Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal has a fun piece in today's paper about the amazing gains that have been made in the field of digital storage technology. He notes that we reached another amazing milestone in the computing business with the annoucement of several terabyte-capacity disk drives from Hitachi, Seagate and others. (I saw some of these at CES this year. Very cool stuff.) The last time we reached a major storage milestone like this, he points out, was back in 1991 when we crossed the gigabyte threshold.
I'll never forget when those first 1-gig drives came out how I thought to myself "Geez, who in the hell would ever need that much capacity?" What an idiot I was. Of course, I could not have envisioned the explosion of so much downloadable digital content, the rise of digital photography / camcorders, and the coming of storable HD video. I recently maxed out an old 100-gig hard drive on a PC at my house and started stacking external hard drives to store all my digital content. And my wife and I have been holding off on upgrading to an HD camcorder because we fear we don't have enough storage space for all the home movies of the kids.
But hopefully that will now change for me. As Gomes points out, back when those old 1-gig drives where announced, they were priced in the $2000 range. By contrast, the new 1-terabyte drives are hitting the market at just $400 bucks. This means that, on a cost-per-byte basis, the old 1-gig models were 5,000 times as expensive as the newer models.
You gotta love capitalism!