Sunday, November 1, 2009

One. Tera. Byte.

Always the futurist, I bought a Leading Edge Model D Personal Computer in 1986 for $1,500. With its amber-colored monochrome monitor, proprietary word processing and database software, and choice of either two floppy drives or one floppy and one hard drive, this Korean-made entry into the nascent, IBM-compatible personal computer market was considered at the time to be a value-oriented bargain.

I opted for the hardware version with two 360-kilobyte floppy drives. Why would a home user, even a writer wannabe, ever need a hard drive, a $100 option? Who could possibly fill even a fraction of ten megabytes -- that's more than a million English words! Twenty novels! Whereas my likely storage requirement was for a half-dozen unpublished articles, a dozen letters home, and a couple of text adventure games.

With word processing software disk in one floppy drive and data disk in the other, I was good to go. No more tiptoeing around allowable-use policies on the mainframes and time-sharing systems at school and work. No more jostling for access to shared PC equipment and dedicated word processors. No more flipping sign-up sheets. More disk space than I thought I would ever need, totally at my disposal, totally my own. So modern; so ahead of the curve. You bet!

I just looked at the electronics ads in this morning's Sunday edition of the New York Times. For a mere $200 -- discounted online to about $100 -- you can now buy an external hard drive from a computer accessories vendor that has one terabyte of data storage space.

One terabyte for $100. With apologies to binary computing purists, that's 1000 gigabytes, each of which is 1000 megabytes, each of which is 1000 kilobytes, each of which is 1000 bytes. 100 billion English words. Two million novels.

I'd better start writing!

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