# Portable Storage Capacity History

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In prepping for my first lesson on Tuesday, I'm reviewing a power point that is provided. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but it's not great. One thing they wanted to talk about was the invention of the floppy in 1971, and they showed 3.5" disks.

So I went and grabbed pictures of 8", 5 1/4", & 3.5" next to each other. Then I added a Micro SD next to them for contrast.

I never used an 8" disk. According to my research, the first ones could hold 80 KB. Converting to metric, they are 203 mm per side, or 41,209 sq mm.

Micro SD is 11 mm x 15 mm, or 165 sq mm. Largest capacity available today is 1 TB. Using decimal units for consistency and ease of computation, 12.5M times more capacity on one Micro SD vs an original 8" disk.

But density is important! You can fit almost 250 Micro SD cards in the same surface area as the 8" disk. I'm rounding up. Anyway, 250 TB in the same surface area, or 3.125B times more capacity if my math is right.

It is claimed that a standard typewritten page is about 2 KB. 40 pages of text on the 8" disk vs 125B pages in the equivalent surface area of 1 TB Micro SD cards.

Or in Library of Congress units: 25 LOCs in the Micro SD capacity, 8 nano LOC in the 8" disk capacity.

Edited by Scott Robison
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This of course ignores the thickness discrepancy (1.6 mm per 8" disk vs 1 mm per Micro SD), but since you can't fit a minimum of two Micro SD in the thickness of the 8" disk, it doesn't seem worth computing.

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I guess if I'm going to be *really* fair, I should limit my width and height like I did the thickness. So 13 x 18 Micro SD, or 234 TB in the same area (or less).

Still danged impressive progress we've made over 50 years.

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I can remember using 8" disks on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model II back in elementary school. Both my Math and Science teachers had them. Circa 1980'ish. Though I never owned one myself, I just remember thinking it was so cool when I got my first 5.25" drive on my TI-99/4A. How times have changed. To be honest, I sometimes miss physical magnetic media, and their sounds. Also, who can forget the iconic IMSAI 8" floppy drive from WarGames! I remember wanting one so bad, even though it was technically outdated by the time the movie came out. I still thought it was cool!

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6 minutes ago, Strider said:

I can remember using 8" disks on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model II back in elementary school. Both my Math and Science teachers had them. Circa 1980'ish. Though I never owned one myself, I just remember thinking it was so cool when I got my first 5.25" drive on my TI-99/4A. How times have changed. To be honest, I sometimes miss physical magnetic media, and their sounds. Also, who can forget the iconic IMSAI 8" floppy drive from WarGames! I remember wanting one so bad, even though it was technically outdated by the time the movie came out. I still thought it was cool!

https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a29539578/air-force-floppy-disks/ is an interesting story about how 8" disks were still used until just a couple years ago for military applications!

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23 minutes ago, Strider said:

To be honest, I sometimes miss physical magnetic media, and their sounds.

I admit I turn on disk drive sounds in Vice. But then I also miss fast loaders when I don't have them, so I'm really inconsistent.

Imagine today's teens using Micro SD cards with their ~100MB/s transfer speeds in 40 years when people are using warped space physics to transfer data FTL and missing the good old days of their slow 100 MB/s cards.

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31 minutes ago, Scott Robison said:

I admit I turn on disk drive sounds in Vice. But then I also miss fast loaders when I don't have them, so I'm really inconsistent.

Imagine today's teens using Micro SD cards with their ~100MB/s transfer speeds in 40 years when people are using warped space physics to transfer data FTL and missing the good old days of their slow 100 MB/s cards.

This is me as well.

I like modern speeds and capacity, but miss the actual media. I guess I also miss swapping out disks... the fact it seemed more tangible.

I know it sounds strange, but I feel like some of the appeal of computing is lost in modern conveniences.

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On 8/9/2021 at 1:29 AM, Strider said:

I guess I also miss swapping out disks... the fact it seemed more tangible.

I have a MicroSD-based .mp3 player; I have about 5-6 2GB cards, and I switch genres (jazz, classical, chiptune, etc.) by physically swapping out the cards.

It's surprisingly satisfying.

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1 hour ago, John Chow Seymour said:

I have a MicroSD-based .mp3 player; I have about 5-6 2GB cards, and I switch genres (jazz, classical, chiptune, etc.) by physically swapping out the cards.

It's surprisingly satisfying.

I do that with my RetroPie versions on Raspberry Pi. I have 4 different builds I swap out. You're right, it is oddly satisfying. :)

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I like the drive noises on VICE as well.  HOWEVER...

The only situation where I might tolerate a Commodore 1541 disk drive is for reading files that are maybe 5 blocks or smaller.  And infrequently at that, e.g. once per hour.

Under no other circumstance would I use that beast.  The nostalgia factor is just not there.  It's more like remembering solitary confinement.

Edited by rje
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1 minute ago, rje said:

I like the drive noises on VICE as well.  HOWEVER...

The only situation where I might tolerate a Commodore 1541 disk drive is for reading files that are maybe 5 blocks or smaller.  And infrequently at that, e.g. once per hour.

Under no other circumstance would I use that beast.  The nostalgia factor is just not there.  It's more like remembering solitary confinement.

What you're saying is that at least in this one case, you are not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.

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Maybe start your storage history here:  9-track tape; 20 Megs capacity

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27 minutes ago, EMwhite said:

Maybe start your storage history here:  9-track tape; 20 Megs capacity

The curriculum I'm using started with floppies in 1971, but showed 3.5" disks. So I had to at least correct that much of it!

I did have a job in the late 80s that involved 9 track tapes just like that for a direct mail marketer.

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Ok final offer : )

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Ahhh paper tape.  I haven't had the displeasure.  But I do have some that Dad gave me back in the 70s.  It looks neat.

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On 8/19/2021 at 10:13 AM, EMwhite said:

Maybe start your storage history here:  9-track tape; 20 Megs capacity

"One shouldn't underestimate the bandwidth of a pick up truck bed full of nine track tape"

Never used nine-track tape OR paper tape, but used punch cards to get through Fortran.

Edited by BruceMcF
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I never had the privilege, or misfortune, of dealing with any form of storage media older than cassette and 8" floppy.

Though I always wanted a "reel to reel" just for the sake of storing programs on it just becasue I used to think it looked so cool on the big screen and TV.

The most impressive to me was the hand-weaved memory or Core Rope Memory used on Apollo and how that tech took us to the Moon, truly amazing!

There is a really good video from Smarter Every Day and Linus Tech Tips on the subject of the Apollo Guidance Computer.

Edited by Strider
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As impressive as core memory of the day was, the actual CODE was 'hard coded' / hard wired bit by bit;  Today we call it ROM but there was a block on Apollo that WAS the code that in 6502-land, we enter via hexadecimal and a keypad.  Pure luxury.

If you have 70 mins to be absolutely amazed, watch this presentation by a Robert Wills, Cisco Engineer that has been studying the flight computer, discusses the capabilities, what really happened during the Apollo 1201 and 1202 alarm codes.  Then and only then, listen to the song linked below ("GO" by Public Service Broadcasting) with headphones LOUD.    It helps if you know of and know the voice of Gene Kranz, Apollo flight controller, or may you've seen Ed Harris play this historic character in the Ron Howard / Tom Hanks 'Apollo 13' movie.

I know I'm asking for alot : ) but if you are a fan of the U.S. Space Program or retro tech in general, this will kick your appreciation up a few notches.  There's also a very good book on the Apollo flight computer that can be picked up on Amazon.  It's NOT an easy read but nice to have on your shelf.

Enjoy

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