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Surfin’: Going Down


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ considers the history of hardware prices. sent me a personalized e-mail today: Based on my past purchases, Amazon figured it was time for me to buy a new external hard drive. My current two year old external hard drive is a 1 TB (Terabyte) model; Amazon was trying to entice me with the 2 TB models that they sell.

After spending a small wad of dough on holiday gifts, I really was not interested in making more purchases this month, but I was curious about the price.

I opened my Web browser to visit Amazon and check their prices. Turns out I could buy a 2 TB hard drive for $100! Only two years ago, I paid over twice that for my 1 TB drive. I was a little surprised. I figured that the prices had come down on hard drives -- they always do -- but not by that much.

Then again, I always think back to my first computer upgrade, that is, when I added RAM to my Radio Shack TRS-80 computer. My first TRS-80 came with 4 kB of RAM. To upgrade to 16 kB cost a “mere” $599 (circa 1978). According to my calculations -- based on current RAM prices -- 16 kB would cost about $.0000003 today. Ouch!

For a history of RAM prices, check out Dr John C. McCallum’s Memory Prices (1957-2010). While you are in the neighborhood, also check out Dr John’s history of Disk Drive Prices (1955-2010).

As these histories demonstrate, both RAM and drive prices have trended downward, historically. What you buy today, you can buy more of tomorrow at the same price. But if you keep waiting for prices to fall and never get on the bus, you will miss the ride.

Until next time, Happy New Year and keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, usually gets on the first bus, no matter where it’s going. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.




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