Release Notes: So Long, and Thanks for All the Pie

norman

After 119 monthly issues and roughly nine and a half years (3,474 days, according to Wolfram Alpha), this is my last issue as Editor-in-Chief of Maximum PC. I’d like to pretend it’s been grueling work—from the crazy costumes to our intern-torturing escapades to the great smoke alarm incident of 2000—but, I can assure you, it’s been a blast.

Most importantly, I’ve enjoyed working for you guys over the last decade—a decade that’s been chock-full of amazing technological triumphs, as we accelerate ever faster toward the Singularity. To give a little perspective to that decade, here are the four achievements (presented in no particular order) that I think have made the biggest impact on the world, during the time I’ve been at Maximum PC.

The Internet Grows Up

When I started at Maximum PC, fast Internet access was 1.5Mb/s. I get that on my phone now. When I started, most people had heard of the Internet, but no one used it… and wireless service? Nonexistent. Now, my dad’s on Facebook and my mom is an eBay power user. This has, naturally, had some consequences.

Processors Get Incredibly Powerful

We’re all familiar with Moore’s Law, and the last 10 years have shown truly astounding improvements in computational power. When I started, CPUs could barely decode standard-definition MPEG-2 video. Today, we can encode multiple MPEG-4 streams on the fly—a feat that would have been magic in 2000.

Storage Gets Massive and Cheap

In 2000, state-of-the-art storage came in the form of the 75GB hard drive. Today, for about the same money as an IBM 75GXP, I can buy a 2,000GB hard drive. The advances we’ve seen in both storage capacity and speed have powered everything from YouTube to Gmail to Dropbox. SSDs are only going to push that further.

LCD Panels Got Cheap, Massive, and Plentiful

In 2000, a 19-inch CRT was a massive, extravagant monitor, and a flat panel was a tiny luxury. Today, LCD flat panels are ubiquitous and scale from the pocket-size displays found on phones to massive 70-inch monsters that power HDTVs.

Individually, these advances were exciting. Taken together, they’ve pushed multiple revolutions that affect all of us. I’m talking about the smartphone revolution, the rise of the social web, and the advent of Internet audio and video streaming. If you showed me Facebook, an iPhone, and YouTube in 2000, and then told me they all worked together using a speedy wireless Internet connection, I’d probably have had you committed. Yet here we are.

So it’s with eyes wide-open and an optimistic smile on my face that I look forward to the next decade, and I hope to hear from you there. As always, if you want to continue our conversation, you can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/willsmith, or in my weekly column at MaximumPC.com.

Before I sign off, I want to thank the entire Maximum PC team—Jon, Gordon, Katherine, Natalie, Nathan, Norm, Alex, Boni, Mary, and all the other folks who’ve worked here over the years—for making this the best, nuttiest, most awesome place I’ll ever work. Of course, thanks are also due to you, the loyal readers, for bringing Maximum PC into your homes each month. I’ve loved every minute of it.

Jon Phillips, editorial director, Maximum PC: The entire staff of Maximum PC would like to thank Will for all his hard work and dedication during his nine-plus years of service. We’ll miss his exceptional technology smarts, rants, raves, and constant references to pie. Stay tuned for Will’s regular column on MaximumPC.com, as well as many more surprises on the site in 2010.

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