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Monday, 15 June 2009


It just seems like yesterday that we had to partition a forty megabyte drive since MS-DOS could only address 32MB.

Optical storage was going to replace magnetic storage, too. I learned that from Datamation in about 1970, and again every 5 years since then in one source or another. And we did finally get ubiquitous optical storage -- but just as an archive and transfer medium, so far. I suspect this was caused by the same thing as rotating magnetic remaining around even though solid-state met its goals; the price of rotating magnetic dropped immensely more than people anticipated, and the demand for large storage is higher than anticipated.

I remember my first hard drive in the '80s. 40MB, big for the day. I did everything I could to fill it up, and I recall that I made it just a bit past 22MB...

Now, just like many people, I am bummed that I can't use anything bigger than 500GB in my laptop! That is, actually, quite insane, but most people just call it progress...

If you didn't see it before, the link below is a must-watch. Sometimes the comedians can say the things we can't, or don't know how.


"And the surprise party."

We had that. It was fun.

Very well said. Although I am technophile at heart, I do not envy the futurists one iota at all. I look forward to hearing that huge backlog of posts. Don't try to go weekly though Ctein. Three a month from you is probably about what my poor brain can handle comfortably.

Ctein, why don't you predict something useful, like the winning lottery numbers? ;-)

Congrats on 100! I'll be sticking around for the next 100, and predict I will be reading #200 with my eyes closed with a cable connected to my cortex feeding your words and images directly to my brain. Looking forward to that!

I always thoroughly enjoy your columns, even the ones with which I disagree.
"May you live long and prosper."

News just in...

SSDs are SO yesterday

Meet HRD (Hard Rectangular Drive):


The classic future that never arrived had flying cars. I'm still waiting for mine, but I's settle for a single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft.

Oh, and robots were going to make breakfast for us.

All this cheap storage is great and I have lots of it, but we all still have the problem of how and where to back up all that data onto something that is stable... What we really need is nearly twice or three times even the back-up space as data files. Can;' put all that data on floppy discs anymore... :)

I've been bemoaning the slowness of read/write and data transfer speeds for several years now, ever since my image files grew into double-digit MB's and my imagemaking grew into 4 GB per hour shooting. It simply takes too long to move data from one hard drive to another. That's really limiting the viability of multi-TB networked drives, in my opinion.

I thought you would like to see my predictions for film for 2010.

In the early ninties, when a terabyte of data could only be held in a large climate controlled room full of refrigerator-sized boxes, I was at an IBM conference where the keynote speaker, head of the IBM storage lab in Palo Alto, held up a matchbook and proclaimed that their goal was to fit a gigabyte of data on a device no larger than the matches in his hand. It was the stuff of fantasy.

CF cards are still a source of wonder for me.

I remember my first really big disk was a $1000 Connor 210MB unit. I've recently installed 2 1TB units for under $300. That's progress. Just made a composite photo — 300MB. That was impossible not too long ago.

The first hard disk I had was 10 MB. Now I have a camera which produces an image file that would exceed the capacity of that disk! I'm about to buy a new laptop with a 500 GB disk drive -- and I'm wondering if it will be enough.

When a technology is entrenched, there is a strong incentive to squeeze everything possible from it. Disc drives, as you mention, are one instance of this--tricks like perpendicular magnetic recording and the use of giant magnetoresistance in read heads keep moving disc drive technology forward.

Other examples can be found: 15-20 years ago, the smart money was saying that copper wiring for computer communication was already obsolete--yet now we have gigabit ethernet over copper twisted-pair wiring. Likewise, it was thought that the wavelength of UV light would limit the development of silicon chips--but the use of immersive optics has allowed feature size to push down to below 30 nm. Maglev trains have been the Next Big Thing for thirty years, but instead we have old-fashioned steel wheels on steel rails going 300+ km/h on a daily basis.

But I'm still waiting for my personal jetpack. The future just ain't what it used to be.

The future is always a few years away. In the early 80's I used to visit the UK atomic energy authority on occasion (To use their Cray) and at that time they were predicting Nuclear fusion to generate electricity in 30-40 years. Now they are predicting this will happen in 30-50 years. hmmm...

@Carl: So true what you say. My wife said that my life is now dedicated to file copy instead of doing anything useful, not that she will say that taking photo is that useful hobby but way better than file copy. I went back to slide taking for snapshot and look at them as it is to avoid the copy, backup, organise, ... cycle and taking too many pictures.

Happy 100, Ctein. Congratulation (and many thanks) on reaching the milestone.

My personal memory (from c. 1982) is of the reverential hush that my colleagues and I greeted the then new IBM PC's 5 megabyte auxiliary hard drive, housed in a desktop chassis as large as the CPU unit itself. No special climate control needed!

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