Who Wants to Feel *Real* Old (Special Free Gigabyte Edition!), 16 January 2014


Good Evening:

Everyone? Excellent.

A little over 20 years ago, I finally filled the seemingly endless vista of the 40 megabyte hard drive of my first computer, the first Mac Classic. I ordered a 170 mb external hard drive over the phone for $399 plus shipping and handling (a phrase you’ve heard before). My friends asked me, “Vonn, are you stealing software?”


In 1999, I finally filled the seemingly endless vista of the 500 megabyte hard drive of my third computer, a Macintosh Performa 4400. I ordered a 4 gigabyte external hard drive over the phone for $399 plus shipping and handling. Since my 170 had served so well, I purchased the 4 GB from the same company. I told the phone operator about the 170 and how it also cost $399. He made a weird sort of snorting sound and said, “Please hold for a moment.” He did not do a good job of covering the phone, as I clearly heard him say, “You will NOT believe what this customer just said!”

My friends asked me, “Vonn, are you stealing software?”


Today, a co-worker attended a financial planning seminar on behalf of the entire HR department because of some changes coming to our 457 plan [similar to a 401(k)]. Among the free goodies on display were a bowl of free 1 gigabyte flash drives.

Free gigabytes of storage. Nearly six times greater than my 170 mb hard drive.


And nobody took any. Not even one.

My colleague scooped up a couple of handfuls and shared them with the rest of us when he returned to the office. One gigabyte holds my absolutely most critical files, so I added one to my collection of flash drives (yeah, I do a lot of backups). But it makes me shake my head; nowadays, one gig is so nothing people give it away.

I’m old enough to remember when people dreamed of a future of one gigabytes hard drives.

Vonn Scott Bair


4 responses »

  1. Good Midday,

    (Cue the Apple mass storage nerd)

    The original Mac OS on a 128k original Macintosh fit on a 400k floppy disk and there was room for application software and maybe a couple of user files. The current OS X requires 8 GB just for itself. But that’s a 30 year time span… not exactly the blink of an eye (no matter how some of us including the human typing this may perceive it).

    It goes on and on and on (and once made an American Squirm): Bill Gates and his no one needs more than 640k quote. The current day’s capacity seems so huge and sufficient, until it isn’t… if not literally days later, weeks or months or just a few years later.

    I have one 1 TB and two 2 TB external archival/backup drives. They’re not totally full but neither are they empty. *Terabyte!* There are already plenty of more capacious drives, and in not that many years, single-digit terabyte drives like these will be sitting at a bar chatting with Vonn’s and my and possibly your 80 MB/170 MB/250 MB/500 MB/1 GB/4 GB/10 GB etc. etc. etc. forgotten and un- or seldom-used older hard drives, talking about the good old days when they were da bomb: used, loved, sought out.

    “And what about these new 500 TB drives?” a drunk and somewhat dissipated 10 GB Seagate 3.5″ form factor may ask.

    “Save a seat for ’em down there next to Frankie 500 G” an 80 GB 2.5″ Apple notebook OEM drive might reply. “The 1 PBs [petabytes] drop next year.”

    • S.P.: (Cue the old man reminiscing) I remember when floppy disks were, well, you know, for lack of a better term, floppy. Heck, I can remember when floppy disks weren’t disks, but stacks of keypunch paper that Dad had to take to the computer building at Yale University–after reserving computer time, of course. Vonn Scott Bair

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