21 July, 2011


Don't blink or you'll miss it

I bought a little portable disk drive yesterday from a nice Polish gentleman called Rafal. I know that because his name was printed on the Maplin's till ticket.

It's just big enough to cover my outstretched hand (ie palm + fingers), powered through the USB cable and has a capacity of 1.5TB, give or take the usual arguments over what constitutes a terabyte (TB or TiB?). That is startling. It's worth taking a step back and considering quite how startling. Less than twenty-five years ago, a mere twenty-five years ago I should say in my bestest quivering "When I were a lad" voice, we celebrated the upgrade of our departmental network from dumb terminals connected to an MP/M, S-100 "network in a single rack" system with 30MB of shared disk space, to floppy disk-only IBM PCs (256KB of RAM!!! *) connected to a Corvus Omninet LAN with a massive (© all computer mags and retail outlets) 90MB of shared disk space to flounder around in.

And those two 45MB disk drives did not take kindly to being moved about while spinning either, though I can't remember whether they were self-parking on powerdown or not. There was a time when an unexpected power interruption could mean a physically trashed disk as the heads "landed".

My new toy has an American brand name, was "made in Taiwan" and "assembled in China". Whatever that means exactly. Still you can't have everything.

There was one slightly disturbing moment. As I stood outside a nearby hostelry, sipping a pint of German lager, I read the packaging which gave a summary description of the product in more languages than you can shake a Eurocrat at. The Swedish translation included the phrase
färdig på ett kick
which in my confused way I read as meaning
ready for a good kicking
Fortunately good sense prevailed and I forbore from experimentally punting the contraption down the street. The actual meaning is "ready in an instant" and seems to be a slightly racy translation of "plug and play".

Altogether now. "Speak loudly and slowly in English. Repeat until the foreign Johnny gets the message."

What was the Swedish again for "Excuse me Sir, the left-hand horn on your helmet is poking in my eye." and "If you do stick your broadsword up my jacksy, as you threaten, my good man, I shall be compelled to summon a gunboat."?

* 256KB of RAM. It's indicative of something or other that I originally typed that as 256MB, an error which I only noticed after pressing the publish button. Clearly "kilobyte" is now purely an archæological term used by professional computer historians.

Crazy, innit. And in a good way, for once!

(Though give me an 8-bit video game from 1985 over a bloated eyecandy fest from last week, any time).

It seems to be just about the only area of real progress in the world today...

I can remember flash drives being about a quid a MB not so long ago... 64 meg, sir? Why yes we accept large cheques.

Now one expects to pay around a quid or so a gigabyte.

Shame petrol doesn't manage to do the same.

My first computer was the ZX81 with 1KB of memory, which I happily wrote programs for - BASIC and machine code.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?