The Biggest Computer Parts

Whether it’s quantity or physical size, the really big computer components deserve recognition; they offer needed storage and stand against the trend of making computers smaller. Sure, a really little computer is nice, but a really, really big one is nicer. Here are the biggest items in each category.

Hard drive: Hitachi/Seagate 500GB
Perfect for a media center or DVR, a hard drive this big can hold over 500 hours of standard-quality TV, according to Seagate. These usually cost $289 or more, surprisingly affordable for their capacity.

Computer: MIT’s Whirlwind (1951)
Good luck finding desk space for this behemoth: all the Whirlwind’s equipment occupied four building floors. The processor used thousands of vaccuum tubes, and when the system was on “it was not safe to walk between [the tube racks] due to the heat they gave off,” according to Edward Cherlin, whose father worked on programming for the system.

Laptop: Eurocom Emperor
One of the first notebooks to boast a 19″ LCD screen. Samsung also makes a laptop that big, but it’s not available in the United States. Eurocom’s notebook weighs 14 pounds.

Monitor: Samsung 63 inch monitor
The biggest monitor I have is 17 inches. Most of us would be happy with a 19 inch screen. But if you’ve got got $7,000 to throw around, this five-foot monstrosity is for you. I can’t imagine why someone would use this as an actual monitor, though it could be fun to set it on 640×480 resolution and try using the on-screen magnifier.

Mouse: Whale Mouse
This unique mouse, big enough to accomodate an entire hand, is ergonomically designed with “fins” on the sides for the thumb and unused fingers and a “tail” for the base of the hand.

RAM: Kingston 2GB
Designed mainly for servers, Kingston’s 2 gigabyte RAM stick is beyond necessary for most home computers and probably wouldn’t fit, either; the 240-pin DDR2 memory form factor is used in newer, high-end desktops and servers but is uncommon elsewhere.

Network Cable: Thicknet
Thicknet, or thick Ethernet, is hard to find these days, replaced by faster (and thinner) twisted-pair Ethernet. At just under half an inch thick, technicians used to call the stiff cabling “frozen yellow garden hose.” Workstations that needed to access the network used a vampire tap to “bite” into the cable.

Bigger isn’t always better, but it is when it comes to computer parts. Until next column, I’ll be hoarding pennies for that 63 inch monitor.

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