10 December 2008

Memory Lane

Aaaah, removable media. Is it not the ultimate storage device? Fill up one unit, pop it out and pop a new unit into the drive, then keep collecting more stuff. When I started computing in the early 1980s, 5.25" floppy diskettes, like that black one on the foreground, were still in use. They may have been 360K in size, but with some mutilation can go up to 720K. High density version was available, too, with a whopping size of 1.2 MB! Still the HD 5.25" couldn't fight off the rising star of the time, the 3.5" diskette, with a top size of 1.4 MB. Soon 1.4 MB was not enough and we saw the arrival of the Iomega Bernoulli and SyQuest cartridges. One regret I have about cleaning up my junk collection is a 10-MB Bernoulli cartridge. It was the size of a college notebook! I threw it out when I moved from one house to another years ago. I cannot remember the size of the Bernoulli that was battling with the SyQuest. Knowing it that competing products usually outdo their competitor just slightly, I am sure it was probably somewhere less than 88 MB. I know for a fact Bernoulli came out with a 150-MB 3.5" cartridge at one point in time.

Almost out of nowhere, Iomega upped the ante with the Zip drive, at 100 MB and in the 3.5" form factor. It was wildly successful and rang the death knell for SyQuest. In the picture, laying atop a SyQuest 88 case and in front of the Jaz cartridge is a 135-MB 3.5" SyQuest cartridge. It's a case of being late to the market. Iomega even has the 1-GB Jaz, later upgraded to 2 GB. For my Wall Street PowerBook, I got an Imation SuperDisk with capacity of 120 MB. Remember what I said about edging out the competition just a little? 120 MB, just 20 MB over the popular Zip 100. The SuperDisk drive could also read 3.5" floppy disk, but again Imation was late to the booming removable hard drive scene and joined other companies as losers to Iomega.

The problem with removable hard drive is that you need the drives to use them. You need some other physical device that has to be hooked up to the computer(s) in order to use the cartridges/disc/disk. I used to have to carry an Iomega USB drive back and forth between the office and home. Some time I would remember to bring everything, other times I would forget the power cable for the drive, or the USB cable for the device. Too much hassle!

Nowadays, the de facto removable media is the flash drive. Some are shown in the picture: the blue Fuji 128 MB thumb drive in the upper right corner; the white Kingston 2-GB drive on the left (on top of the Zip 250), and some black x-MB drive that someone gave my wife a bunch of songs on. Yup, the price has come down so much, people treat these things as disposable. I probably paid $50 for the 128-MB thumb drive way back when. These days you can buy a spindle of blank DVDs and get a 512-MB flash drive for free!

Also included in the photos, all atop the 3M box, are a bunch of memory cards. From my older Kodak camera we have the 128-MB SanDisk CompactFlash. Lying in its white plastic case is the 2-GB SD card for my newer Kodak camera. Last but not least, is the tiny 2-GB Kingston microSD card for my son's Nintendo DS.

Money probably cannot buy you happiness, but it sure can get you lots of removable storage.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Thank you for the trip down "Memory" lane... I used to want a zip drive so bad, but I was too poor for such extravigances.. On a side note, I just finished an Uber boring security class and we discussed how hackers leave flash drives on a picnic table, people pick them up and right away put it in their pc. So think about that next time you see a "lost" flash drive.. you could be introducing a virus or somthing.. Just like the women I used to pick up, you never know were they have been! Just kidding.. har har har!

    -Lone Gunman