As a software guy, I'm naturally amazed and bemused by pretty much anything hardware-related. The one aspect of the relentless march of technology which most boggles my mind is the rapid increase in storage capacity which we have seen in recent years, combined with a proportionate decrease in the physical space it occupies.
This morning I've taken delivery of a 2 Gb Micro SD card for my new mobile phone. That's about enough to hold 500 MP3s or a couple of thousand decent-sized photographs, although I'll be using half of it to hold street-level maps of the whole of Western Europe. What's remarkable to me is that this comes in a form factor the size of my little fingernail, contains no moving parts, and arrived with a free SD adapter to make it more manageable for use in card readers.
Am I the only person who finds this utterly incredible? Maybe I should try not to think about it too much, because doing so always seems to paralyse me into inactivity while I reminisce about the various storage media I've encountered in my short journey through the world of IT.
Two gigabytes in something the size of my fingernail, costing around a fiver! When I bought my first PC just over a decade ago, that was the average size of a computer hard drive, and cost about £100.
Just a few years before that, in the early nineties, I worked all summer to save up to buy a A590 hard drive for my Amiga. That cost around £400, and had a capacity of just 20 Mb, i.e. one hundredth the capacity of the fingernail-sized miracle which fell through my letterbox today. We've come a long long way in less than a couple of decades.
Incidentally, the new mobile phone I got (HTC TyTN II, branded as Vodafone 1615) is also quite awesome, and is as far removed from the first mobile phone I bought a decade ago as a Roman chariot is from the space shuttle! It has processor power and RAM equivalent to turn-of-the-century PCs, integrated GPS, two cameras, touch screen, and every communications protocol known to humanity (probably). Who needs an iPhone?!