Who wants more Bits (binary digits)? I first started programming in September 1969 on an IBM 360 model 40 as a Freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Computer Science Department. The IBM 360/40 had a 16-bit data width, 32-bit general purpose registers, and 64-bit floating point registers. I also got permission to program (using Assembler and FOCAL) on the PDP-8 (12-bit single accumulator, up to 32k of 12-bit memory words) that was in the Journalism department. Later on, Professor Emile Attala acquired a Data General Nova 1200 minicomputer (16-bit width for registers, data, and instructions) for his Computer Assisted Instruction research.
My first personal computer was an Intel 8080 (8-bit microprocessor, 16-bit address bus, 8-bit data bus) based IMSAI kit computer (22-slot motherboard) purchased and put together in the Winter of 1974//1975. My second personal computer was the Apple II+ (MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor, 8-bit processor, 16-bit address bus) in 1979. I also added a Zilog Z-80 processor (8-bit processor, 16-bit address and data) board in one of the Apple II+ slots.
My next personal computers were the IBM PC and IBM PC/XT using the Intel 8088 microprocessor (8-bit data, 16-bit address) in 1981-85 while I was working for Softsel Computer Products Inc in Los Angeles. Philippe Kahn gave me copies of Turbo Pascal version 1, for Digital Research CPM/80 and IBM PC DOS 1.0, at Comdex Las Vegas in November 1983.
Fast forward to 1995. On Valentine’s day (February 14), Borland announced Delphi at the Software Development Conference. Delphi version 1 ran on 16-bit Windows (version 3.1). Delphi version 2 ran on 32-bit Windows 95. Because of the success of 32-bit Windows, our industry has taken a long journey to the land of 64-bit computing. We are now showing a preview of the Delphi 64-bit compiler. The Delphi 64-bit compiler will arrive this year.
What’s next for desktop and server computing - 128 bits? My personal opinion is that for the next five years we will thrive on MultiCore processors and GPGPU computing. How many bits do you need for your programs and computations?