Sunday, November 11, 2007

Milestones in Computing

When I was eight my parents got a Mac 512K-E. It had one half of a megabyte of RAM and no hard drive. The floppy discs it used could hold as much as 800 kilobytes, or, 0.8 megabytes.

In the early 1990s we got a Mac LCII with an 80 megabyte hard drive and one floppy drive. I thought we would never fill up that hard drive. We did. At one point, over one quarter of the hard drive was taken up by the installation of King's Quest VI, the installation of which was contained on nine floppy discs.

My brother Andy purchased a one gigabyte hard drive a few years later. He allowed me to use 100 megabytes of it, which I thought I would never fill up.

We later got an iMac with, if I remember correctly, a four gigabyte hard drive. I thought we would never fill it up.

Shortly thereafter my brother Phil purchased what I considered to be the pinnacle of MP3 players at the time: an Iomega HipZip. It used removable 64-megabyte discs--more than enough for listening to music on the go.

My brother Phil also purchased one of the first consumer-level digital cameras in the early 2000s. He spent nearly one hundred dollars on a 64-megabyte card for it. I thought he was out of his mind to want so much storage space.

In the summer of 2004 I purchased an iMac with a ten-gigabyte hard drive. I was fairly certain I would fill it up.

In the fall of 2003 I purchased an external 160-gigabyte hard drive. I thought I would never fill it up. I began booting solely from the external drive.

In the spring of 2004 my iMac began smoking and stopped working altogether (perhaps a computer designed without an internal fan was a poor idea, Mr. Ive). I purchased an eMac with a 40-gigabyte hard drive. I continued to boot from the external 160-gig drive, thus ensuring minimal data loss in the event of another smoke incident.

In the summer of 2006 I purchased an external 250-gigabyte hard drive, bring my total storage up to near half a terabyte*. I thought I would never fill it up.

Today my wife and I purchased a 320-gigabyte hard drive for less than what Phil paid for his 64-megabyte camera card six years ago. I imagine we will fill it up, probably much sooner than we think.

*to put things in perspective, my brother Andy once told me that an isolinear chip holds roughly two to four terabytes


Phil said...

Good times, indeed. Though you wrote "megabyte" a couple times near the end where you obviously meant to write "gigabyte", the point is still clear. Now for a few corrections from the guy who found that one particular episode of Bat Man...

My Iomega HipZip had 40MB discs, even smaller than what you said, and we still thought it was the perfect way to do MP3s on the go.

I also recall paying in the neighborhood of $130 for my 64MB Compact Flash card. Either way, I'm sure that you did indeed buy your 320GB drive for *less* than that.

Boggles the mind, eh?

Simon said...

Thanks for the notes about mega and giga. I have corrected them, but left the rest of the article unchanged. I was wrong, and the world needs to know! I didn't know the HipZip only had a 40-meg drive. Wow. That's really small, in retrospect. And yes, our drive was a nice Maxtor drive, with USB and FireWire cables included, for $90.

gb said...

currently i'm getting by on 80gb + 120gb backup.... don't know how.... oh, to be part of the terrabyte crowd...