I Just Bought Storage at $500/GB and Other Musings

(Revised: Math Error at the End Fixed.)

With a 1 GB flash card costing ~$5, how in the world did I end up buying storage today at price of $500/GB?

The answer: I had to buy 3.5″ floppy disks. A pack of 10 cost me $7 and holds 1.4 MB x 10 = 14 MB. If I did the math right, that’s $500/GB, about 100x what it would cost as flash memory. (Frankly, I was happy to pay it because Symantec PartitionMagic required the creation of “rescue” floppies, which had to be floppes.) Office Depot had exactly 1 SKU, the ten-pack.

A funny thing happened while I was at the store. A woman said “Sir, do you know anything about memory?” I always wonder why I’m mistaken for retail clerks. Do I look smart or helpful? Or, perhaps I need to upgrade my weekend wardrobe from Cabela’s to Faconnable?

Now, what I am supposed to say, “Ma’am, I’m CEO of a software company; I don’t do hardware.” No, that won’t do. What I say, of course, is “yes.”

“How many gigabytes should I buy (on a memory card) to hold a 200-page document? My daughter thinks I need 32?” she asks. My reactions are first that you should be questioning me in megabytes, not gigabytes, and second how we’ve completely lost touch with how big things are.

“No embedded images or figures,” I asked. “Just text?”


I told her 1 GB should do fine. While the link above suggests a whole novel can fit in one megabyte, that strikes me as tight. Perhaps that’s true for the .TXT version of it, but what would it be in Word, I wondered. So I quickly lorem ipsum’ed up a 200-page Word document to find out.

The answer: it contained 690K characters including spaces, and the Word file was 804K. She could have put it more than 36,000 times on a 32 GB card.

If you’re interested overall in the costs of storage over time, check out this page, which has a great history from 1956 ($10M/GB) through to 2004 ($1/GB).

17 responses to “I Just Bought Storage at $500/GB and Other Musings

  1. Not sure how you came up with the more than 360 times (which is correct), but shouldn't it read more than 36,000 times?GB > MB > KB :)32 GB vs. 840 KB

  2. I think you mean 40,000 times, not 360 times.

  3. "it contained 690K characters including spaces and the Word file was 804K. She could put it more than 360 times on a 32 GB card."Apologies for being pedantic, but you can store over 35,000 copies of that 200 page document on a 32 GB card.

  4. Only 360 times? I got somewhere closer to 42,000 times. 360 * 806K = 280MB

  5. You forgot the essential part: WHY did you need floppy disks? I'm curious.

  6. 360 times? I think you slipped a decimal place. More like 3600.

  7. Oops. I slipped a decimal myself. I get 39,800 copies of a 804MB document.

  8. I can't believe I did it again. I meant 804KB, not MB.

  9. I think that should read "She could put it more than 36,000 times on a 32 GB card."

  10. "it contained 690K characters including spaces and the Word file was 804K. She could put it more than 360 times on a 32 GB card."Are you sure about that?I make 1GB = 1,000MB, 32GB = 32,000MB.I make that nearly FORTY THOUSAND copies of that 804Kb, 200 page document fitting on a 32GB drive.

  11. Thank you to everyone for catching and fixing my math error. (Tells you something about my audience, doesn't it?)As a completely lame defense, I suppose I could argue that 36,000 is "more than" 360, but I think I'll avoid going there.I've revised the post.

  12. Why did I need to buy floppies? Good question. Our primary home PC, a Sony Vaio, which we bought some years ago come with 100 GB hard drive. However, for some insane and most likely self-serving reason (e.g., standardization) Sony partitioned the drive a 15 GB to C: and 85 GB to D:. While I moved her email files and the iTunes files over to the D: drive, the C: kept running at about 85% full. Hence, we had a highly fragmented C: drive and an empty D:. Sometimes it would fill up all the way. It was a nightmare.I wanted to repartition and everyone I spoke with warned me that it can be very dangerous. Nevertheless I purchased Symantec Partition Magic to do the job. When running the software it said it was "highly recommended" to make "rescue floppies." First I tried to fool the software into thinking a USB stick was a floppy. But that didn't work.So I drove over to Home Depot and bought some floppies, since (not shockingly) I had none in the house.

  13. By the way, I assume everyone can see irony in a math mistake in a post about people mixing up how bigs things are. :-)

  14. Be careful with Partition Magic! I lost a lot of good files that way a few years ago, and about 3 days of my time. If there's anything you really want to keep, back it up first, even with rescue disks. I have a box of 10 floppies as well. Not sure what to do with the rest of them :)

  15. These days, I thought you were just supposed to junk your computer and buy a new one when the memory was full? :-)

  16. lol that is just too expensive for storage device.

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