Memory expansions then and now

Thirty years ago, when I was about thirteen, I got a memory expansion for my VIC-20.  (I told the whole story a while ago).  Now, my eldest son Daniel is thirteen, and to congratulate him for an excellent set of end-of-year exam results, I bought him a memory expansion for his MP3 player.

Here they both are:

Memory expansions then and now

Mine is on the right; it provides 8 Kb.  Daniel’s is on the left: it provides 16 Gb.  So that’s two million times as much memory.

We’re living in the future.

22 responses to “Memory expansions then and now

  1. I enjoyed the link to your VIC-20 article (I missed it first time round). Bought back nostalgic memories for me :-)

  2. What’s that weird-looking kajigger the 8 KB memory is in? :)

  3. Oh, hell, yes.
    I had an Atari 400 w/16K of RAM as my first computer; I used to fantasize about saving up another 200 dollars for the expansion to 32K (what would I do with all that RAM?)

    During the early 90s, I did a lot of consulting that sometimes resulted in me getting what I considered (as a 20-something from a fairly lower class background) to be “a lot of money”. I once splurged a check representing many nights and weekends of off-the-books work on a 4 meg (five MEGABYTES! Wow!) memory expansion for my bleeding-edge Mac II, and marveled at how hard it was to fill it up. Even 4D only needed 1 meg to run smoothly! (Now, when I write reviews for PCWorld, the most trivial programs have “minimum RAM” requirements of 128 Meg or so…)

    In the later 1990s, I remember the astonishment of seeing a 1 gig drive sell for under $1,000.00.

    Two days ago, I saw a 1 *terabyte* drive for sale at Wal-Mart for $89.00.

    I once paid 1400.00 for a 70-meg hard drive; today, I spend more for a movie ticket than for a 1-gig USB key.

    Somehow, though, I still don’t have enough storage.

  4. I fondly remember getting the 16Kb expansion cartridge for my VIC-20 (; it was almost as vast memory space as 640Kb seemed a few years later.

  5. @Colin
    Looks like an audio cassette tape container.

  6. WyrdestGeek

    Ah, quit yer whinin’. 640K should be enough for anyone! (Even though my understanding is that Bill Gates *didn’t* ever actually say it, I feel it’s always worth saying it ironically when discussions of then and now come up.)

    I agree it’s the future now–but what I really wanna know is: where’s my dang jet pack? Where’s my flying car? I want Mr. Fusion and a phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  7. Pingback: The Rankly Palindromist » Blog Archive » 16Gb vs. 8Kb – Memory expansions then and now

  8. Aren’t you comparing RAM and flash memory, there?

  9. Aren’t you comparing RAM and flash memory, there?


    For the obvious reason that there was no flash memory in 1981.

  10. It’s funny that the addressing differed with the 16K extension in the VIC20. So, games intended for the original 3.5K didn’t work with the extension on.

    We ARE living in the future. People often forget that our *phones* are now able to translate voice from one language to another, that virtually anywhere in the world, I can use my ridiculously small phone to call virtually anyone on the planet. This is not the science fiction with flying Deloreans but it IS science fiction. Today.

  11. Mmmmm, RAM. My first micro had 32k RAM and I never managed to fill it up with my own programs (I had a version of Collosal Cave Adveure that managed to use all the memory, from Level 9 as far as I remeber). That Nascom 2 is in my shed awaiting restoration (tried powering it up about 5 years ago, nothing).

  12. Aren’t you comparing RAM and flash memory, there?


    For the obvious reason that there was no flash memory in 1981.

    You’re comparing RAM and flash memory; these are not the same.

    Comparing RAM with RAM brings you pretty close to your 2MM multiplier but no where near the same in size reduction. In fact, 240-pin RAM will not fit in a cassette case.

  13. The only thing more amazing than this progress is how easily we forget how amazing it is. A while ago I found a desktop computer someone threw away; it had a few 64 MB modules still in it. Such memory volumes were unimaginable back then – something belonging to a supercomputer from outer space or something. Not to mention access speed.

    Then again, if you stick that cassette-y bulk into a VIC, I bet it would still work. I don’t trust my USB flash to work tomorrow.

    P.S. What’s with that adorable little smiley at the bottom left of the page? :-)

  14. Mike: When I scroll to the very end of this page, there’s a 6-pixel-wide smiley near the bottom left corner. Very easy to miss.

  15. Oh! You’re right! Well, all the time I’ve spent looking at pages on this blog, and I never noticed.

  16. amazing…. vic 20 was my first computer… never got a hold of an expansion, though… in a couple of years I got an amiga 500. I think the latter is irreversibely broken, while the former still works (although I haven’t tried in years)…

  17. absolut amazing … as time goes by

  18. Pingback: Memorias de expansión con 30 años de diferencia

  19. That smiley face is planted there by the WPStats plugin.

  20. Doc Sheldon, I don’t have any plugins that I know about — I don’t even have my own installation of WordPress that I could install plugins for, I just use the free hosted version. And I use the exact same platform for my other blog, Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, which doesn’t have a similar smiley. So I think your explanation might not be right.

  21. Reminds me of my day with my old TI system and my original Tandy. The upgrades included 4K RAM model or optional tape unit! :-)

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