards) and now ready to go up to a dual or better a quad core for production.For a PC, what I have now is outstanding for more than avarage use. With the advancement of web graphics if you have less that a 1000 mhz pc with less than 512 mb ram you will probobly get very frustrated if you like the graphical websites with all the videos, moving pictures ie flash presentations ect. I agree if you run BASIC office apps and view basic web pages an old PC is fine except the life expentance but cheap to repair though. So in a nut shell its about what you need to do with it. As far as the Mac PC battle I came here to find out what would be a better route for a computer to do media as well as other basic and advanced applications and would not have compatibility issues.

My question is:

What would be better. An custom built PC with Athlon quad core or I Mac for media as well as other basic and advanced applications and would not have compatibility issues?


Stefan Olsson 8 years ago

Hi

I like this test becosue the everyday work is not that depened on the process power, more of the size of the screen etc. and the test remind us of that.

However, try to compare the experience between a 3D game on the two platforms, then it will be dramatic difference (I hope so, otherwise no new computer for me ).

Regards


danbrew 8 years ago

Interesting (and fun) article, yet a huge premise is that "the most common tasks" won't evolve over time. If new ideas (and advancements in hardware/software) aren't adopted and help people to do things better, faster, smarter, etc., then why are we using computers? Couldn't a typewriter do the same thing as Word circa 1984? Pretty much.


Myron 8 years ago

There was a lot of debate in days gone by of GUI vs TUI. I worked on a mainframe and some of the simple text-based apps were quite fast especially compared to GUIs but so much less usable because screen real estate was at a premium.

The one thing this proves is that word processors, spreadsheets, etc. back in the days of that '86 Mac were simple applications that did their core functions very well. Modern word processors are bloated POS' that barely do basic word processing well and have hundreds of functions most people will never use. The standard in the PC industry is you do not sell patches, you sell new functionality. To sell word processors you have to add new functions that one percent of the people will use or redesign it so that nobody can figure out what happened to the commands they used to use.

Computers back then were also simple machines. You bought a machine built from the ground up using standard parts and got an actual copy of the OS to install. Now you buy a machine with vendor-specific parts and get a recovery partition from which you can burn one or more recovery CDs or DVDs if you wish. That "basic OS" on your brand new Windows machine has a lot of trial versions of programs you don't want, trial versions of anti-virus software that slow your machine down to a crawl, programs running in memory to update the OS and those other programs you don't want, adware, etc. that are almost impossible to install, web browsers with toolbars from Yahoo, Google, etc. and hundreds of useless bookmarks. Its no wonder they are so slow out of the box!

Thankfully Linux is still at the basic OS stage. No adware, no bloatware, no antivirus machines. It is fast because it is just a basic fully functional OS and I get to choose what I want to run on it not some vendor who is paid for those extra programs they preload.


RymdApan 8 years ago

Ha ha. nice. I remember the plus with sys 6. The one assigned to our room had no harddrive so network shares loaded at startup to access databases, saving space and software. Knowing computers from early 80s and on I say that the mac plus vs. modern PC is a good comparison. If we go PC at the same time the work paradigm is different. While the mac was fully windowed the PC wasn't so yet. There was something called MS word for the PC but it was not the same at all. (Lotus 123 was the standard PC spreadsheet and it did not use point and click) Macintosh (with MS apps mind you) set the standards then. Windows sets the standards now. And sadly, as pointed out, nothing much has happened to improve the user interface.


Anonymous 8 years ago

Great article. Programmers really need to start making more efficient operating systems and software. However, if people weren't convinced to keep thinking they need faster computers, they wouldn't keep buying them every few years, and Microsoft wouldn't make as much money on software bundled with new computers. It sure would be nice if they would do something about boot time as well; I have a laptop with Windows that takes over ten times as long to boot up than my old 286 with DeskMate.


peoplesearch 8 years ago

A 1000 times slower or not, I'll still take the Mac :)


Jake 8 years ago

I believe that most computer users need just the very basic software to get the job done... now the main reason people need upgrades is for compatibility. For instance, I've seen some companies have to upgrade their entire network's computers simply to run new versions of Office. If that weren't the case, a mac Plus would work for the average office or school... heck I wouldn't mind using one myself, but I'd load Linux on mine.


badback profile image

badback 8 years ago from United States

wow, what an eye opener!


background-check 8 years ago

Jake is on the money, most people never use all the capacity their existing systems have.


Dan 8 years ago

What an absurd, brilliant comparison! The absurdity is acknowledged all the way through your description of the test. And THAT'S the point! A comparison this absurd should not have yielded the real-life, user-experience results you found. I am only commenting because I am so impressed by the fact that you did this and provided such a vivid illustration of a point that many of us have suspected all along. A classic! Brilliant!


beta1070 profile image

beta1070 8 years ago from UK

Linux would make a difference but the fact that the world's most used OS is so bloated is losing every single country millions of man hours of productivity every year! And impeding our progress.


what the 8 years ago

yeah rock on - less is more for basic functionality!


Steve 8 years ago

What they do not tell you or take into consideration, is that the installation of Windows covers several hundred motherboards, 20 graphics cards and so on. Compatability comes with a price...speed. If you want to compare Apples to "Apples" you need to compare a properly embedded version of Windows that is dedicated to one set of hardware. It is easy to bash Microsoft when you don't have to compete on IBM clone hardware.


Jeruselem 8 years ago

The modern computer is very different beast to that Mac in it's time. The Mac did not have overhead of a modern OS. I mean, the Mac did not need to deal with firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and software we need these days. The demands on a modern computer have changed and if you placed the same modern demands on a 1986 Mac, it would not cope. Also, in the early days - the OS was coded specially for that machine type. These days, they don't do that due to the amound of different hardware around.


Dish Network Dude profile image

Dish Network Dude 8 years ago

What a fun test! I have an old Mac in the basement - I think I'll pull it out and take a tour down memory lane...

Thanks


jezzbb profile image

jezzbb 8 years ago from Philippines

Surprising results considering the newer technology.


JonnyBRock profile image

JonnyBRock 8 years ago from New York City

Great Hub. It reminds me of the old days as an 86 Mac was actually the first computer I ever played with as a kid.

I'm running VISTA now and it's amazing what a pain in the ass it is when considering how powerful my computer is. It should run better than it does, if you know what I mean... and clearly you do.


outdoorjunkie profile image

outdoorjunkie 8 years ago from California

The problem is how much more code is stuffed into the newer versions of Word, Excel, etc.


VinceSamios 8 years ago from Australia

This is a seriously excellent test! But to be honest I'm not surprised - the mac OS was so slim back then!


ProCW profile image

ProCW 8 years ago from South Carolina

It was very interesting to read about how they compare. Would love to see more odd comparisons!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

I'm working on some shootouts that will make this look like a Sunday School Picnic! Tune into this Haltime and Halchannel. Hal's back... and watch out! :)


guidebaba profile image

guidebaba 8 years ago from India

Excellent.


wgsu007 8 years ago

Mac FTW!

Oh by the way, when you search hubpages on Google this Hub is the second result right after the HubPage Homepage.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Hey wgsu007, I wasn't aware of that! Thanks!!! I could write a book about how to get to the top of Google, however, here is my top secret code and I'll let you have it for free: WRITE QUALITY CONTENT! :)


Niki_Buchen 8 years ago

Well I use apple since nearly 20 years and sometimes I have to use Windows (98/2000/xp) and can only say that both have its benefits. Nowadays I prefer the Apple more because it really works and the problem with virus nearly doesn´t exist. Comparing windows and Mac is like camparing Mercedes and BMW. Sometimes BMW is one step ahead and sometimes ... Greetings, Niki


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, Niki, but note that this comparison was showing that a computer over two decades old actually beat a brand new state of the art computer. That's the basic point of it. It was never intended to be a Mac vs. PC article.


funwithtrains profile image

funwithtrains 8 years ago from USA

This is a very cool hub -- thanks!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

You're welcome! :)


removda 8 years ago

"For the functions that people use most often, the 1986 vintage Mac Plus beats the 2007 AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+: 9 tests to 8! "

H-o-l-y SH*T!

"We also didn't want to overly embarrass the AMD by comparing the time it takes to install the OS vs. the old Mac. The Mac's average of about a minute is dwarfed by the approximately one hour install time of Windows XP Pro."

Oh, wow.

"...the "User Experience" has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don't even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages"

Someone should go to prison for this, LOL.

This is a very interesting hub.

And you are a geek, lol :)

Ah. One day I will change to the Mac. Great hub.


Bruce Elkin profile image

Bruce Elkin 8 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

I had an 86 "Fat Mac". loved it. Wish i had it now. Still a Mac user though. Thanks!


metalman123 8 years ago

Well I use apple since nearly 20 years and sometimes I have to use Windows (98/2000/xp) and can only say that both have its benefits. Nowadays I prefer the Apple more because it really works and the problem with virus nearly doesn´t exist. Comparing windows and Mac is like camparing Mercedes and BMW. Sometimes BMW is one step ahead and sometimes ... Greetings, Niki


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

removda, thanks for the kind words and the bestowing of geekery upon my humble shoulders! :)

Bruce Elkin: Ah, what you could do with 512K RAM that you can do just about as well with my current 4GB RAM...

metalman123: Keep in mind that we're comparing computers that are two decades apart.


Erick Smart 7 years ago

Great Hub, is very informative. It's good to know how advanced is the technology in these days, but like you saythe "User Experience" has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don't even know exist.We have on our computers a lot stuff that we don't use.

I'll be glad if you read my hubs, I hope you like.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi, Erick! Thanks for the comments! I'll check your Hubs out! :)


karelia profile image

karelia 7 years ago from California

Very informative comparison. Let's hear it for the classics. Nice hub.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! Much appreciated!


chessknught 7 years ago

I'm thinking about trading in my Core 2 DUO laptop in for a Commodore Pet...

Ted Neustaedter

http://slow-pc.com


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

That's great. You can follow my lead of trading in my Core i7 920 for a PCjr! :)


Avare profile image

Avare 7 years ago

Wow! What a great discussion! This war between Mac and PC will never ends I hope. And computers will progress faster.


satellite_dish profile image

satellite_dish 7 years ago

i just installed windows 7 and i've got to tell you: it took a little more than windows xp!

it took more than 3.0 Gb of my harddrive, but it looks like i have an increased download speed (by 50%)

this is my observation, until now.

joel ziare

http://www.centruldepresa.com


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

W7 does feature various implementations from the kernel level on up to maximize the speed of almost every function, well above the abysmal level of Vista. Even with SP1, it's pretty slow in disk copies. Before it was unusable.


ajparker profile image

ajparker 7 years ago from North Carolina

This is one of the things that has frustrated me about computing over the last 2-3 decades. I think part of it is that the big companies are caught in the cycle of trying to sell the new hardware, so the software they write is bigger, slower and NEEDS the new hardware.

There was an old saying that the new version of windows was designed to make your new computer just as slow as the old one ran the last release. I wish they could take some time to stop adding bells, whistles and shiny gizmos to take the time to optimize and lean down.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I'd love to be running my Core i7 on Windows 98 SE. It would SMOKE! But I doubt that even if it would boot I could do much with it. Dang. :(


tonyhubb profile image

tonyhubb 7 years ago

Thanks for comparison. Great article.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

My pleasure!


nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

We all need to spend 1 day with DOS 2.0. Then we'd appreciate what we have. Even a Commodore 64 would look good.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

The early DOS versions (actually all DOS versions) were the worst crimes against personal computers ever foisted! They retarded the adoption of personal computing by the masses by at least a decade. Who the heck could figure that out! And there was NO excuse as PARC was around in the Early 70s! Sheesh!


anderbee 7 years ago

this is an amazing hub, great job.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks!


Joel McDonald profile image

Joel McDonald 7 years ago from Denver, Colorado

You know what they say...

Once you go Mac, you never go back. Thanks for sharing your observations!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Amazing that a machine that is older than many computer users these days can still do everything that most people need to do every day!


debtspecialist 6 years ago

Certainly an informative article. Thanks for sharing!

Regards


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You're welcome!


Mike Rogers profile image

Mike Rogers 6 years ago

Fantastic hub! Takes me back to the "good old days" of computing when knowledge was hard to come by and completely "hands on" training was all there was.


AlanSwenson profile image

AlanSwenson 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This was the coolest idea for an article ever


RockFixer 6 years ago

Now enter the iPad.

Boot time 0 (as it is supposed to be running 24/7).

Time to get on the internet (or running any application) a MAXIMUM of 2-3 seconds.

THIS is why the iPad will be such a game changer. The first major change since the birth of the personal computer. Combine that with the fact, that now you won´t have to "speak computer" in order to use one.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Mike Rogers: Thanks! Ah, for the good old days! :)

AlanSwenson: Thanks! It's still my top drawing Hub of all time, well over quarter million pageviews and still going!

RockFixer: iPad is a profoundly flawed unit. I'm waiting for v2.0.


model4tees 6 years ago

Proves my suspicion that next time I need to go type a few pages of text I should just go and boot up the MacPlus (as I have little doubt that these numbers are also true for OpenOffice.org).

Data Recovery at http://www.easyrecovery.ie/


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

YAAAAAAAA Mac Plus RULES! (I say on my Core i7, 12 GB RAM, Velociraptor, RAID... heheheheh)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Wow, what a firestorm you created with this hub, Hal. Unbelievable.

I loved my very old, teeny Mac but use Windows today. Which do you use most often today, Hal - the Mac or the WIN PC?


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Ya it was pretty wild. It's still my top drawing Hub at well over a quarter million pageviews! :) I don't even have a Mac Plus anymore... sad to say... I loved the compact Macs... I did soooooooooo many great things on them... oh well... nostalgia... :(


Iberkenbosch profile image

Iberkenbosch 6 years ago from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Now advanced technology is using by all the hardware manufacturers,so here AMD is good in it,but still people love Apple's product.

I must suggest that what's good for now we must follow that.Thanks to you for researching a lot before publishing this article.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You're very welcome! :)


sysfix 6 years ago

The more technology evolves, the more is crammed into little devices. Simple fact is there is more to go wrong and a higher price to fix it. I'm not a fan of macs but am a fan of the way the mac software is free unlike windows PCs. There is obviously a lot of interest in articles like this.

http://www.sysfix.co.uk


secretscp profile image

secretscp 6 years ago

That's a pretty amazing comparison. That old Mac Plus is pretty fast! I have a new Mac and love it.


adorababy profile image

adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

Overall, the results of the 1.8Ghz SSD are as expected. The 1.8GHz processor gives a small boost in CPU performance. The SSD option, however, gives the most dramatic speed increases in non-sequential file reading since there is no physical drive head to move. As expected, the SSD is slightly slower at sequential file writing, but the low seek time makes up for this when performing non-sequential writes.


Lucidica 6 years ago

What you want to do is take the test to the next level and pit the PC against an BBC Micro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Micro !!

Not sure how you'd test Word though, or Excel, or maybe anything...

There must be a test waiting out there to be performed of the best computer ever made, though considering the die hard Amiga and Atari fans it may come to blood

http://www.lucidica.com


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

This hub drew 130K page views in one day? Kewl!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Yup, and I was up to my a$$ in alligators trying to fend off the comments that were coming in every minute! I needed a week in the intensive care ward after that! :)


hitendramandaliya profile image

hitendramandaliya 6 years ago

Thanks man, this was really amaizing.

http://www.bestptcsite.com


needpcrepair 6 years ago

And this is why I'M SURE anybody in their right mind would rather have the MacPlus, rather than the more modern machine. As I'm sure you do, right?

All tests done with no other tasks open?

Because, surely nobody would open a word document AT THE SAME TIME they're working on a spreadsheet, right? If you want get really crazy, maybe have your email open during all this... Yeah, I know. No point, because nobody ever does this, right?

http://www.needpcrepair.co.uk

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