Way back in the fall of 1996, when I was a student at Binghamton High School, I was tinkering with my PC, trying to get a game I enjoyed to run properly. The issue I was having was that my computer, with its woefully-low specs, couldn't quite handle the game. The operating system, Windows 95, was eating up just barely enough system resources that the game's performance suffered. That's when it dawned on my then-teenage brain... an idea that I thought then, as I do now, could revolutionize personal computers forever.
Of course, I did what anyone would do when they have a really unique and groundbreaking idea: I hoarded it away, telling only three people to date of my concept. While I'm capable of building a home PC, and while I was formerly a video game designer with a working knowledge of programming, I never had the technical prowess to make my idea a reality.
While thinking back on that concept today, I realize now that I'll never be able to do anything with it. There's no point in keeping it a secret if I'm never going to be able to actually produce a working prototype. So I figured I would share it here, on the Vine, because hey, why not? I know full-well that if someone reads this article and feels inspired, I'll probably never see a penny of the billions in profit they'd earn as a result. All I can really do is hope and pray they'd be cool enough to share a little of that wealth with me. If you're that person and you make this invention I conceptualized, please do share with me. I'm but a lowly political satirist. If you're wondering if I need or want the money, the answer is yes. Yes I do!
Anyway, enough rambling. On with the idea! I call it an "Operating System Processing Unit" (or "OSPU"). It's a small device capable of being mounted in a 3.5" internal drive in any modern ATX-style computer case. The device consists of a CPU, RAM, and a simple video card... basically a tiny computer all its own, using technology similar to what you might find in mobile devices. It also contains a hard drive, large enough to house the operating system, drivers, and other essential system files, with enough space left over for future service packs, patches, updates, etc. This device connects to the motherboard via a modern IDE equivalent, like an SATA cable, and is powered by a typical 4-pin connector, which most modern computers have a spare of. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?
What's the point, you ask? The operating system runs entirely within its own internal device, vastly freeing up your computer's system resources for the things you want your computer to do. Your processor, RAM, video card, and hard drive are for your own use only, without an OS limiting what your PC is capable of doing. Suddenly, your 1 TB hard drive isn't missing several gigs of space. Your session playing Star Wars: The Old Republic is far smoother, since your video card and RAM are only processing the game. The performance of your computer's components will improve considerably, because the OS is being powered by its own special standalone unit. And OS makers like Microsoft would love this as well. They could develop freely without worrying about their OS's taxation on a customer's PC.
Another cool feature is that this device wouldn't need gobs of horsepower to function. A video game console is cheaper than an equally-powered PC because it isn't expected to do all the things a PC is: It's focused on running games, and can be tailored to that end without worrying about being equally-versatile in other respects. So the focused processor, RAM, and video card won't need much to function, because all they're doing is running the OS and sending its related imagery through your video card to your monitor (I highlight "through" because your video card is merely passing along pre-processed visual data, so they can share the same connection to the monitor).
Like I said before, not many have heard this idea. Those who did hear it, love it, and I hope you're equally-intrigued by this proposition. Whether or not we'll ever see a device like this remains a mystery, and if we ever do, I'd be more stunned if someone actually contacted me hoping to give me money than if someone essentially stole the concept and ran with it, forgetting they read it here first. But I do think this device would fundamentally change how we look at computers, and would cause a radical shift in hardware and software development for decades to come. If this isn't the best idea I've ever had, I don't know what is!