The Last Remnant of 1993

Computer Connection Mousemat

From the depths of history…

This is my mousemat. It’s about the same age as many of our students and it’s pretty much the only piece of computing technology from 1993 that’s still relevant today.

  • The 3.5 inch floppy was the standard way of supplying data and even software. Windows came on 6 to 8 of them depending on the edition.
  • Mice used to use a ball and rollers to track movement. They’re now optical.
  • Only cheap keyboards used membranes. Good ones were mechanical (switch) keyboards. These are now almost impossible to get hold of.
  • USB was unheard of. Peripherals either had to connect via an existing serial or parallel port or use their own interface card.
  • The Compact Disc was common, but the CD-ROM had not yet entered the world of computing (let alone DVD or recordable technology).
  • Monitors used Cathode Ray Tubes. This made anything bigger than 19″ heavy, awkward and expensive. If the office heating failed though they were good for that.
  • A myriad of interfaces have come and gone. ISA bus, VESA local bus, DIN style keyboard connections, PS/2, IDE, etc. etc.

There are a few things that haven’at changed that much.

  • Hard disks – the mechanical type – still use much the same physical technology. The data capacity now though is astounding. A “big” HDD in 1992 was 20Mb. It’s now 50,000 times that.
  • VGA was the latest and greatest in 1992. We still use it today, mainly for projectors although even this is fading in favour of DVI / HDMI.
  • Cases are still made of cheap steel and PSUs are still cheap switch-mode devices that fail every  more often than any other component.

Having said all this it’s not so long ago I lifted the lid on a piece of equipment that had just been decommissioned from a fire service. I recognised the CPU instantly, it was a Zilog Z80 in a DIL40 package, placing its vintage firmly in the 1980s and possibly as early as 1976.