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Gather 'round kiddies - MegaZone's Safety Valve
The Ramblings of a Damaged Mind
zonereyrie
zonereyrie
Gather 'round kiddies
Let old uncle Zoner tell you about the Old Days of geekdom. :-)

OK, so, my first hard drive held 40MB. Yes, *M*B kiddies. Up to 80MB with Stacker! Yes, I ran Stacker on my old 286-12 DOS/WfWG 3.11 box back in college. You don't know what Stacker was? Go look it up. ;-) I forget how much that drive cost, but it was a few dollars a MB at least. I remember when it was big news that drives had hit the $1 per MB mark. Wow, an 80MB drive was only $80!

A couple of years ago it was common that drives were about $1 a GB. That's a 1,000 fold increase in capacity per dollar. (No, not 1024 - HD vendors use Giga not Gibi, deal with it.) That's over a span of about 10 years, maybe a little longer. My (now a few years old) iPod holds 60GB. That was just inconceivable even 10 years ago.

Well, today I saw this. A 500GB USB 2.0 external drive, for $149.95 after a $20 rebate. That's 30-cents a GB - and it is an external drive - enclosure, etc - which always cost more than internal drives. That's an incredible deal, really. I wonder how long it will be before we hit the next major mark of $1/TB. It probably seems insane to talk about that - but in 1990 talking about $1/GB was crazy talk. Hell, talking about PC-based drives that could hold just *one* GB was crazy talk. Remember it was only 2000 when CPUs first broke the "Gigahertz barrier", when AMD released a 1GHz Athlon. x86 CPUs peaked out at about 3.8GHz (in a P4 - not considering over-clocked rigs), but now we have multi-core CPUs humming in the 3GHz range. We take a lot of technology for granted, it is just part of the fabric of our lives in the modern world. But it really is amazing when you look at the pace of progress and all of the breakthroughs that have to keep happening at a rapid pace to keep the process running. In 2000 the big news in chips was the move to a 250 nanometer process, current chips are 65 nanometer, and the move to 45 nanometer will begin this year for Intel, and next year for AMD. In less than ten years several generations of chip-making technology have come and gone - the next breakthrough becoming obsolete in only a few years.

Sometimes something makes you stop and say "God damn..." - at least if you're a geek like me. Even something simple like a good deal on a hard drive.

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Current Location: 42.33821N 71.59212W
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Comments
agthorr From: agthorr Date: February 5th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
Within our lifetime, it will be technically possible for every person to have a copy of the entire Library of Congress and every album ever published on their cell phone.

(whether it will be legal is another matter...)
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: February 5th, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
Of course, people probably won't want to do that because we'll have persistent data connections to 'The Cloud' and will be able to access anything, anytime, anywhere, so why carry data with you when you can have it stored on a the cloud, RAIDed and backed up to hell and back? :-)
(Deleted comment)
agthorr From: agthorr Date: February 5th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
I was picturing more of a gigantic local cache. Storage, CPU, and bandwidth grow very quickly, but latency has a lower-bound set by the speed of light.
solipsistnation From: solipsistnation Date: February 5th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
People probably won't want to do that because so much of it is crap.
dariusk From: dariusk Date: February 5th, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
I never used Stacker, but I remember it! My first HD was I think 80 MB. Then I got a 200 MB drive and was amazed that I didn't have to uninstall one game in order to free up enough space for another. I could have, like, five games on my HD at once! I also remember thinking I'd never, ever fill up the 200 MB. Of course, I thought the same thing I got my first 1 GB drive, too. I no longer attempt to make predictions about my capacity to fill drives.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: February 5th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
One of the rules is that applications will grow to use all available space.

Drives got bigger - we started ripping music and filling them. Bigger still - digital video. :-)
dariusk From: dariusk Date: February 5th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
Interesting fact: the Blade Runner game, released in 1997, had a full install size of 1 GB (the game came on four CDs). I believe that at the time I had a 1.6 GB drive, although that sounds a little big.

Then again, here is a neat chart with the cost per MB/GB over time. According to this chart, 4 GB drives were top-of-the-line in 1997, so maybe I did have a 1 or 2 GB drive back then.
http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/winchest.html
blackcoat From: blackcoat Date: February 6th, 2007 12:38 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Every time a conversation like this comes up, I recall a letter to the help line in PC Gamer or somesuch that I read years and years ago, where a gentleman was talking about his 1.2GB hdd, and how to properly partition it, the magazines response was "seriously, 1.2G? What are you gonna do, install 200 copies of tie fighter or something?"

I regularly carry four times that on my keychain these days.
tyoshida From: tyoshida Date: February 5th, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
My first HD was a SuperMac 60MB and it cost $689 from Fry's. (I got it for my Macintosh SE with 1MB RAMm dual floppy and no HD which cost $2200!) I remember thinking about installing Salient's Disk Doubler but I opted for RAM Doubler that used HD space as virtual memory instead...
etherial From: etherial Date: February 5th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)

re: first hard drive

As did mine. Hand-me-down Macintosh SE, 1995. We even upgraded the RAM to 2 MB!
(Deleted comment)
mechaman From: mechaman Date: February 6th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Which woot.com is currently selling for 30.
From: kumquatcocktail Date: February 5th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
Wow, now I'm wishing I had held out for the 500 GB hard drive! It really is amazing how far we've come...or rather how much crap we now must carry with us on our computers like our entire life's work of photos and word documents and presentations and music. Seriously, I think I've just upgraded the sophistication of my pack ratness.
janscottfrazier From: janscottfrazier Date: February 5th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
My first hard drive was 5MB and my friends and I bought it together so we could use it for our BBS that ran off an Atari ST. My next hard drive was 20MB in my first laptop (396sx/12).
I've been lookig at getting a new laptop for school and now the low-end $500 laptops have more power and storage than my desktop and about twice what the best machine that we used in anime production was. Things move so fast...
sleet01 From: sleet01 Date: February 6th, 2007 09:57 am (UTC) (Direct Link)

On the D/L...

Seagate drives of the 250/500/750GB varieties, specifically perpendicular drives, have a good chance of carrying a creeping single-bit error because of a couple consecutive bad firmware revisions. The company I work for uses large arrays of COTS drives and our testing revealed significant data corruption that the drive's error correction facilities weren't catching. So my advice would be to check out "great deals" very carefully before making a purchase, and to steer clear of Seagate drives for the time being.

And yeah... God damn :)
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: February 6th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)

Ah well, down memory lane it is

My first computer was a C=64, and of course had no harddisk, just the standard 1541 (and I later added a "datasette"), because, damn!, those floppies were expensive, and for the datasette I could just recycle my mothers old music tapes).
A couple years later I got a hand-me-down PC from my father, a Turbo-XT - 10 MHz! And it even had a floppy drive with two heads, so one needn't turn the floppy around any more (and I still wonder why they didn't also do that with CD drives). I remember upgrading it to 640kB RAM (from 256), installing a second floppy drive, and then buying my very first own harddisk, 20 MB MFM, first with Stacker, then, when MSDOS 6 came out, with DoubleDisk (which IIRC was just Stacker in disguise anyway). I think I used this box for 4 years, learning Pascal, C, <spit>COBOL<spit> and lots of playing nethack (yes, there was a DOS port), until I got my first summer job, and could afford a top-of-the-line 386DX/40MHz.
krazyside From: krazyside Date: February 6th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)

Re: Ah well, down memory lane it is

(lands on beach, washed up from user's place)

My first HD was a MASSIVE 20 megabytes... on a 286. I'd had computers before that, but they all ran off floppies or tapes- my first floppy drive was on a crap British computer called a Spectrum +3, which ran 3 inch double sided thingies that you actually had to physically turn over to use the other side!

First ever computer though, that was a ZX81... for a week, then the keyboard broke. Remember them, kids? :-)
srmalloy From: srmalloy Date: February 7th, 2007 05:02 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
I remember paying $400 to buy a 20Mb Xebec (remember them?) hard drive to replace the 10Mb drive in the 4.77MHz XT clone I'd inherited from my mother, and wondering how I'd fill it all up. Now I casually download single images that wouldn't fit on it. I've bought Promise Technology ARLL disc controller cards to let me get better than RLL capacity out of MFM drives -- on a 40Mb Maxtor drive, I could get 78Mb, and the price of the controller was lower than the price of a bigger drive. I can remember going to a computer show, and the best thing that I came out of the show with were ten copies of IBM's VGA demo program (remember 320x200x256 graphics?), which they'd had stacked in piles for people to take -- on compact 3.5" HD floppies (at the time, they were selling for $65.00 for a box of ten).
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