How things have changed – a 256GB USB stick

When I started using computers many moons ago, they didn’t even have hard drives. I had one 360KB Double Density bootup disk which I used to start the computer. I then took that one out and put my software disk in – Wordstar! If I needed to save something, I put a disk in the second drive and saved my files on it. The files had to have short names and there was a limit as to how many files you could save on it. Everything was command line from DOS. You would put a sticker over the notch on the side of the disk if you wanted them to be read-only.

The closest you got to a menu was if you created a rudimentary autoexec.bat file which gave you options you moved to using your arrow keys. Otherwise, you had to navigate to the correct directory  from the DOS command line. No plug and play for anybody in those days!


Then 720KB high density disks came out and we thought they were the biz.

After that I got a hard drive (about 8MB?) which went up to 20MB as the years passed.

Then came the smaller harder disks that in South Africa were called ‘stiffy disks’ (Once when I was teaching I left out the s in disk when I was saying ‘stiffy disks’. My students found that hilarious). These ones had a little tab that you pushed up to make them read-only


Then came CDs and then USB drives

A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my 128GB usb stick to this 256GB usb 2.0/3.0 one. It is bigger and heavier than the ones I usually buy and has a metal case but what bliss after spending my days hunting for the ones that are so small you can barely see them. And it is really fast!


And….my new MacBook has 1TB of memory!

It took me between four and five hours to move 256GB of data from my old Mac to this usb drive. And TEN MINUTES to move the same 256GB of data from the usb drive to my new Mac, which I am loving because it is so fast and the screen is fantastic and I can run so much simultaneously.

So these predictions sound very strange today:

  • I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
  • “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.” — Popular Mechanics, 1949
  • “But what…is it good for?” — Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
  • “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
  • “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Attributed to Bill Gates, 1981, but believed to be an urban legend.
  • “So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'” — Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.

The above predictions, and many more really interesting ones can be found here

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

4 thoughts

  1. We bought a second hand Macintosh Plus as our first home computer in the mid-1980s. It came with the first mouse, had a 9inch monochrome screen, and took so long to boot up I factored in making a cup of coffee during the process. It had 512k RAM, internal 400K SSDD floppy storage, and we thought we were in memory heaven because we also bought a 20mB hard drive that was about the size of 2 bricks. I don’t want to say how much it cost – considerably more than your new laptop cost you, Janet. I loved it, because it meant I could work from home and not have to queue to get time on the one work computer. I still love the little face icon when all was well. The 2 Steve’s were visionaries.

    1. My eyes watered at the price but the last one served me so well for so many years that over the years, it is well worth it. Your old soldier sounds lovely!

  2. My Psion5mx still does very nicely with just 16 Mb of memory, and I have the option of using a CF card up to 2 GB! But all of the operating system and the built in software is in that 16 Mb…. and there is still 12 Mb of free space. !

Leave a Reply