This is quite impressive:
General Electric says it has achieved a breakthrough in digital storage technology that will allow standard-size discs to hold the equivalent of 100 DVDs.
The storage advance, which G.E. is announcing on Monday, is just a laboratory success at this stage. The new technology must be made to work in products that can be mass-produced at affordable prices.
But optical storage experts and industry analysts who were told of the development said it held the promise of being a big step forward in digital storage with a wide range of potential uses in commercial, scientific and consumer markets.
“This could be the next generation of low-cost storage,” said Richard Doherty, an analyst at Envisioneering, a technology research firm.
I still laugh when I think about paying $196 bucks for 4 megs of ram to throw into my Gateway 2000 486 SX-33 to double the memory to 8 megs.
Disabled math coprocessor? WEAK.
Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse
I still cry when I think about paying $1700 (from my student loan) for a clone XT with amber monitor and dot matrix printer in 1987. I don’t remember what the RAM was, but the entire hard drive was 30 Mb, and I thought I had way too much and should have tried to get a better printer.
Dude in Jersey
I paid about the same for 4 extra megs for my Mac LCIII at about the same time. I blew my friends away with my 8 megs’ total ram.
Ha. In that vein, my brother and I bought a super fast 75 mhz processor to upgrade our shared desktop computer…around 1995.
Wait a minute. Consumer electronics innovation of enormous import — and invented by an American corporation? That’s unpossible, unless we’re still living in 1969. (Checks pants: no, not wearing infant diapers, must not be 1969.)
I’ll eagerly wait for the announcement that GE will begin production of this revolutionary storage device. In Guangzhou.
i got my first 20mb external drive sometime in ’88(?), for my macplus. i never thought it’d ever get filled.
I remember nearly crapping my pants the first time I played a 3-D FPS like DOOM around then. “Wow, the graphics are awesome! It’s so REAL!”
Alas, I was 10, and I’ll probably laugh at myself again when the ps5 premieres and I’ll remember 2007, when I thought “Wow, they’re right, COD4 IS the most photorealistic game ever”.
@freelancer: No kidding. Remember seeing Doom or Duke Nuke’m on a Voodoo card for the first time?
My first machine was a Commodore PET, 1980 – cost about $1000 and had 16K RAM and a cassette drive that transferred 10K a minute. And I loved it!
i spent years working on integer math routines (in assembly) because i thought math co’pers would always be an exotic, unaffordable option that few people would ever have.
oh, and my first 3D game was Descent. and i fucking loved it.
My first laptop (13 lbs) was a $7,000 Toshiba, ca. late 1987. It had a 30 meg hard drive and came loaded with MS-DOS…what the hell is MS-DOS? sigh… It was worth every penny my company paid for it. It was a miracle machine.
OT – check out Douthat’s first column at the NY Times.
i’ve been waiting for the next big leap in storage. every few years i consolidate my archives — all the floppies went onto syquests, the syquests went onto zips, the zips went onto cds … but i’m still waiting for dvds to get big enough to make consolidating the cds worthwhile. since they’re both optical, there’s no rush, but the things are accumulating …
Seriously. I spent almost $300 in 1978 to bring the ram in my Apple II from 16K to 32K. Then I bought this great thing called a floppy disk drive, so I didn’t have to load programs from my Panasonic cassette player.
I am so old!
First machine I spent any time on was a TI 99/4a–it was my uncle’s and I thought it was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen. I think the Pleo (which isn’t working) that’s gathering dust on my shelf probably has a million times the computing power of that thing–at least.
Back in 1978, I used to work on a computer than had 56K (Not M, not G, but K) of main memory. It could hold up to 64K, but my department couldn’t justify the cost of the additional 8K.
The good news is that it has the capacity of 100 DVD’s. The bad news is that it takes your computer 100X the time of a DVD to read it all in for random access and 100X the time to burn.
Yeah, I did that too. Lolz!
…and in ten years time, people will laugh at the idea of an optical disk holding only 500GB. It will seem as quaint as all of the above reminiscences of math co-processors and 256k of RAM.
In fact, they’ll probably laugh at the idea of storage disks, full stop.
The days of optical storage and hard disks are numbered. Right now, they cling on to relevance because solid state technology hasn’t caught up in storage density (a.k.a capacity) and cost yet, but that situation won’t last forever.
OT but, did you see that Gov Rick Perry asked the feds for help with the Swine Flu? Would that be considered foreign aid or wasteful government spending?
My first computer was an Apple 2 plus, about $3000 with a whopping 16K, although we did eventually upgrade to 64k for $200-300 (although my memory may be a little faulty on this). Nothing like hooking that puppy up to a cassette player to load data. In 1982 I got a rockin’ 300 baud modem and enjoyed my first pre-internet BBS networking. You could actually watch the text appear slowly on the screen. The computer still works, although I’ve lost most of the programs I’ve written for it..
Nope. Data will still need to be archived and there will always be need for the equivalent of a floppy for distribution.
The original SimCity(TM) on my B&W Mac Classis 2/40. @ MB ram 40 MB harddrive.
Well before that, my stepfather had a Trash-80 with two 512k floppies. It was less fun
My first computer was a TI-99. It was pretty awesome. Before that all I had access to were TRS-80s. Color, cassette drive, it’s the machine I really learned to program on. You have to work damn hard to keep everything in 4K RAM.
Tunnels of Doom FTW.
Back in ’94 or so, I remember Myst seeming like absolute magic, and the idea that I would be able to call up obscure 40 year old Joni Mitchell videos, on demand, for free…. forget about it.
Would it be too nerdy to mention that I regularly follow the news from the Holographic Versatile Disc Forum / Alliance?
We archive on hard drives (cheaper) and distribute via network or flash drives. Physical media is a bit more expensive, but when it comes time to migrate the archive forward (since none of these technologies is reliable forever) the hard drives are a clear winner when you factor in staff resources.
We determined that removable media was cost neutral and getting worse about 3-4 years ago.
@demkat620: I paid an additional $800 to buy a cdrom drive that I had to install.
Hah! I got all y’all beat! I remember adding a kilobyte of 8 bit memory to a Heathkit Z80 computer trainer. And then programming EBRS in assembly.
Absolutely! Though man did it suck when the cassette drive crapped out mid load.
And let us hope, a better production life.
The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
I paid $150 extra for 384 KB of RAM, to bring it up to a full MB. Turned out, of course, that it was absolutely worthless because of the 640 KB DOS ceiling. I’m still steamed about that, and it’s been 20 years.
I’m very happy about any development that keeps the superiority of optical media obvious. The fantasy that most people’s internet connections will have the bandwidth to replace them anytime in the foreseeable future is insane, as is anybody willing to pay money for the severely compressed video they can download or stream.
It’s not the free market that drives innovation, it’s the threat of extinction.
And that my friends is universally applicable….except maybe re the GOP.
We did the same thing! Heh, indeedy.
Ha! I’ve worked in the sales side of technology since ’94. My first sale was 4MB RAM for $150. I used to sell these huge 9GB external hard drives for 4 grand.
@Ed Marshall: For me it was TI-Trek, but yeah.
Not so sure about that. If the next few years see an investment in fiber optic / cable infrastructure, we should finally see a full transition away from distributed hard copies and to downloading purchasable software. CDs already aren’t used (at least not often, at least not in any of the places I’ve worked the last few years, except for this one shoestring operation that was producing vaporware and I think that speaks for itself) for data backup. And for data transfer and personal backups, flash drives have already eclipsed CDRW.
One of the big changes that’s on its way is solid state hard drives – basically flash drives that are big enough to replace your disk. For individuals there will be a speed boost, but it’s probable that most of what you do is already as fast as you can perceive it anyway. For commercial applications doing heavy data processing/manipulation/retrieval, it’s going to be a revolution.
Also, Zork on a Commodore 64 was the shit.
And just after the headline and first paragraph of Douthat’s column, all I can say is the editorial staff must be keeping Diageo in business these days.
Why is my comment in moderation? I said nothing about pen1s pills! It was mostly geek stuff about solid state electronics, with a little Douthat thrown in at the end.
Or is Douthat the pen1s pill?
I think I have my answer.
My first computer was a Gateway2000 386 -it was the hot buy in 1990, and i kept it going with it’s original software (WordPerfect ROCKED!!!1!) until 1998 when the power supply chucked a wobbly and cook the motherboard.
in 1995 I freaked out my wife by emptying our savings and my first graduate stipend check on a Thinkpad 701. She, at the time, could type 120 wpm on a Selectric, had tried laptop keyboards, and viewed them with disdain. When I opened the ThinkPad and the butterfly keyboard spread out on either side, she had this huge grin on her face…
TRS-80 bitchez! I remember talking my dad into “investing” in doubling the RAM from 64 to 128…K
Man but I fucked up the BBS’ all over the place!
I will never be able to describe the thrill of writing a software program that caused a train to “ride” across the screen for my G&T “encounters” class.
How bout you just implant the shit in my skulls ala Johnny Mnemonic?
I grew up in the modern days with special instruction sets for all that stuff, I guess I should feel lucky? Never knew how well I had it.
My early computer expansion memories revolve around how unaffordable MCA peripherals were and how cursed I was to be related to an IBM’er such that MCA was in my life.
I always back my stuff up on several disks. I don’t put everything on one piece of media. Eggs. One basket. Etc. I back up by date. One month’s worth of shit at a time on a DVD. I don’t want all my stuff in one place.
@PhysicsFun: You, sir or madam, may be my new God…FSM help us all.
My first hands-on computer was a DEC PDP-11owned by the Psych Department at Illinois. I was an undergrad programmer for the Developmental Psychophysiology Lab. We got in a module containing 16K of core memory, cost about $5000. That was in, I think, 1975. That brought it up to a whopping 24K. It used removable disks bigger than LPs that held 5Meg, IIRC. Never bought a computer of my own until the Mac came out. Bought a 128K Mac about 6 months after the first shipment, when they first dropped in price.
But it’s not about the media anymore but rather the management of the storage. I always hear the BS that “yeah, well but storage is cheap”. Sure it is! But who are you paying to manage it?
@Martin: I see you’re a fellow TRS-80 traveler. All hail the Radio Shack!
@JeremyH: Solid state is the absolute shit! The total, balls out absolute shit…for the next 20 seconds.
The other thing is that going from 8mb of ram to 16mb of ram was amazing. It let you run shit you couldn’t before, and a lot faster. I just added 2 gigs to my system and can barely see the difference.
I’m trying to wrap my mind around the idea of all that much data storage on a single disk.
Anyone know how many Grateful Dead concerts this would work out to a single disk?
I once spent $1,600,000 (today’s dollars) for a 240 megabyte hard storage unit. That’s megabytes, not these newfangled “gigabytes.” It was approximately the size of five large refrigerators welded together side-by-side.
Stay off my lawn!
I started on a vic 20. I remember trying to program without the tape deck. I couldn’t turn the machine off.
Third Eye Open
Oh how I remember those days sitting at the kitchen table with our IBM PS II playing Hugo and Oregon Trail
@JK: All of them. People have large HD’s with the entire history on it.
I’m waiting for my 2 TB SD card.
I was told that I’d have a flying car by now.
Technology is just lies.
@Martin: You have to work damn hard to keep everything in 4K RAM.
Yup. I still do that as a hobby – microcontrollers! Great fun.
I used to do assembly hacking professionally, including stuff for the original Nintendo Game Boy (which had 8K main RAM but quite a bit more in ROM).
So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time . . . .
C Nelson Reilly
@Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist: Microcontrollers! FORTH
Third Eye Open
Quit yelling in my masturbatoreum!
@Zzyzx: Thanks, that’s great news. Given this capacity, the entire studio catalogs for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Pink Floyd would make a fairly small dent on a single disk.
Too bad manned spaceflight hasn’t experienced the same breakthroughs as data storage. It would be fun to spend a long weekend planet hopping in the Andromeda Galaxy.
1994ish, last sale I made in a computer store. A guy setting up a digital video editing station wanted to max out his ram to 64MB.
I sold him 2 sticks of 32mb at $1800 a piece.
Ok, I remember, I had a wall mounted hard drive that was somehow daisy chained to a rs-232 card about double the size if a medieval bible. The card was that size, the wall mounted drive with supporting arms was more like a dutch oven. I remember that being 20 meg.
What was this monstrocity of which you speak?
The first hard drive for the IBM Series/1, a 16-bit contemporary of the PDP-11, was the 4962, a 15″, single-platter, single-sided 9BM drive that weighed about 75 pounds and cost about $20,000 in 1980ish dollars. The capacitors in the power supply were as big as a roll of paper towels, and frequently failed.
I programmed Series/1s for several years and thought they were wonderful machines. Today I look back and wondered how we ever managed to get such machines to do anything at all.
J. Michael Neal
My first experience with computers was when I was like 4 or 5. My father would take me to the Harvard computing center. While he worked, I’d fool around with the punch cards. I don’t even remember what I was pretending to do. I do remember the roll of Wild Cherry Lifesavers I got to buy from the vending machine each time.
One of the most useful laptops ever made was the TRS-80 Model 100. It was powered by AA batteries and when powered off would resume exactly where you left off. It was perfect for students, writers, etc. Simplicity is seriously underrated today.
Crap, I can’t even remember the IBM number of the computer I started with, Wright State U shared it with Wright Patterson AFB Propulsion Lab & SAC Logistics HQ. RAM my ass, anybody ever dropped a card deck/s? Or try to find the typo in one? Watbol5 compiler, state of the art – geeze… It occupied virtually the entire second floor of a good sized building… Egr Phys major w/ Comp Sci minor – glutton for punishment.
You’d have had to be there to understand what an odd campus that was, 10% USAF officers and an ungodly mix of social, economic, & political strata (including CPUSA).
Now I pound nails…
Kudos to GE global research.
100 of DVDs? 450Gb? That’s not big enough today, and it certainly won’t be enough by the time when people actually are going to be able to buy them.
And what will the price be? I doubt that the cost of backing up a normal sized hard drive with them will be anything near what it was for the CD-R or the DVD-R.
From the article:
Today, you can buy a hard drive for 9 cents a gigabyte. Not in 2011 or 2012, today.
@Chuck Butcher, yes, I do remember card decks. IBM 360/20, NavCommSta Japan; managed all our message traffic, both incoming and outgoing in 72-74 and still going when I left.
In 1983 I spent $5,000 for a 13.2MB platter (the size of a pizza) for an IBM S/34; that effectively doubled our storage space. It had either 64k or 96k RAM; can’t remember which.
Later I spent $400 on a 40MB external hard drive for a Mac Plus.
Back in October of last year I spent $400 for a 500GB 2K RAM desktop.
Around about 1989-1990 I purchased a Northgate 386 PC. It was the highest rated PC in a review in Infoworld Magazine at the time. It had one GB of RAM. It had a 20 GB hard drive. It was top of the line for the time. It also cost a cool $5,000.00. On the wall to the side of the door to my downstairs office at home are five generations of PC motherboards, mounted for display. The Northgate is the first one, followed be an example of each successive Pentium Generation. Makes for nice art.
Part of my 25+ year career in computing technology has been the amazement at the never ending progress of large scale integration into smaller and smaller components, combined with what is now pretty much the total commodity market for desktop computers. The only reason prices cannot go any lower than they are now is because at that point the manufacturers and workers would be paying people to take the components off their hands, rather than us paying them to make them for us.
don’t bother putting more than 3G in a 32-bit Windows box (any x86-based system, actually) . same reason as the 640K limit.
I’m holding onto my Scheinhardt Wig puts.
@cleek: I don’t know what is true of this, but I’ve got a 32-bit OS with 4GB and various intertoobz were telling me that some of the memory can be used by non-OS devices, such as video card memory, etc.; although I only encountered that perspective afterward, I just got it b/c it was a deal (buy a PC w/ 2GB RAM and a deal on 2 more 1GB sticks).
Ah memories. My TI-99-4a (as a few others above also had). I remember buying an expansion box for about $500 (or more) around 1983. What did that box do? Absolutely nothing… it merely let you add ‘cards’ that could do things… such as a 64K memory ‘card’ (that was about 8x8x1″) or a floppy drive. The 32k card was somewhere about $200. Hard drive? There were always ‘rumors’ that a hard drive was coming! Not sure that ever happened. Hell, even the cord that went from the ‘PE box’ to the computer cost money. Still, I loved that thing and actually did a lot of programming on it. I would say that I can trace a nice path from programming then to my current job as a SAS programmer. Incidentally, I was able to afford that batch of hardware because my then-girlfriend decided to bail out on going to Europe with me. The money I saved for the trip I spent on that computer. Best money I ever spent. Thanks Theresa!!!!
Just found this site: http://oldcomputers.net/ti994a.html
I was a commercial fisherman and I bought an Atari 800XL (1990?) with 64k ram to run a database of my wrecks and fishing logs. One night I was watching a NOVA show about chaos theory and they showed a Sierpinski Triangle. I thought it was neat to try and code that and wrote a program that plotted it – ran for two days : )
Today I do supercomputing at NASA – a long strange trip indeed.
that’s kindof true.
the issue is that the processor can only see 4GB worth of memory, so devices (like video cards) get mapped into that ‘extra’ 1GB chunk of addresses, essentially obscuring some part of any real memory you’ve put in there.
here’s how MS explains it.
the old C64 had this issue too (as do all computers, in one way or another). basically, it could see 65,535 addresses. but, some of those addresses had to be used to talk to things like the BASIC interpreter, or the sound chips, or character set ROM, or the OS itself. so, even though there was real RAM sitting at those addresses, you couldn’t talk to it because various bits of hardware and OS cruft were in the way.
@John Cole: Those were quasi ray-tracers. All you got was AA. You needed something like GLquake to show off your voodoo. Polygons and textures baby!
@cleek: Wrong. First off that’s mostly a 32 bit limitation. Secondly, if you compile with the /3GB switch it fudges things. Thirdly, there do exist schemes to take 32 bit windows out beyond 4 gigs (though it’s hacky like win32s), and fourthly, it’s impossible to buy a 32 bit box these days anyways.
you mean the /3GB boot option?
Dell has at least a dozen 32-bit Windows systems for sale right now.
Whenever I see a new low in hard disk prices (e.g. a 1 TB external drive at Costco for $125, or 12.5 cents a gigabyte), I always figure out how much that much storage would cost in terms of the first PC hard drive I saw in 1983, a Winchester 5MB (megabyte!) for $2,000. A terabyte would have cost $400,000,000 back then. Of course, there would have been no way to hook up 200,000 hard drives…
1983, I was one of the people saying 48K was all a business computer needed. Heck, we were selling servers with 128K that ran up to 32 dumb terminals.
An interesting realization (as I ate my words – no salt) was that the driver for improved processor, memory, and graphics was “fun”. Gamers were always the cutting edge, and then business would see what was there and take advantage. Word Processors and Spreadsheets? Ha!. The things that came as part of my Kaypro were more than sufficient for things I still do.
As a relevant digression, my cellphone – which is four years old and far from top of the line – has a faster processor and more memory than my 1984 Kaypro II. I think the next revolutionary jump in ‘what is a computer’ will come when input and output methods are ‘solved’. FWIW, part of input is actually done but not yet widespread. I’m speaking of Dragon Naturally Speaking voice control. Add a manual input that is ‘tiny’ but which can be done by the elderly and people with fat fingers and that side will be finished. (I’d love a thinking cap but think that’s a few years out still.) That just leaves video output that doesn’t require squinting for details to solve…
comrade thalarctos, aged geek
The collapse of DRAM prices over the last two years, while wonderful for consumers, has been hell on manufacturers and their (ex-) employees–for example, with Qimonda having gone into receivership, a few thousand folks in Virginia are now unemployed as the fab there has been shuttered. When you’re losing money on each chip, you can’t make it up with volume.
The first computer I used hands-on was a Data General Nova 2, which had 8 kwords of genuine ferrite core memory. To start the computer, you had to enter the bootstrap program via the switches on the front panel. That same summer, I was learning how to code FORTRAN on punch-cards.
Now get off of my lawn, pesky kids!
Guess I’ll have to buy the White Album again.
That would be $286.29 in 2007 dollars.
My first computer, which I have and still works, was an Atari 800 with cassette drive and I even got the 300 baud modem.
It had a full 48k and could load a 32k program in only 40 minutes from the cassette. As long as it didn’t error at the 39th minute that is.
I finally added a 5 1/4 floppy for only $400 in 1986.
I loved that computer. And you Commodore 64 owners can suck on it.
My second computer, bought in 1994, was a Gateway P5-60. 8MB RAM, 700MB HD, cost about $2700. But it had Windows for Workgroups and we actually used it the machine as a terminal emulator until it finally died in 2007 so I guess I got my money’s worth.
My dad was in the computer business when I was growing up so we had state-of-the-art technology like 300 baud modems! I remember logging on to BBSes in 1981 or so, dialing up the number on a rotary phone and physically inserting the handset into two rubbery cups in the modem, and watching the text appear on the screen not quite as fast as I could read it. My first computer game was Adventure. “You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike”
We were amazed when hard drives had come down in price so much that 1 gig of storage was $1000. A dollar a MB? Incredible.
John, I never paid more than $40 for memory, from 256kb to 2GB. Weird pricing system.
IBM 2314 Storage Unit for a System/360 mod 50. $250,000 in 1967; it was a significant chunk of the entire Brown University annual budget.
My first computer was an IBM 7070 with 5,000 ten-decimal-digit (yes, decimal digits) words of main memory.
Btw, we used that monstrously expensive and minuscule capacity System/360 to develop something called Hypertext. Wrote the first one in assembly language, the second version in an IBM internal system-programming language called PL/S.
paying $196 bucks for 4 megs
hah!#@ – $600 for 16 megs, 1993ish – i’ve grown a little less stupid since then