I've already talked several times here about storage, like in "So Long Megabyte, Hello Petabyte!"
But this article from Wired Magazine looks at storage with a new angle. Here is the beginning.
Those of us with one foot far enough in the grave to have been using computers in the mid-1980s remember our extraordinary liberation from the floppy disk. We were freed from the requirement that all our programs and operating systems and files come in 360-kilobyte, 5½-inch chunks. It was a marvelous advance, the revolution in hard disk technology that gave us 10-megabyte mass storage devices for $1,000.
But it is the advances since then -- and those we can firmly see our future promising -- that are even more marvelous. Right now I am sitting in front of a whirring 60-gigabyte hard disk that cost less than $100. Do the math: If back then 10 megabytes cost $1,000, then 60 gigabytes would have cost x, where x = $6,000,000 and "back then" = 18 years ago. I'm sitting in front of $6,000,000 worth of mass storage, measured at mid-1980s prices. Happy me!
We have Moore's law for microprocessors. But who's coined a law for hard disks? In mass storage we have seen a 60,000-fold fall in price -- more than a dozen times the force of Moore's law, with less than one-hundredth the press excitement.
DeLong also looks at a non-distant future when a $100 mass storage device will hold a full terabyte.
He also thinks that with disk space becoming cheaper and cheaper, we'll be tempted to archive everything about ourselves, including pictures and videos. This is in fact the goal of the Gordon's Bell project, MyLifeBits. You can learn more about this project by reading this NewsFactor Network article, Microsoft Creating Virtual Brain.
Researchers at Microsoft's Media Presence Lab are developing a "virtual brain," a PC-based database that holds a record of an individual's complete life experience. Called MyLifeBits, the project aims to make this database of human memories searchable in the manner of a conventional search engine.
"By 2047, almost all information will be in cyberspace -- including all knowledge and creative works," said one of the project's leaders, Gordon Bell. "The most significant benefit will be a breakthrough in our ability to remotely communicate with one another using all our senses."
And Gordon Bell is serious about this.
Microsoft researcher Bell is himself the guinea pig for the prototype system. He is uploading a massive amount of personal memorabilia, from his trips to Alaska to his biking excursions in France. All of his e-mail is stored on the system, as is his passport, all of his work documents, and recordings of all of his phone calls.
Sources: J. Bradford DeLong, Wired Magazine, Issue 11.05, May 2003; James Maguire, NewsFactor Network, November 22, 2002
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