During the two days it was at the shop I naturally did some shopping for a replacement should it have been necessary, and I was reminded of the constant growth of the capability of PCs, especially in hard drive capacity. Basic units have hard drives that dwarf the one in the ancient PC I'm using, which itself is only about at 1/3 capacity. I frankly don't know what I would do with so much memory, since I'm not a big game player and I don't store a lot of video.
I mentioned this to my professional IT brother and he said something that brought back memories. He noted that even basic software takes up a lot more memory that it used to, and that Windows 7 is noteworthy as a storage hog. I couldn't help but chuckle at this, since I'd been dealing with that since the dawn of PC time, when companies such as Osborne and Victor still roamed the landscape and Bill Gates was not yet sleeping in pajamas made of money.
There has always been the chicken-or-egg question: was hardware growth necessitated by software demands, or did software swell because the hardware allowed it? Looking back, I think it tended to be first the latter, then the former. Software developers used all the available abilities of the hardware, which induced manufacturers to build better equipment to allow better performance, which created room for software to grow, repeat to this day.
Of course, it wasn't and still isn't as sequential as that. Often someone in one camp jumps in front; HP has long been putting huge-for-the-time hard drives into their computers, and game companies often seemed to have products in their warehouses waiting for a computer that could handle them, although that has become less frequent as custom gaming machines have come back. (I wonder what the old Atari people think about the rise of Wii, Playstation, etc.? Having others stand on your shoulders is often uncomfortable.) I suppose it will eventually level off, but at what point is hard to say.