Co-op student Matt and a CDEvery home soon faces the problem of overstuffed closets. But an even bigger problem than storing clothes and collectibles is storing data.

As computer power improves, doubling as it does approximately every eighteen months, the humble floppy disk has become completely inadequate. A few years ago most of us would have been happy to keep printed photographs in an album. But now-a-days it is not unusual to put all the family snapshots on a CD. These portable disks carry about two hundred times as much data as the old floppy disk. Optically based drives, such as DVD’s, can carry the equivalent of over thirty hours of VHS quality video or as much information as a moving van full of paper.

However, replacements for the CD and DVD are already underway. Fluorescent multi-layered disks will smash the existing capacity barriers. Holographic storage, which is on the verge of commercial availability, will give us ten times faster data access and enough capacity to store all the X-rays in a major hospital–all this on a chunk of plastic the size of a sugar cube! But again, sometime in the future, even this will seem inadequate, and molecules will be used to make the ultimate storage devices. They have the potential to store several billion trillion times the amount of information on a DVD!

So next time you face an overstuffed closet be thankful that at least data storage is being controlled with rapidly developing technology.