Flight Simulator: The Difference 25 Years Makes

Ever since I first booted up subLOGIC’s Flight Simulator II on my Apple //c back in 1984, I’ve been a flight simulation fan. No mission or point other than to just fly.

Of course, it was a somewhat crude affair back then. Flight Simulator II came on a 140K floppy disk and ran in 64K on the Apple II’s 8-bit 1.02MHz 65C02 processor. With 6 on-screen colors in high-res mode. It wasn’t what you’d call “photorealistic,” but it was fun.

I recently reviewed X-Plane 9 for the iPhone, and this made me realize it had been a while since I spent any real time with a desktop flight simulator. So I went out and picked up Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X for my relatively meager (by current standards) XP box: a Shuttle XPC with a 3.2GHz P4, GeForce 6600 GT, and 1GB of RAM. It comes on two double-layer DVDs and is a 14GB install–the complete app is about 105,000 times larger than the Apple II version.

Flight Simulator X runs very smoothly on the box.

Flight Simulator X is an amazing application. I’ve had great fun flying about since picking it up and it occurred to me that the difference in realism and complexity between Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator II really illustrates just how far computing technology has come in the last 25 years.

I thought a little comparison video would convey what I’m speaking of to those who’ve never spent any time with Bruce Artwick’s 1983 classic.

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6 Responses to Flight Simulator: The Difference 25 Years Makes

  1. Daniel says:

    Yeah, I always loved Flight Simulator – it was one of my favorite games. I had it on my IBM PC, not on an Apple II, but it looked the same.

    What fun days those were.

  2. Benj Edwards says:

    Great comparison, Blake. What an absolutely mind-blowing improvement in real-time consumer computer graphics technology.

    You’ve also made me want to buy Flight Simulator X. :)

  3. Nahuel says:

    Hi Blake,

    I love your blog, but a slight constructive criticism: I wish you updated it more often!


  4. blakespot says:

    @Nahuel: I work a day job, run TouchArcade.com with Arnold Kim and run iPodHacks.com. I also have a 2yo daughter. This is my only “for fun” site — no profit. I do wish I could update it more, tho.

  5. Nahuel says:

    I understand of course, keep up the good work

  6. RichTex says:

    Is that Lake Powell you’re flying over in the modern simulator program?

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