It has been more than 18 years since the first IBM PC was introduced. To put in perspective just how much performance has improved, consider a 200mhz Pentium based system. By current standards, 200mhz is very slow; you wouldn't bother wasting precious seconds even reading about the Pentium Pro, let alone going out to buy one. But the overall processing speed of this sluggish system that you are now imaging is approximately 1000 times faster than the original IBM PC (a 4.77MHz 8088). This original PC had two single sided floppy disk drives that could each store 160k, and used DOS v1.0.
However, since the early eighties, performance has grown by leaps and bounds, every year-the rule of thumb is that disk-storage capacity and processor speed at least double every two to three years. As a result, clock speed and disk space have rarely been the limiting factor on the performance of the PC. They get the most attention, sure, but the weak link that has slowed you down is most likely something else. Bus speed, RAM, software and especially bandwidth have been the true limiting factors on what your machine is capable of doing. How much fun could you really have at the end of a 2400Baud modem?
Bandwidth, my friends, will be explode in the early years of the next millenium, meaning that it will be disk space and processing speed that will limit what you can do, and see with your computer. Let me demonstrate this explosion visually.
Bandwidth is obviously on the verge of an explosion. Don't get your hopes up for an OC connection to your house; that is not the context these graphs should be taken in. The fastest Optical Carrier technology will be within the reach of ISPs and Telcos only, and will be used to lay down the backbone of the internet. Right now, most ISPs and phone companies are using a mix of OC-1 and OC-3 lines. They are all scrambling to deploy OC-192 networks, and as of July 1999, AT&T Canada has one operating. The OC-192 network AT&T has laid down is capable of delivering 320 GigaBps of broadband capacity.(according to their press release, dated July 13)
The future looks very bright, and very, very fast.