Technological marvel

My first job out of school was working at a small computer company in South Bend, IN. I was there to maintain and extend some accounting software that ran on a minicomputer, but the company was slowly (and tragically, it turned out) beginning to test the waters with personal computers, starting with Apple IIs. The storage media of the time was 140K floppy disks (themselves a great improvement over cassette recorders, something I never had to use). But one of our wealthier customers decided to purchase a Corvus disk system, a hard drive that squeezed 5 megabytes of storage into a box roughly the size of a standard PC enclosure. Even though it sounded like a jet plane when it ran, we marveled at the fact that it only cost $5000, or $1000 per megabyte.

Today I received in the mail a small flash memory chip. It is smaller than the fingernail on my little finger, and about as thick as a credit card. It has 2 gigabytes of memory, and cost me $23, plus $5 shipping. That is roughly one penny per megabyte, or about 1/100,000th the cost of the Corvus disk system. It doesn’t make any noise, either.

One hundred thousand times cheaper isn’t necessarily one hundred thousand times better, I suppose. Imagine what it would be like if your garden were 100,000 times more productive, or the food coming out of it were 100,000 times better quality. But it is still something to marvel at.


2 thoughts on “Technological marvel

  1. Unlike you, I did get to use a cassette recorder for data storage. I had a TI-99-4A for which I wrote some payroll software and mail address list software. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I upgraded to a Commodore 64 with a 140K (or 170K, or whatever it was) floppy disk drive.

    I marvel at the growth of both storage media per dollar and RAM per dollar.

    And I wonder what will remain when the yogurt hits the fan. PCs are great tools, but recent generations of PCs that are built to die about the time they are technologically obsolete may leave us with nothing when the world as we know it gets a bump on the head.

    Always enjoying, and finding profit in, reading what you write …


  2. It is pretty amazing.

    It will be interesting to see if it will be Hubbert’s Peak that proves to be the immovable object that Moore’s Law runs into.

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