While technically paying the reparations, Germany so completely devalued its currency as to make it worthless. The man told my father that one day his mother gathered up $15 billion Deutschmarks in a white wicker basket and went off to market to buy one loaf of bread. At the bakery she sat the basket full of marks down to tie her shoe. When she looked up, a thief had just finished dumping the paper currency and was running off with the basket! The one little basket at that point was actually worth more than $15 billion Deutschmarks! Of course today the German mark is the real backbone of the Euro but that's now, not 90 years ago.
So how does this story tie in with hard drives? Over the past 15 years something has been quietly but inexorably happening in the field of data storage. Here is a quick set of facts; see if you can see the trend:
- 1993 - a 30 megabyte hard drive cost $400
- 1998 - a 150 megabyte hard drive cost $280
- 2002 - a 400 megabyte hard drive cost $210
- 2008 - a 1 terabyte hard drive cost $180
- 2012 - a 2 terabyte hard drive costs $119.99 (check out www.newegg.com)
But let's look beyond supply and demand for a second. Most of the new technology that interests us: smart phones, tablets, "thumb" drives, SAP HANA, cloud applications, etc. do not use hard drives. (Well, maybe the cloud does but you never see it). These technologies use storage that is mostly memory based, whether it be flash devices or advanced RAM (computer memory). The newest tablets and ultrathin laptops use only flash memory - otherwise they would be bulkier and use more power. Yet, compared to the speed of a hard drive these flash memory devices seem to work infinitely faster.
There has been a stopgap technology in play for about two years called the solid state drive or "SSD". These devices are shaped like hard drives but have no moving parts or spinning platters. They were a fad for a little while but are not catching on because of their expense and the general trend towards flash devices
No, dear readers, the era of the hard drive is over and done. I give it about five more years before the hard drive as we know it, with moving parts and platters, goes the way of both the dodo bird and the 8-track tape. We are moving to a new architecture for technology that will be unlike anything we could have predicted in the 1990s. There will be no place for moving parts that can break or devices that won't fit in our pockets.
To borrow shamelessly from REM: It's the end of (IT) as we know it, and I feel fine!