The issue isn't power. The PDP-8 is not a powerful computer. It was what high schools bought to drop kids on.
The issue is memory management. The DAT box was a device that did memory mapping, so that the addresses the _application_ saw weren't necessarily the same as the hardware addresses.
You can, indeed, do real timesharing without memory management, but it's hard to do, and you invariably have applications stepping on one another when users write bad code (as high school users probably will). But TSS/8, the time sharing system for the PDP-8, did amazing things considering the hardware it had to work with was very stripped down.
No. The PDP-8 was a toy computer by the standards of the day. The point is that if such a toy can do real timesharing without memory management, it shows that memory management is not impossible to live without.
By the early seventies, I was seeing a couple hundred people logged onto a single machine running GECOS. Of course, at the time a lot of the actual front end processing of the timesharing system was being done by the terminal or channel controller.
I'd dispute that too. It's _different_ and not necessarily more sophisticated. In some ways, the loose coupling of the internet is a big step down from a centrally-administered system.
If you had told me in 1975 that everybody would have a computer on their own desks in 20 years, I might have believed it. But if you had told me that each one of them would have to do their own backups and constantly repatch their flaky operating system, I would have laughed at you.
That's all computers STILL do. It's just that today you are seeing a glossy front end on top of all that stuff. In some cases, the glossy front end is a great thing because it allows people to use computers without really understanding how they work. In other cases, it is a terrible thing because it means most people using computers have no understanding how they work.
I do not consider the development of glossy front ends and cheesy GUIs to necessarily be a technological advancement.
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."