The Incredible Shrinking Data Storage

In the beginning was paper.

4.5 megs data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

4.5 megabytes of data in 62500 punch cards, 1955


132 MB on floppies on the right. 128 GB flash drive on the left.


“This CD-ROM can hold more information than all the paper that’s here below me”
– Bill Gates,1994


8 GB memory resting on 64 magnetic cores that hold 8 bytes.


10 years = 3 orders of magnitude.

Kingston™ is now planning to release a HyperX 1 TB thumb drive.

Where do we go from here? Science is playing with SMMs (Single Molecule Magnets) and SAMs (Single Atom Magnets.)

Are we on track to replicate “Ms Fnd in a Lbry“? Only time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Ms fnd in a lbry… real-time

I previously posted about Hal Draper’s delightful mathematical science-fiction story – the only one he ever wrote – about the challenges of storing and indexing data in ever smaller spaces, requiring ever-larger retrieval indices. But back in 1966, librarians were taking stock of their growing inventories of information, and turning to computers to lend a helping hand… uh, transistor.


1966. “To the rescue. Many librarians believe computers are the only means to effectively cope with their bulging bookshelves.” New York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Library of Congress. Found at Shorpy.

This photo was taken three years before I took my first FORTRAN class, on a Univac 1108. The advances I have seen in technology in my lifetime rival what my grandparents experienced moving from horse-and-buggy days to the advent of commercial jets, from radio to television. My smartphone has more processing power than the IBM 370/138 I worked on as a graduate student; I always wonder with white-hot curiosity what my grandchildren will be experiencing.

The Old Wolf has spoken.