Computer Storage 1980 vs. 2010

We all know that computing power and storage have increased exponentially over the last couple of decades but this graphic illustrates the phenomenon very well:

storage-1980-2010 The red button in a IBM 3380 cabinet is as big as three MicroSD cards

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, my first computer, purchased in 1989, had 640k RAM and an 8 MB hard drive.

via John Biggs

Most of us carry portable telephones that have more storage than that.  And your average music file of today wouldn’t fit on that old computer.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    I guess I could bore you with a lot of painful memories, but to reduce it all:

    first computer purchase: used RadioShack TRS-80, Model I, Level I, 4K RAM, no disk ~$400

    most recent computer purchase: refurb Gateway quad-core Intel, 4GB RAM, 650G disk ~$330

    (It’s actually the intermediate purchases that were the worst, like the Mac II in 1986 for ~$5000 1986 dollars.)

  2. Bill says:

    That brings back memories. I installed and worked on that beast. What is not shown is the 3880 controller used to communicate with the CPU. It was about the size of a double wide freezer.

  3. Houston says:

    And your average music file of today wouldn’t fit on that old computer

    Most mp3’s are about 3-5 MB…

  4. Triumph says:

    Most mp3’s are about 3-5 MB…

    MP3s are crap quality and not worthy of being considered a “music file.”

    As J-Dawg says, most lossless music files won’t fit on the old skool computer.

  5. DC Loser says:

    MP3s are crap quality and not worthy of being considered a “music file.”

    Which is why I never buy downloaded music and still prefer the old school method of getting a CD and its near master digital files.

  6. xformed says:

    Bought the “first” of the habit in 10/81: Apple ][+. 48K RAM, 80Col card, Zenith 12″ green screen, C-Ioth Daisy wheel printer, DUAL (!) 5 1/4″ floppies at a monstrous 134K ea: $5400. Wife did some professional WP jobs from home, I typed in games from Byte in assembler and BASIC, then began to program a year later using a Z80 Card. First HDD was a 5M, big as a shoebox one for $1200, and I got a discount at that. Began to chronicle that long journey here.

  7. bill elliott says:

    If only the government had taken over control of computer development and nationalized it. Just think how advanced it would be! We might be able to get a whole music file on our $10,000,000,000,000.00 computers.

  8. john personna says:

    It’s a fair argument, bill, that our mixed economy produced those computers (through government grants and contracts) whereas the “pure” free marketers and “pure” socialists failed.

    The game industry definitely helped as well ;-), I remember back in the day that Atari purchased more CPUs than every other company in the world, combined.

  9. I wish I had kept my Apple II+. Loved that thing. First game I got was “Battles of Napoleon.” $60 in 1981! I probably wouldn’t be in my profession today if it hadn’t been for that game and subsequent computer wargames I played.

  10. Triumph says:

    Which is why I never buy downloaded music and still prefer the old school method of getting a CD and its near master digital files.

    Dude, CDs are lame. Join the audiophile revolution and go back to vinyl!

  11. DC Loser says:

    Still have my vinyl collection and 80s vintage direct drive Technics TT. I never figured out how to get that working on the metro.

  12. Matt says:

    My first computer was a 386sx16 mhz with 1 mb of ram a 40 mb hard drive and DOS. I upgraded it with an 8 bit mono sound blaster card and ROCKED OUT!! Oregan trail was the game of the day. I’m not even sure what the price was but I’m sure it was way more then my current pieced together system.

    I use I compress my music with the ogg vorbis codec at a high bit rate. 16MB for a 5 minute song.

  13. Ole_Sarge says:

    The FIRST computer I ever touched — was when I was an Explorer in a post sponsored by a NASA facility, (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, back before STEM was a buzz-word). It was an old (then) mainframe and you entered “CODE” using key punched cards. Each line of a command was one card. Way back in 1977

    The first computers I actually worked on, were 1950’s technology — iron core memory, with servos that did the actual computing based on input from outside instruments and sensors, and weighed about 300 pounds. It only did one thing, but did it well and fast. Let’s not talk about “setting pins” okay.

    Oh and this was in 1979…

  14. Matt says:

    WEll the first computer I ever touched was an abacus 😛