Infographic: It's the End of Computers as We Know It

We take them for granted now, but think back to the time before we had computers. Hell, just think back a decade to when you had to sit there for five minutes listening to various bleeps and bloops while your modem tried desperately to connect you to AOL. You were never quite sure when the clock started ticking down on your 100 hours of Internet for the month. Things have definitely changed. For the better, I'd argue.

Gordon Moore's 1965 law, which states that the processing power of computers will double about once every two years, has proven remarkably accurate for more than forty years now. But, if we keep moving at the same speed and with many of the same components, we're going to max out in only another twelve years or so. That's when experts predict microchips will reach their size limit. The electrons necessary to represent data won't be able to fit on our circuits anymore, they believe.

With that in mind, has created an infographic that serves as a new timeline of the computer's history. Bonus: Feel free to sing the large words that run the length of the image out loud to the tune of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)."

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • In 1958, Texas Instruments employee Jack Kilby built the world's first integrated circuit using just two transistors. All of the modern computers we use today are based on this fundamental design, which replaced clunky vacuum tubes.
  • That same year -- 1958 -- the cost of one transistor, a critical building block in computers, was about $5. In 2004, the price had dropped to 191 nanodollars, or 191 billionths of a dollar.
  • Moore, the co-founder of Intel, developed what would become known as Moore's Law in 1965. He predicted that the processing power of computers would double about every two years, a prediction that has been incredibly accurate.
  • The IBM 3380 hard drive was released in 1980. About the size of a refrigerator, the 3380 cost $100,000 and could store only 2 GB of data.
  • In 1993, Intel's first Pentium-branded chip was released. It could run at 60 Mhz and used 3.1 million transistors. Six years later Intel released the Pentium III, which ran at 600 Mhz and used 9.5 million transistors.
  • Experts predict that microchips will reach their size limit around 2023 when circuits become too small to contain the electrons necessary to represent data.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.