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[OT] Remember when hard disk sizes were in MiB?

I was digging through some old papers and found this from nearly a
decade ago:

(Dec. 21)
 I'm getting tired of lazy, slovenly, good-for-nothing programmers
wasting my hard-earned hard disk space with their frivolous code.
 My first PC hard disk had a 10MB capacity. These days, I can think of
individual applications that consume more space.
 It has to stop. Stop the insanity! It's getting to the point where I'm
being forced to swap hard disks as often as I change my socks -- about
once a year. Programmers and their corporate sponsors have to be taught
to become thrifty with *our* hard disk space by writing compact
 Here's my plan. For every megabyte of hard disk space a software
product consumes, the publisher must rebate the customer $10. So if a
program takes up 1MB we get $10 back. For 2MB we get $20 back and so on
and so on. Buy Windows and you could get enough back for the down
payment on a small ranch home in Levittown.
 Let me tell you friends, with such a plan in force we'll see smaller
and more efficient programs hit the market in a hurry. It'll be like the
good old days when programs came on single floppy disks or, better yet,
audio cassettes.
 What I'm a little hazy on at the moment is how to enforce this policy.
Maybe I'll send a few of my Brooklyn buddies to the executive suites of
some major software publishers with a subtle message, like a fish
wrapped in a newspaper, or a horse's head or a photograph of Pat
 And how will you spend your rebate? Oh, have fun! Paint the town red,
courtesy of...
 --John Edwards

Mark again --

The first hard drive I worked with on a desktop was 5 MiB, connected to
a VAX 11/750 with a 100 MiB hard drive in the system room, back when
they were the size of dishwashers. Then I lucked out and got a machine
with 20 MiB on the desktop (powered by a PDP/11 processor.) 16 people
worked on that VAX, developing compilers (4) and interpreters (5) for a
number of different platforms (5), with multiple versions of the source
code on the system in the days before RCS and CVS. I worked at squeezing
the Pascal compiler onto one 180 KiB floppy (that's how big they were
back then, before the second side of the disk also became available.

I also remember that to do pretty well anything, you needed to program
it - User Friendly meant that error messages were included, rather than
just going off wildly and trashing the entire system ;) There is
justification for larger code than we used to use because programs are
doing vastly more than I did in the early 1980s when writing
interpreters and compilers at Watcom. Graphics were only just being
introduced to computers, and code was 8 or 16 bit on most platforms
(except for the 32-bit VAX and the 36-bit IBM) and back then, we could
save all sorts of memory by only saving the last two digits of the year

I look on program bloat as something comparable to governments and
taxes: the more services you want provided, the more taxes or disk space
(depending on the metaphor) are needed to do it. That said, those $600
hammers, $1000 pens and $1600 toilet seats probably could be optimised
out of some code (closest parallel to the toilet seat is the Microsoft
paper sodding clip.) Because we want our software to do so much, we must
commit the resources to do that task, on the trust that programmers are
going to respect the finite resources (the same way we want our
governments to respect our finite wallets.)
ML Kahnt New Markets Consulting
Tel: (613) 531-8684 / (613) 539-0935
Email: kahnt@hosehead.dyndns.org

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