Geek Trivia

What Effect Did The Turbo Button Have On Early Personal Computers?

Sped Up the Processor
Slowed the Processor
Doubled the System Memory
Dumped the Disk Cache
The Real World Hospital That Inspired Fictional Arkham Asylum Was Located In?

Answer: Slowed the Processor

For hundreds of thousands of young computer users, the “Turbo” button was like a mystical power booster that could solve most computer ailments. Except that, counter-intuitively, the Turbo button was never designed to speed anything up but to instead slow a computer down.

In the early days of computing, programmers relied heavily on the processor speed for timing. As a result thousands of applications, such as early PC games relied, on the processor speed to govern the timing of in-application events. If you played a game that was intended to be played on a 33MHz system on a 66MHz system, for example, the game would run twice as fast and be rendered unplayable. The Turbo button served as a hardwired compatibility tool, flipping the Turbo would slow down the processor and ensure that older software would run properly.

On modern computers this process is handled by the operating system or emulation software and the Turbo button has gone the way of the 5.25″ floppy drive.