On a lazy Friday my co-founder @vignesh_giri decided to challenge me to a race. No we don’t own sports cars. While not slogging over our startup – Phonon we take stress relieving breaks by playing Need for speed – Porsche unleashed. It is a relatively old game and I still have the CD. While rummaging through my old pile of junk to retrieve the CD, I stumbled upon some gems. They helped remind me of the drastic change in technology and product distribution strategy over the last 2 decades.
A Microsoft Home CD
MS used to sell these to encourage folks to learn about the ocean. This is just one product under the Microsoft Home family. This was before Google , wikipedia became popular. Heck this was even before the internet became popular (the year – 1993). They cost 100$ a pop
A floppy drive and some floppies
Oh the excitement of splitting a 5 MB file into several 1.44 MB disks only to later be told that there was a checksum error on disk 2. No one born after 2000 can relate to that pain. Even installation disks were distributed this way. – ‘Please insert disk 3 to continue installing blah’
A 512 MB hard disk (placed near a pencil for scale)
This thing weighs in at ~7 kilos. Who needs gym equipment when you have hard disks from the 1990s ? When I showed this to my 10 year old nephew, he said ‘Whats that ?’ . I told him it was a hard disk and it can hold 512 MB of memory. He refused to believe me.
I think I’ll ask Seagate to replace it someday. The seal is still unbroken so I guess that means its still covered under a warranty :p
A shareware CD
During the early days of the internet, download speeds sucked (33 kbps modem – You know, the ones that make a weird sound when they connect to the internet. Yes, no one from this generation will hear that either). CDs like these were a popular way to distribute a shareware version of your product. This one came with a car magazine and ‘Need for Speed’ was one of the bundled games. Wallpapers and screensavers were the rage back then.
What does this have to do with your grandchildren ?
Just like we are nostalgic about these devices / distribution methods, our grandchildren will experience something similar. Here are 5 thing I expect them to say.
Hey remember when you had to drive your own car ? (This will be a sad day)
Here’s a picture of my granddad working at his office. Oh that giant box near him ? That was called a PC.
This is an old TV my grandmother used to have. You actually had to wait for a program to air at a particular time to watch it ! How did people ever tolerate that ?
That’s a picture of my dog frisky. No he is not trying to eat paper. Folks used to predominantly read news from paper back in the day.
Email ? Whats that ?
I sincerely hope someone takes #5 by the horns and succeeds. It is a behemoth which if you solve successfully, can change the way tons of people communicate everyday. I think it is a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.