My first job ever was at Best Buy. I applied when I was 14 and was turned down for being too young. I reapplied at 15, was almost hired, and then got turned down when they asked to see my non-existent driver’s license. I reapplied on my 16th birthday and was finally hired. Nerd alert.
In the two years between when I first applied and the day I actually got hired, the amount of tiny transistors that could be stuffed onto a processor had roughly doubled, according to Moore’s law. Again, nerd alert.
Making $5.18 an hour selling computers when the rest of your friends are making $4.25 an hour wherever people who don’t sell computers work was enough to make me believe I’d be comfortable working at Best Buy for the rest of my life. And by my calculations, if I’d stayed in the computer department at Best Buy Store #005 until the present day AND the wages of computer salespeople grew commensurate with Moore’s law, I’d now be making $1326.08 per hour. But math was never my strong suit, so I could be way off and Moore’s law doesn’t apply to money, so that’s that.
When you sold a computer to someone in 1995, it was important to know the ins and outs of the new, first-generation Pentium processors on the market because people used to ask about processors back then. It was one of the most important—if not the most important—selling points. AMD’s K5 processor that came out the following year added yet another level of complexity to a life already complicated by high school, (lack of) girls, and trying to find braided belts that went well with corduroys and Birkenstocks.
Fast forward to today and the processor, though still very important to the overall functioning of any computing device, is rarely the first thing on the minds of most regular consumers shopping for technology and probably the last thing on anyone at Best Buy’s mind (burn!).
Most people want tablets, thin and light laptops with long battery life, and smartphones with cool apps. The processors inside those devices don’t really matter to the general public as long as everything just works.