This old thread speaks of taking a modern computer back to the 1980’s and wowing people with it.
Say you have a garden variety modern PC purchased this month. You also have a ChronoCo ChronoMatic Time Machine model XL 2012 that will be released later this year. How far back in time could you travel with your modern computer before it becomes obvious to people in those times that you are in possession of something, well, special? For the purpose of this thought experiment, you may remove or falsify serial numbers or manufacturing dates that have been printed or stamped on the device and any peripherals (e.g. change “Manufactured July 2012” to “Manufactured December 2004” or obliterate the statement), but you may not functionally alter the device such as swapping in an older screen or network card. You are allowed to install an older operating system as long as you could actually get that older OS to run on the box in real life, for example installing Windows XP. Same thing with old software. You may also alter files on the computer e.g. to change datestamps to any value you want to obscure the fact that there are files with “futuristic” datestamps. If you keep a recent OS or any recent applications, you may hack copyright dates so e.g. the latest copy of Microsoft Office shows a copyright date of 1990 if you want.
You may have a desktop or a laptop. Would the question be different with a laptop v. desktop? What about brands? Macs are distinctive, but what about a generic, blah looking Toshiba?
- How far would you have to go before you couldn’t fool a reasonable computer expert into thinking it was a current box? The expert is an expert but doesn’t have every released model memorized. Remember you are allowed to falsify markings.
- How far back would you have to go before an average person in the past would be able to tell the computer is futuristic by casual usage, e.g. if you lent your computer to someone riding a train in 2003?
- How far back would you have to go before an average person could tell you had something special just by looking at it? E.g. if they saw you using it on a train in 2003.
Don’t nitpick my conditions. You know what I’m asking about. Make appropriate assumptions and tweak what I have said to get the gist of my question.