5MB of storage once required 50 spinning platters and a dedicated computer, demanding a 16 square-foot area for its residence. The first hard drive wasn't particularly fast at 1200RPM and with seek latencies through the roof (imagine a header seeking between 50 platters) – but it was the most advanced storage of the time.
That device was the IBM 305 RAMAC, its converted cost was a $30,000 monthly lease, and single instruction execution required between 30ms and 50ms (IRW phases). The IBM 305 RAMAC did roughly 100,000 bits per second, or 0.0125MB/s. Today, the average 128GB microSD card costs ~$50 – one time – and executes read/write instructions at 671,000,000 bits per second, or 80MB/s. And this is one of our slowest forms of Flash storage. The microSD card is roughly the size of a fingernail (32x24x2.1mm), and filling a 16 square-foot area with them would yield terabytes upon terabytes of storage.
The 305 RAMAC was a creation of 1956. Following last week's GTC conference, we had the opportunity to see the RAMAC and other early computing creations at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The museum encompasses most of computing history, including the abacus, early Texas Instruments advanced calculators (like the TI-99), and previously housed a mechanical Babbage Machine computer from the 1800s. In our recent tour of the Computer History Museum, we focused on the predecessors to modern computing – the first hard drive, first supercomputers, first transistorized computers, mercury and core memory, and vacuum tube computing.
The term “MMORPG” did not always exist in the games industry; something had to catalyze the word's origin, and as legend tells it, that catalyst was the team behind Ultima Online. Renowned game designer Richard Garriott and his team at Origin Systems – the industry's most successful PC games company of its era – contributed substantially to the modern world of role-playing games. Had Garriott not instituted his vision of fantasy role-playing games in the form of Akalabeth and Ultima, there's no doubt that RPGs could have “grown up” vastly differently.
The indie side of the games industry is generally filled with a predictable gamut of stories: Failure, success, and horror of acquisitions that leave a once-rising company gutted. Once a game has been picked up by a larger publisher – whether or not that publisher makes good on changes and promises – it's rare that we ever hear of the developer being “indie” again. In the case of Desert Owl Games' Pox Nora, a title acquired by SOE in 2009, the game's creator was able to reacquire his title when it was under threat of being killed by SOE.
Pox Nora's story is an interesting one that grants insight to the industry's growth during an earlier time. The game shipped in 2006, but had been in development since roughly 2004, meaning it lived through the initial hesitance of digital distribution, the abuse of the free-to-play market, and the maturation of that market.
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