a request for help

Robert Robbins rrobbins at GDB.ORG
Fri Dec 9 09:16:02 EST 1994

I post this query here in the hopes that some reader might be able to 
help me find some information.  

Thanks in advance for any help that can be offered...


I am trying to locate some historical data regarding comparative prices 
over time for a reasonably powerful standard machine configuration, say a 
10 MIPS computer with 128mB of memory and 10 gB of disk space.  (Of
course, what's "powerful" at one time is a palm top at some later time,
but that's the whole point...)

I would also be interested in data that track the relative cost performance 
over time for a particular line of machines (see example at the end of 
this message).

What I would like to be able to do is fill in the following table with real 
data instead of the made-up information it now contains.  If you might 
point me towards either a source for the data (or the data themselves), I 
would much appreciate it.  

If data are not available for the configuration that I have specified but 
might be available for some other configuration, I'd appreciate knowing 
that, too.

Anecdotal information (e.g., in 1981 we installed a Brand XXX machine with 
Y configuration and it cost $####), or data for single points in the table
are more than welcome.  Even if I can only get a few factoids and a general 
Gestalt feeling, that will be very helpful.

Even suggestions of, "have you thought af asking ______, or have you looked 
______?" would also be appreciated.

For the curious, what I am planning to do is compile these statistics
on computer prices, then compile equivalent statistics on lab tech
salaries and grad student and post doc stipends to support the case that:

   Computers are transforming biology and the relentless effects of
   Moore's Law are transforming the way computers are transforming 

with the basic idea being that a certain amount of computing power that 
once cost, say, the equivalent of a whole roomful of postdocs, grad 
students, and techs will soon cost less than a couple of months of one 
tech's time.

This will have a profound effect upon the usage of computing in biology
and will have an equally profound effect upon the generation of computer
readable biological data."

Thanks in advance for any help.


                                          128mB      10 gB 
 year  ------ 10 MIPS computer ------     memory      disk       TOTAL
       model                   price      price      price       PRICE
       ====================  =========  =========  =========  ==========
 1975  ACME SuperComputer   5,000,000  2,000,000  3,000,000  10,000,000
 2000  Dell WonderComp          5,000   standard      2,500       7,500


       model                   price          speed
       ===================   ========    ==============
 1980  8088 PC                $6,000          .33 MIPS
       (config description)

 1982  80286 PC                  ??           1.2 MIPS
       (config description)

 1985  80386 PC                  ??           5.0 MIPS
       (config description)

 1989  80486 PC                  ??          20.0 MIPS
       (config description)

 1993  Pentium (60)              ??         112.0 MIPS
       (config description)

I would be happy to receive similar product-line data for other vendors...


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