A Technology Moment


We discuss, read, and tweet computer technology every day. But we’ll occasionally have a delightful “Oh wow!” moment that demonstrates how much technology has advanced, and what it might enable in the future.

I was lucky to have had two of them last week.

Moment 1 of 2

The first was when I realized that typical desktop disk drives are now $100/TB. For example:

Google search results

Some results for WD 1.5TB disk search

Higher-performance and/or smaller-profile devices will cost more. But these Western Digital drives (available in .5TB – 2TB sizes) are at the knee of the curve for desktop and small server storage. They’re “green”: The smaller models have fewer parts (higher storage densities allowed WD to eliminate a platter); and they all use variable speeds, spin downs, and other tricks to cut power consumption.

I won’t bore you with a, “I remember when a 1GB drive was larger than a washing machine” story, but I remember when a 1GB drive was larger than a washing machine! Don’t even ask about the purchase cost, service costs, MTBF, or power consumption. They were stratospheric, relative to today’s standards.

$100 for 1TB. Oh wow!

Moment 2 of 2

The other moment came while I used a Garmin nüvi 255WT GPS receiver, which my wife gave me for my birthday. It comes preloaded with a NAVTEQ map of North America, including points of interest (restaurants, hospitals, etc.). You can load more maps into its onboard storage — and it has an SD Card slot.

My wife spent about $170 on this receiver I don’t know how much my wife spent, but let’s say it costs about $170. For $170, I have every North American street and address in my hand. And I can get directions to any of them. (Yeah, the addresses are estimated. Stop nitpicking.) Just for grins, it also has major world highways and cities.

I remember (circa 1988) when GPS receiver maps were fetched from a multi-CDROM changer back in the car trunk. That was a big deal! Now, I have all of North America in my hand. And in 10 years, for the same amount of money, I’ll be able to have every address on the planet in my hand, along with the ability to get directions to any of them. Oh wow!

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1 comment
  1. I just bought an 8GB Micro SD card for the wife’s phone for $40 and it really got me thinking. I remember my brother increasing the RAM from like 32k to 64k on his Apple IIC computer and it costing a few hundred dollars back in the 80’s. Maybe they will have a TB SD card in the next decade?

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