The Price of Memory

I bought one of these last week – a 2gb memory stick. Yes, I know that it has “Go England” written on the side but that will scratch off in time and I will lose the top but it will still hold 2gb.
At this point you are no doubt wondering why you should care about this – everyone’s got one of these right? In fact if you are like me you will have several. Well at about the same time as I bought it my Dad also found five volumes of “Your Computer” magazine in the loft.

Your Computer was one of the first consumer computing magazines – the first issue was June 1981, so some 25 years ago, and it appears that I was an avid collector. What’s interesting is to see how computing has changed in what is a relatively short space of time and, in particular, the price of memory.

Featured in this first issue of Your Computer was an advert for the then new ZX81 and the “massive” 16k RAM pack add-on which you could purchase for the very reasonable £50.

I paid £25 for the 2gb memory stick, so the cost per gigabyte in 2006 is, approximately:

£12.50 Using the price that Sinclair were selling the RAM pack for in 1981 it is possible to calculate the price per gigabyte and it’s a very reasonable:

£3,276,800.00 And that’s before you take into account inflation. When you do that the cost is an eye watering:

£8,412,665.77 Ouch! Today memory is such a commodity that I think nothing of putting a 1gb mini-SD card in my phone and have another 2gb in my PSP – memory is just not an issue. In 1981 it was a precious resource and it was simply amazing just what could be achieved in 1k, let alone 16k.

For a brief period many kids of my age could program and could do so in a small amount of memory – today at school IT lessons don’t cover programming but concentrate on use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and nobody worries about just how much memory they are going to use. I for one think that’s a great shame.

Oh well as they say Hey, Hey, 16k.

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