Around 1984 there was an article with a prediction that went like this: "Someday you will throw away computers. Your house will be littered with them. You will get computers in cereal boxes." Thirty-five years ago, that day seemed like it would be pretty far off.
How exactly has this prediction faired? Well, how many computers do I own? Here is the list...
1. One of the more powerful computers in my home is my iPhone 6s+. It is a powerful computer masquerading as a phone.
2. I have an iPhone 6+ that mostly works, except for the wi-fi, which is why I don't use it anymore.
3. I have an iPhone 5 that is becoming obsolete, but it would still be functional. It only uses the AT&T type radio bands, which means that it could also work with some discount companies.
4. If I were to look really hard in my junk pile, I could find my old iPhone 3GS. It might still function as a phone, but nobody would want to use it.
5. I have an iPad 4. The only reason I bought it was because my iPad 2, which I loved, was stolen in Salt Lake City. However, I don't really have much of a need for it. The iPads were originally touted as book readers to compete with the Amazon Kindle tablets, but I don't think that reading books on a full-size iPad is a great experience. It can do all the normal internet stuff with them, but I have plenty of devices that can do that. I think that my iPad is best used to play audiobooks.
6. About eight years ago I bought a Microsoft Tablet on a Black Friday sale for $200 because this seemed like a fantastic deal at the time. At the time, it probably was. However, this has been the most useless piece of crap that I own. One could use it to browse the internet and read email, but it is way out of date, and it was never very useful to begin with. It is less pleasant to hold than an iPad. I doubt that I can get any software for it.
7. I'm typing this on my late-2009 27" iMac. However, this computer has a number of problems, such as the display repeatedly shutting off. The computer has 4 major parts that have been identified by a technician as showing signs that they may fail in the near future, which makes the machine too costly to consider fixing. Even just dealing with the display problem is not really worth it.
8. Which is why, today, I bought a 2017 iMac, which is a significant upgrade from my old iMac. It will take at least a day for me to get all my software installed and working on the new machine.
9. A couple of years ago I was given a Raspberry PI 3, which is a very cheap small computer the size of a deck of cards. It can run Linux and do normal computer stuff, although it is not very powerful at all. However, I configured it to be a game emulation box that can be hooked up to my TV.
A new Raspberry PI 4 has just been released, and it is more powerful.
10. I own both a NES Classic Edition and a SNES Classic Edition. I used to sell these for profit because they are often hard to find. I plan on selling at least one of these. Both are game emulation boxes, and I have hacked one of them to play more games. I plan on hacking the other one as well.
I am also considering also getting a Sony PlayStation Classic. It is a more powerful system that has been discounted down to $30 and can also be hacked.
11. I bought an Arcade1up machine. This is a 3/4 scale arcade game that you assemble yourself. It is essentially an emulation box, and it comes with 12 classic arcade games.
12. Back in the early 2000s, I bought a joystick that can be hooked up to an old style TV and it plays 10 classic games. As a game system it is not particularly great, but I still occasionally use it because it does a great job with one game, which is Pole Position. I don't have anything else that can play this game.
13. I have an old Sega Genesis with some cartridges that I plan on selling. Thirty years ago the 68000 processor in the Genesis was considered a mainstream computer processor. I have seen really old mainframe computers that cost a fortune that used this processor. By the 1990s the 68000 processor was only really used in game systems.
14. I have a really old laptop that someone gave me. It is very slow, but I was able to use it to run chess tournaments. However, it recently stopped booting. It appears that the hard drive is corrupted. I thought that maybe I could fix it, but...
15. I was able to get a refurbished laptop very cheap that is vastly superior. This computer proved very helpful as a backup computer while my iMac was in the shop.
So technically my house is littered with computers, some of which I could easily throw away.
If you own a calculator, which I don't, it has either a 4-bit or an 8-bit processor inside. It is also a computer, although very limited.
As far as getting computers in cereal boxes, I saw a little handheld game that came in a 2007 cereal box. It was pretty primitive, probably using a 4-bit processor.