Hard Drive Cost Per Gigabyte: From 1980 to 2009

Posted in Technology
Tue, Sep 29 - 6:00 am EDT | 9 years ago by
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Remember when everything you needed fit into a bunch of nifty floppy disks? (yes, I’m that old) What about the first time you got a hard disk?

xcomp-subsystem-hard-diskMatt Komorowski was lucky enough to get his first computer during the early 1990s—which came with a 30GB hard disk—and he was ” wondering how I could possibly fill all 30 megabytes of hard drive space, even if I had a thousand years.” now we know how short-sighted that supposition was. Like Matt, I’m looking to buy a 1 terabyte hard disk soon, probably for or with my next computer, as it takes only months for me to cause low disk space warnings on a computer with a 500GB hard drive.

Fortunately, upgrading your hard drive storage capacity isn’t really an expensive proposition, as evidenced by the hard of work Komorowski. He simply plotted the prices of hard disks from 1980 to this year, creating a graph that tracked the downward progress of the dollar cost per gigabyte. The exercise revealed that “space per unit cost has doubled roughly every 14 months”, meaning Moore’s law is getting beat in the world of hard drive storage. Some highlights of Komorowski’s history:

Date Drive info Size Cost $/GB
January 1980 Morrow Systems 26MB $5,000.00 $193,000.00
March 1989 Western Digital 40MB $1,199.00 $36,000.00
February 12, 1999 Quantum 8GB $299.99 $43.10
July 24, 2009 HITACHI 0A38016 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 1TB $74.99 $0.07

Somewhere in that timeline is no doubt the $3398 10M hard disk.

$193,000 per gigabyte to 7 cents represents a cost decrease of nearly three-million percent! Yes, I may feel old thanks to the analogy that started this article, but at least I don’t have to spend too much on a 1 terabyte hard disk nowadays—even if that HITACHI hard drive currently costs $80 on NewEgg.com, not $75. Personally though, I’ll think I’ll shell out for the Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5″ SATA 3.0Gb/s. Though it’s currently more expensive at $95, I pretty much find Western Digital Drives much more reliable.


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