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Summary:

TECH HISTORY: The New York Times had a nice story about dressy hard drives that reminded me how much of our digital lives are dependent on this often ignored low-margin business. As mentioned before, from iPod to TiVo to our set-top boxes – everything is touched […]

TECH HISTORY: The New York Times had a nice story about dressy hard drives that reminded me how much of our digital lives are dependent on this often ignored low-margin business. As mentioned before, from iPod to TiVo to our set-top boxes – everything is touched by storage.

Times story reminded me of this quote from Storage maverick Al Shugart, who may have passed onto the beaches of Heaven, but he still lives amongst us, reminding us how much we owe him and his generation.

drivepastpresent.gif

“Make it bigger, faster, cheaper,” Shugart, founder of Shugart Associates & Seagate Technology, once famously said. Seagate Technology — originally Shugart Technology Inc. — sold a a 5.25-inch, 5-Mbyte drive for $1,500. The industry is still working hard to make sure that Shugart’s words still ring true. Sure things have changed a lot since then. Have a look… and see how much.

  • The magnetic HDD is 50 years old (#). In 1956 IBM introduced 305 RAMAC (random access method of accounting and control), which is like the great-great-great grandfather of today’s disks. It was the size of a refrigerator, and stored a total of 4.4 megabytes on 50 doubled-sided, two-foot-diameter disks. The disk had a density of 2,000 bits of data per square inch and had a purchase price of $10,000,000 per Gbyte. (#)
  • Today’s laptop drives are typically 2.5 inches and are a size of a deck of cards, and can store upto 160 gigabytes – or 131 billion bits per square inch. Price is less than $1 per gigabyte. (#)
  • Consumers bought 739.7 million gigabytes of hard-drive storage space last year. That is 11 times what they bought in 2003. (NYT)
  • In the U.S. alone, $600 million worth of external hard drives were sold in 2006, up 53% from 2005, The NPD Group, a market research firm, says. (NYT)
  • External hard drive prices declined 28.4% from $197 in 2003 to $141 in 2006 and the amount of storage space on the drives doubled.(NYT)
  • Per Gigabyte retail price of hard disk drive storage in 2003 was $2.04, but in 2006 it was 77 cents, according to The NPD Group.
  • The recording density for data — aka capacity — has increased 60,000,000-fold in 50 years. (#)
  • The amount of worldwide information is projected to grow from 161 exabytes in 2006 to 988 exabytes in 2010. An Exabyte is a million terabytes.(WWD)
  • By 2010, the total amount of data will overwhelm the total amount of digital storage by a factor of nearly 2 to 1. 2007 is the year that our ability to stuff bits into the digital universe will outstrip our ability to store them.(WWD)
  • Research shows that in large-scale IT installations, the annual disk replacement rates typically exceed 1%, with 2-4% common and up to 13% observed on some systems. (#)

Sources: I gleaned out some interesting little tidbits from The New York Times story, and another article from WebWorkerDaily. Rest of it comes from various different sources (#) such as Hitachi Research and are linked accordingly. The photo appears courtesy of Hitachi Research as well.

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  1. Scott Eblen Friday, March 9, 2007

    It’s interesting that most of the hard disk developments in your list were technical (improvements in storage & size) but the NYT story involves a new dimension (design). Hard drive makers are obviously looking for new ways to distinguish themselves.

    You may also be interested in this post comparing growth trends in hard disks compared to storage in iPods: http://www.libraryhouse.net/blog/2007/03/08/store-wars/?r=o

  2. Is there something like a Moore’s law for storage industry ??

  3. ‘Fun’ facts? I’d call them interesting, but not fun. Good points, though. And great blog, congrats.

  4. I’m a statistic Friday, March 9, 2007

    I’m part of the statistic I guess, bought a new 320 gb hd a few months back for about $80, works well enough but I guess that’s nothing compared to the moore’s law of what is possible now.

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  6. 苦牢之最後一年 Friday, March 9, 2007

    硬碟十事…

    硬碟的成長可能和 CPU 差不多吧 ?

    剛剛看到一篇有趣的文章,講一些有關硬碟的事,裡面列出了十條 你不一定知道的硬碟小事,略述如下:

    硬碟已經發展了 50 年了。第一部硬碟的原型是 IBM …

  7. 煎蛋 » 10 Fun Facts About Storage Friday, March 9, 2007

    [...] As mentioned before, from iPod to TiVo to our set-top boxes – everything is touched by storage.read more | digg [...]

  8. Windows Vista Saturday, March 10, 2007

    By 2012 though, hard drive manufacturers may have hard drives in quantities in excess of 5tb and laptop hard drives around 1tb, going to be interesting to see people fill those up. Plus if mp3 players start having 500gb hard drives, its going to be pretty obvious that you’re going to have to download many of those mp3s for “free” unless you like spending all your cash on mp3s.

    http://www.WindowsVistaUserGuide.com

  9. College of Information Saturday, March 10, 2007

    [...] full article is worth a [...]

  10. Young whippersnappers have no idea how good they have it in this age. :) Fast, big and cheap rules the day!

    I fondly remember backing up a Data General mini back in the 80s that used 50MB removable hard drive platter gizmos. The main and backup drives were the size of a washer and dryer, while the multiplatter disks were the size of jumbo birthday cakes.

    Flashforward a few years and I was burning thousands of corporate dollars on Barracudas, thinking they were the baddest thing in town. Glad it wasn’t my money …

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