The amount of memory on each Voyager (68kB), as well as that on the Apollo 11 lunar and command modules (152kB) and the space shuttle (1MB) are dwarfed by that on the Curiosity’s on-board computer (256MB). But these are all blown out of the water by the memory such modern day devices as the iPhone 4S (512MB), the latest iPad (1GB) and the Samsung Galaxy S III (2GB) carry. Good thing the Galaxy S III has a lot more memory than the iPhone or Apple would probably sue them for copying.
What does this tell us? Well, the obvious main conclusion is that, gee, computing power sure has grown in leaps and bounds since 1977! Other than that, it reinforces the conclusion from my piece on the number of lines of code to power devices through the years: modern day gadgets like smartphones and tablets require a lot more computer power than do spacecraft that take men to the moon, rovers to Mars or eight-track players to the edge of the solar system. You just don’t need touch screens, pinch-and-zoom or speech recognition software to explore Saturn’s rings or drive around Gale Crater.
Now, what was I saying before I mentioned Voyager again?
Voyager - Combined memory for Computer Command System, Flight Data System and Attitude and Articulation Control System computers for Voyager 1 (Voyager 2 has identical systems). Source: http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/faq.html
Apollo - Combined on-board memory for Lunar Module Guidance Computer and Command Module’s Apollo Guidance Computer for Apollo 11. Source:http://www.doneyles.com/LM/Tales.html
Space Shuttle - Memory for the shuttle’s General Purpose Computer after 1991. Source:http://www.popsci.com/node/31716