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I want my personal server

Filed in: tech, Wed, Sep 10 2003 07:34 PT

I’m going to do some Moore’s Law-related math here. In 1993, I bought a 250MB hard drive for $250. In 2003, I bought a 250GB hard drive for $250. Hard drives have followed that curve for decades now. So, then, we’ll be looking at a 250 terabyte hard drive ten years from now, if the pattern holds.

Nathan Myhrvold said that software is a gas that expands to fill its container. The question, then, is what we’re going to do with enough disk to rip, say, every CD at Amoeba Records (that’s over 100,000 of ’em) at redbook quality, and still have enough room for a couple thousand DVDs. With that kind of storage, network bandwidth is going to have a hard time catching up to the sort of network-to-disk ratio we have today. At least, I have an easier time envisioning my friends having petabyte storage at home in 2016 than thinking about Qwest getting fiber to the curb.

So let’s say I have a mere ten terabytes of space in my pocket at any given time. I want to use my information with any computing device I choose. That is, I want my documents, my video, my content, available on any display and input device that is available. I want to go to a friend’s house, and offer to show any of my movies on their eight-foot organic LED display. I want to record massive amounts of video from my everyday life, simply because it’s cheaper and more reliable than my memory. A personal server may not be an immediate life-changing device, but I have to agree with the Intel engineers when they say that everybody is going to need one of these things.

All of this comes to mind after I ducked into a showing of Matrix Reloaded at the IMAX theater, and the manager stopped me to ask if my iPod was a recording device. No, I thought; it’s just what’s going to make the industry that supplies you rethink a whole lot of things. Recording devices may be the least of their problems.

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