Data capacity then and now, pretty amazing!


For a high school assignment back in 2003 I had to demonstrate competency in a spreadsheet application by entering data and creating several charts, or to use the exact language from the assignment sheet: "You must demonstrate competency in a spreadsheet application by entering data and creating several charts". I used the amount of rewritable computer data capacity I had on hand as my data.

ASIDE: Before I started using Macs as my primary machines I used Office 97 on my Windows machines. Even in 2003, I saw no compelling reason to use anything newer than Excel 97!

Well here we are in 2008 and by chance while I was pouring through my backups trying to find an old text file, I found that old Excel spreadsheet file and was absolutely flabbergasted (is that a word?) by the hard disk sizes! So to put things into perspective I decided to quickly open the file in Gnumeric and add data from my recent drives, and just for fun the data from some of our older machines (I didn't bother with my dad's AT or anything older!).

File sizes are shown in the hard disk manufacturer's advertised sizes which assume 1 kilobyte = 1000 bytes

Year Total Capacity Drives
1994 0.1GB internal
We gave up on MS-DOS DoubleSpace compression!
1997 5GB 4GB internal
100MB Zip disks x10
2003 190GB 80GB x2 in Windows desktop
30GB in iBook
15GB iPod 3G
2008 4195GB 60GB in MacBook Pro
750GB in DIY FreeBSD desktop
80GB in iBook
160GB in Armada M300
15GB iPod 3G
60GB iPod 5G
160GB USB 2.0 Iomega
320GB USB 2.0 WD
400GB FireWire 400 Seagate
500GB FireWire 400 Maxtor
750GB Gigabit NAS WD
1TB Gigabit NAS WD

And what would these four capacities look like in comparison to each other if they were put into a fun but fairly useless graph?

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and IaaS engineer in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Wait, not BIOS… my brain should be EFI by now.

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