Jump to content
IGNORED

The shifting price of RAM


ZOK
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm just tucking into Neuromancer again as part of my regular Gibson homage (started with Count Zero this time for some odd reason), and of course early on as Case is making his desperate moves, we read that he has 'three megabytes of hot RAM in the Hitachi'.

Now, that amount is obviously of significant value to Case, which of course barely even has value for us today, but his story was written in 1984. And that really dates the book, which otherwise transcends time...it always feels modern.

Now, you might argue that it was the data on the RAM that was valuable, though that Linda steals it and attempts to sell it would suggest otherwise: 'She just wanted a ticket home, and the RAM in his Hitachi would buy it for her, if she could find the right fence.' Linda is no hustler really, she's just a kid, and certainly Gibson makes no mention of data. We've got to assume that 3MB is worth a lot of New Yen...indeed, Linda's buyers kill her for the RAM rather than pay for it.

I'm wondering if there are more examples of this shifting price of memory dating sci fi? Putting it into context, even seven or eight years after Neuromancer was written, people were breaking into offices here in the UK to steal the memory out of computers, as the chips were in short supply.

The only other example I know of is the excellent Spares by Michael Marshall Smith, where the protagonist is trying to sell 128MB of RAM at the start of the book, which apparently has a street value of $800...the book being written in 1996. Once again, a timeless sci fi yarn, hooked into the past with anachronistic pricing.

So, if you've come across the same thing in any stories, let me know!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sci-fi, but there's an episode of Friends where Chandler gets a new laptop...... 12 meg ram, 500 mb hd, built in spreadsheet capabilities and a modem that transmits at 28bps. Gonna use it for games and stuff, he says, but I doubt that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Complicity by Iain Banks

I'm sat in the flat in Cheyne Street, playing the game when I should be working on a story. The trouble is that the game and the machine go together so well; the HeadCrash team designed Despot so that it takes advantage of whatever configuration of system it's being played on, with the maximum on a PC being a 386SX running at 25Mhz with at least 2Mb of RAM and 8Mb of hard-disk space free plus an S3-based graphics card fitted. The game will run on anything down to an Atari 520ST and still work (but it won't look remotely as good, run so fast or have all the interactive features) and obviously it'll look just as good and do everything on a better-than-maximum machine, but it just so happens that the above spec is exactly what I've got on my machine.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's not really he sort of thing I mean in Complicity, as it's a story told in the contemporary present day, rather than a future vision that yanks you out of the story by presenting 2mb of ram as powerful. If you read it in another twenty years, there will no doubt be many things that will date it beyond that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not RAM specific, but Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood has some really jarring 'getting information on a CD-ROM' moments in what is otherwise a believable dystopian future novel.

There's also the way Atwood refers to 'DVD' constantly throughout the book, although that one's not quite as jarring as the very specific 'CD-ROM' since you can almost handwave DVD as just being common slang.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 2001 a Space Odyssey I had a little smile when the lead character got out his electronic newspaper and thought yes, that's a Kindle alright. However, I had to smirk a little when Arthur C Clarke decides that we'd need to book time on some central computer to do a search for info. Google was a step too far for that time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.