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.