A 32 gigabyte memory card.
When I started as a computer person which is now roughly 25 years ago, I had a computer that I loved (an Apple IIc). It was perfect, somewhat portable (ok not portable at all – but the allure was there). It had a memory expansion slot and I filled that with 640k of memory. It was expensive (I think nearly 300 dollars almost the cost of the computer). I also upgraded my computer to the new 3.5 inch floppy. I already had a 5.25 drive so it seemed like a good way to go.
I had a word processor on a 3.5 inch floppy and other than swapping drives all the time (load the OS then load the programs)it was my first computing experience. I had a great game, Dr J vs Larry Bird that I loved. Playmaker football was a later addition (when I got my first Macintosh). I wrote poems and started a couple of different books on that computer.
Like all things it became obsolete (probably a week after I bought it). I ended up replacing the IIc with a IIgs. Eventually the IIgs became a Macintosh SE. Then a Macintosh SE-30. I moved headlong into the computer world and never looked back.
Full circle to yesterday as I grabbed one of my cameras to move pictures to a hard drive. I realized that I had more memory (in my camera at 32 gigs) than I had in my first 6 computers combined. It wasn’t until I bought my Macintosh II that I actually had a 100 meg hard drive. I didn’t have more than a gig of storage in my house until 1995. Now you can buy a terabyte drive for just over $100 bucks. A drive that is faster and more flexible than the 100 megabyte drive in my Macintosh in 1993.
I have a computer with a 256 gig SSD drive that boots before I even turn it on (just kidding). Storage, computing power and the things you can do with your computer have changed. A device that was supposed to help us reduce time has in fact done so. We’ve just found so many things we couldn’t do before that we can now do at home. Things that once were domain of the vast computer systems no one could use.
It has been an amazing ride. The cloud revolution will make even more changes.