the dog ate my USB stick

Back when I was a kid (don’t ask how long ago that was) the common joke at school was ‘the dog ate my homework (peas, socks, whatever).  Well, this past week, the dog (curiously named Chance) did eat my homework – in the form of a USB memory stick.  Now this was a 4gb stick and it had lots of information on it.  That started me thinking about how much information we have to store these days AND how our storage capabilities have changed over the years.

The earliest magnetic storage in 1890 was on a wire that moved quickly past the recording head at about 30 inches per second.  That system had a fidelity roughly equivalent to a 78 rpm record (ask your grandparents).   Earliest video recording was pioneered by scientists and artists working for Bing Crosby (the singer) and in 1951 they demonstrated a workable system.  That system recorded barely distinguishable video on tape that moved at 360 inches per second – roughly 20 miles per hour.

At the same time, computer data was just started to be recorded on magnetic tape and could record 128 computer characters on one inch of tape.

Fast forward to today.  My 4gb memory stick will hold thousands of quality pictures,  30 minutes of quality video, all in a device small enough to easily fit in my dog’s mouth.

My point?  As knowledge increases we continue to find ways of storing it and we need to deal with it.

I am amazed at my reaction when I found 4 gb in Chance’s mouth.  I was fear struck that I had lost backups of data.  Now that hard disk storage can economically exceed one terabyte, what are you and I doing to protect our data from the next attack from fido?

Are you taking a Chance with your data?  I would venture to say the answer is “yes”.

For we tekkies, here are some of the numbers:

  • Hard disks stored data at about 2,000 bit/in² in 1955 and 421 Gbit/in² today.
  • Today’s Blu-ray DVD stores data at 250 Gbit/in² with a theoretical possibility of 3 Exabytes/in² .

Some links:

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