How much memory you actually need in a computer depends on what you want to do. If all you want to do is boot up your computer, you need amazingly little memory. The very first IBM personal computer could boot up with 16 kilobytes of memory—that's about 1/100th of what your computer uses for a typical full-screen display on your monitor. Loading an operating system and the programs you want to run takes more. With the latest of Microsoft's Windows operating systems, you need about 4000 times more.


The big numbers reflect big changes in computer software. Most people would never want to tangle with the black screen with a few characters in green pasted on it that the first computers beckoned with. Adding the friendly and ...

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