Flashback Friday: “640K enough for anyone”

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While it is merely urban legend that Bill Gates said this memorable quote from the early 1980’s, the sentiment was true to the day.  640K was huge amounts of memory and it was hard to fathom how any individual person could need more than that. The same could be said about storage.  Computers for personal use were expensive for the consumers living through the tough 1980’s recession.  The Commodore 64 had an introduction price of just under $600 (3900 kronor), the equivalent of $1400 (9100 kronor) today; it came with a 1.6MB floppy disk drive.  Today hard disk drives are cheap.  The low end personal computers in Sweden, with the ticket price of under 2500 kronor, come with at least a 500 gigabyte hard disk drive.

In 1986 IBM introduced the IBM 9332 and 9335 which featured 25 million bits per square inch, the highest recording density in the industry at that time. Doing the math, that is only 2.98MB per square inch.  These massive HDD’s, in the case of the 9335, contained three 14inch (35.6cm) disks. One AS/400 System could have 1-3 of the 9335 running.  Today 64 gigabytes of static memory easily fits on the tip of a finger. We are now in the age of nanotechnology, a far cry from 14inch spinning disks.  Will our hunt for larger capacity and smaller footprint continue? If technology development over the last 30 years has taught us anything, it has to be that the possibilities are nearly endless.  Things left for science fiction of today may be tomorrow’s reality.


120 petabytes ought to be enough for anyone?


Cathy Andréasson

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