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Andy Havens

I read an article awhile ago -- I think it was in "Wired" -- saying that data storage technology has actually been outstripping Moore's Law pretty significantly. I tried to find the exact article on Wired's site, but was unable to do so.

In searching around, though, I found this neat site: http://www.littletechshoppe.com/ns1625/winchest.html on the history of the cost of data storage.

Now expense does not, of course, translate directly into size. So it may take that 15-20 years to get the LOC on a key fob. What may happen more quickly, though, with the advent of high-speed, wireless Internet access being upon us, is the ability to access the entire LOC from a device the size of a key fob, even if the data isn't stored right there.

Which is, of course, kinda better. Since as soon as you put all that data on any kind of media, it's immediately out-of-date. And you can't connect with it to other libraries. Or other stuff.

Here are the related questions about connectivity, then: When is my wireless phone going to be so small that it gets worn as an ear-ring or implanted in my jawbone? When is the screen/monitor/HUD for the device going to be embedded in my glasses or something that can project an image right onto my retina? When is the speaker going to be the size of a hearing aid? When will it all be so small and cheap that the devices themselves are disposable?

Don't laugh... any of us over the age of 30 should think about how bizarre the words "disposable camera" would have sounded in 1975.


That's a great site. (The URL didn't display right in one of my browsers. Here it is again as a link.) Size and price seem so highly correlated that they are almost the same thing for storage. I too have seen articles showing the exponential drop in the price of storage has actually accelerated (to everyone's surprise), but I'd hate to base projections on that continuing. In truth, it will be a bit surprising to see the current exponential drop in price continue for 25 more years, but as I said, it's happened before.



OK, sign me up. I want the LC keyfob that seamlessly connects and updates and interacts with the mothership in DC and anywhere else I want and the monitor in my glasses (rimless, please, no thank you laser surgery) and the input device wherever and I am willing to wait 20 years, no problem. It sounds so scifi and Gibson and Stephenson seemed so out there fifteen years ago. But hey, you are giving me hope! The intellectual property battles are what we can't predict.


I put 'Library of congress size' into google and got this article.

3 years later, and $100 will get you a 4Gb stick. (The biggest flash drive is supposedly around the 1.5Tb mark - but $30k is a bit much)

$600-700 will get you a 2Tb HDD (Biggest I could find) With $1000 maybe you could manage 3Tb?

It's interesting to run into the article 3 years on and see changes in size and cost...

Right on target.

Good article

David Morton

Interesting analysis, although as always they date quickly. A 64 GB USB drive can now be got for US$ 150.
My real point though is the Library of Congress receives 22,000 new items each day and catalogs 10,000 (I just looked at their facts pages), with a total of almost 140 million items. Therefore, I suspect their growth rate is fast eough that USB drive storage technology, or anything we mere mortals can easily use, will NEVER catch up to the Library of Congress.

Walker Hall

Enjoyed the read! As early as November or December 2008, there have been occasional brief deals for 1.5TB drives as low as $125.

To the comment above mine: even if the Library of Congress is adding 32,000 new items daily, their data is still just increasing arithmetically, while computer storage is increasing exponentially. So, unless the Library of Congress begins doubling exponentially (extremely unlikely), then USB drives and EVERY digital storage device us mortals create, will DEFINITELY catch up and far surpass the Library of Congress. It's not a question of IF, but rather WHEN. It's simple math.


I just thought I'd mention I saw a TB external HDD for about $120 today and it's been roughly 3.5 years since that PB was put together for $1,000 :)

Monty Cantsin

Far too late to reasonably reply, but that won't stop me. Andy Havens, the example of imagining a disposable camera c. 1975 is not a great one as the technology for a disposable camera has been around for as long as film really - a camera just being a box with a hole in it more or less. The advent of the disposable camera was just due to the imagination of the film industry, realizing that they could reuse the chassis when the film was developed. For that matter it's pretty easy to imagine constructing a truly disposable camera for a few dollars more than the price of the film; this is not particularly a function of technology though it helps to have injection-molded plastic I guess.


"21 years before you could get it on your key fob."

The library of congress on a key fob. Has anyone thought how mind boggling this is? That's several centuries of data that can be tossed around in the palm of your hands. Out of this world lol

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