5 Things We Miss About Old-School Computing

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We zip along at gigahertz speed, not megahertz. We store gigabytes instead of kilobytes. Going strictly by the numbers, we're living in a computing paradise compared with 20 or 30 years ago, when the personal-computer revolution was just beginning. But there are a few things from the old days that we still cherish.

1. More RAM Than You Can Handle

One early quote often attributed to Bill Gates is that 640KB--that's right, kilobytes--should be enough for any computer user. (He vehemently denies saying it.) We joke about it today, but in 1981 that sentiment would have made sense.

The phenomenally popular Apple II and Commodore 64 computers had 48KB and 64KB of system memory, respectively, and the IBM PC's basic configuration had a measly 16KB. Few people complained. For personal computing's first decade, none but the seriously hard-core had to push their system beyond the seemingly limitless 640KB. These days, even 2GB isn't enough to prevent Windows from dipping into the virtual-memory well.

2. Easy, Registry-Free Tweaks

Hey, want to tweak your WordPerfect settings? Fire up your favorite text editor and edit the WP.INI file to your heart's content.

Prior to Windows 95's introduction of the Registry, editing .INI files was the way to customize your experience on a PC. Sure, some of the parameters seemed arcane, but dealing with them was better than deciphering the enigmatic HKEY_local_machine parameters infesting Windows machines over the last 12 years.

The .INI files were also easy to back up, restore, or swap, and messing one up wouldn't take down your entire system. And honestly, did you ever hear of an .INI cleaner? I rest my case.

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