Radical cost reductions in technology – illustration from external hard drives

Storage costs are about zero.

Got to thinking about the cost of storing data on external hard drives. Did a few calculations to look at the radical change in costs over the last few years. Used my actual purchases and listings today at Amazon. Wow.

Here are the costs per gigabyte of storage for the newer portable hard drive (2 of ‘em are about the size of a paperback book) and for the larger externally powered ones (more the size of a thick hardback):

  • $2.63 – 12-02 – larger size
  • $0.22 – 12-09 – portable
  • $0.15 – 1-11 – portable
  • $0.092 – 5-11 – portable (1tb!)
  • $0.065 – 5-11 – larger size (save 30% if you don’t mind 5x the size!)

To give proportionate descriptions, for the larger-sized, lower-cost hard drive, that is an improvement by a factor of 40 times in 8.5 years. Reversing the calculation, storage capacity for a gb is 2.5% of what it was 8 years ago.

For portable hard drives, which are easier to work with, storage cost has dropped by a factor of 2.4 in 1.4 years. Storage capacity per gb is 42% of what it cost 16 months ago.

Previously discussed the impact of cheapeners, both recently and in the 1800s.

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