Terabytes and trillions

Remember when you marvelled at the increase in RAM when your 1kb ZX81 was replaced by your 16kb ZX Spectrum? And the additional marvelling that went on when the 64kb RAM pack was slotted into the back.

I guess by now you’re running on a machine with 40, 80, maybe even 160 gigabytes of storage. You may even have a 500Gb remote storage device to store all your music and video.

Now think about all of the files on your machine. Think of all those DLLs, the spreadsheets, the music, the documents, the videos, the oodles of space taken up by your operating system. Now right-click My Computer and hit properties to see how much space you’ve not yet touched.

Now, instead of thinking of each file as a file, think of its constituent bytes. Think of your 300K file as 300,000 bytes (or more accurately, 307,200 bytes). Think of each 4Mb music file as 4,194,304 bytes.

And now convert every byte that you see before you into an American dollar. A dollar bill, if you will.

The amount of money you’re imagining is dwarfed by the amount pledged by the G20 leaders to save the world’s economy. If you have a 80Gb hard drive, then their pledge is more than ten times the amount of money you’re imagining.

Alternatively, think about everyone in the world putting $170 into a collection box; a rather big collection box. Or think of a little over $1m being stacked on each pixel of your 1,024 x 768 screen.

The money being spoken about is astronomical. And I just can’t get my head around it.


6 Responses to “Terabytes and trillions”

  1. Rasmud on April 4th, 2009 00:12

    Now think about all of those bulls wandering around fields around the world. Ponder for a moment the CO2 they produce as flops of their effluence falls to the ground. Now imagine summing together all of the output of those bulls and wonder if their combined weight exceeds or greatly exceeds the amount of real money the G20 will insert into the economy.

  2. niknej on April 4th, 2009 07:10
  3. Dan on April 4th, 2009 22:51


    Similar to the one I linked to on my earlier post 😉


  4. AM on April 5th, 2009 21:05

    not to be a geek, but the 1kb ZX81 had a 16kb ram pack; the zx spectrum had 48kb on release.

  5. slatfatf on April 6th, 2009 14:11

    But surely you are falling into reading the trillion $s the wrong way. You treat this money as if it is taken out of the economy. You analogy of the collection box illustrates this. You only focus on what people lose and in fact they are no losing. The money does not cease to exist, they are not buying Mars and if they need the cash in the future they have to sell it. They are moving money from one position to another. What makes banking and in fact the economy work is not the amount of money but the movement. If there is not movement then there is no profit and no growth. So take a trillion and artificially start it moving. As it moves money is made, credit is given, credit is spent, goods are bought, jobs are made, people make money, money is spent and so on.

    Compare the trillion with the amount of money moved from A to B (any A to any B) in one day in the US and you will find the trillion is nothing in comparison.

    The issue is if the money is moved to the wrong place. For example, the G20 talks about moving money to developing countries that have ‘stalled’ so that they continue to buy goods and services thus improving exports. The gamble is that they do not spend that money with you. And that is what is happening. They buy back the bonds to lower debt but that money is paid to foreign 3rd parties who then may not spend it back with us.

    So lots of cash is leaving and not coming back to us. The benefactors will be big business and big bonus global orgs and their shareholders.

    Not good.

  6. slatfatf on April 6th, 2009 14:13

    I like the opening words on the other comment ‘not to be a geek, but…’. You know where that was going from the opening words. Geek.

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