Storage Devices Over the Years

I feel all nostalgic, looking back at how storage has evolved over the years, since I first started using computers in a none-educational capacity, back in the ’90s.

I have memories of the 8-inch, 5¼-inch, and 3½-inch floppy disks. I have memories of DAT tapes via an Amstrad, loading up screeching data for a very BASIC application. I recall buying what was possibly my first pendrive from PC World, for around £20, which rather unremarkedly earned me 128MB of storage. I remember buying CD and DVD writable discs, then rewritable discs. I remember just a few years ago—perhaps more than just a few—I bought a Hitachi external HDD, 500GB, for £60 from Argos.

We have so many ways to save our data. I reflect on all of this because I recently acquired an SSD, at long last, with its blazingly fast speeds, I’m reminded of the IDE cables – do you remember buying or salvaging a better cable in order to get better speed from your old IDE HDD? Those were the days. Fiddling around with master and slave, as though we were playing dominatrix to our old, mechanical platters.

I remember moving from IDE to SATA, stubbornly typing it as S-ATA, because that’s what so many magazines and online sources were doing – I was determined to type it how I wanted! Here I am, typing it like the rest of us, because most of us realised the hyphen is completely unnecessary. SATA was revolutionary. Not only has SATA given us more power-efficient devices, better cable management, and faster speeds, but they’ve done away with the bedroom master-slave business and allowed us to just simply plug it in and away you go – fantastic!

Now, here we are, the Dawn of the SSD, despite their existance—n some form or another—for quite a while, they have been more widely commercially available to the general Joe Bloggs since approximately 2002, around the time NAS flash SSDs transferred to our computers. I see SSDs now, and, probably like many others, I see them as the future. I think HDDs will gradually be eliminated. I see no way to properly obtain the speeds required for a lot of today’s computing with an old technology that is only so upgradeable. The fact is, the mechanical drive has moving parts, and this slows down file access. SSDs, however, as we all know, “have no moving parts,” as they are so often applauded.

It’s not just the performance of drives and their physical size, but also the size on the disk itself, or disc, if you consider the optical media. Back in the late ’90s, I had an old Windows 95 machine with, I believe, a 2GB PATA HDD and an old, slow cable. Honestly, the years and modern technology have not done well for my memory of the old wires I would use – I remember scrapping old computers for cables and amassing a rather big pile of junk.

We have cards, too—there doesn’t seem to be an end to the way in which we Ctrl + S our data. There’s MMC, SMC, SD, MicroSD, and many more. Our phones, our tablets, our cameras, and who knows what else often have little cards in them storing so much data; this makes me think on the physical size of the storage devices we now have. Look at the change from clunky HDD to a tiny, thin little card, and the card is now capable of more than that 2GB HDD I had when I was a kid! Astonishing.

To paraphrase a news headline by Extreme Tech: “Western Digital unveils the world’s first 10TB HDD,” apparently. Hell, back when I had a RISC computer, I believe I was looking merely at MB, rather than TB! How long before we’re toting 1mm Exabyte memory cards for our insanely high-pixel pictures and videos taken by our microscopic cameras? When exactly will we be satisfied?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super impressed with technology and how it has developed, but, I have to say, I’m a little intimidated by the speed and furosity at which technology is blasting ahead, stopping at nothing to bedazzle and bemuse the consumer, bringing in the big bucks.

Oh well, save as.

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