as quantity of storage. As of ;;;; businesses could lease high-speed
lines carrying data as fast as ;;; kilobits per second. Following
the lead of IBM, whose hardware typically processed information
in chunks of eight bits, engineers soon adopted the modern and
slightly whimsical unit, the byte. Bits and bytes. A kilobyte, then,
represented ;,;;; bits; a megabyte (following hard upon), ; million. In the order of things as worked out by international standards
committees, mega- led to giga-, tera-, peta-, and exa-, drawn from
Greek, though with less and less linguistic ;delity. ;at was enough,
for everything measured, until ;;;;, when the need was seen for the
zettabyte (;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;) and the inadvertently
comic-sounding yottabyte (;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;,;;;). In
this climb up the exponential ladder, information left other gauges
One unit of the Cray- 3 supercomputer sold for $30 million in 1993. It had
roughly the same amount of memory as a modern $500 laptop.
behind. Money, for example, is scarce by comparison.
After kilobucks, there were megabucks and gigabucks, and people
can joke about in;ation leading to terabucks, but all the wealth amassed
by all the generations of humanity does not amount to a petabuck.
;e ;;;;s were the decade of megabytes. In the summer of ;;;;,
IBM introduced two new computer models with more memory
than ever before: the Model ;;;, with ;;;,;;; bytes of memory, and
the larger Model ;;;, with a full megabyte, in a large cabinet. One of
these room-;lling mainframes could be purchased for ;;,;;;,;;;.