Seagate has come a long way in the data storage business, from its 5MB ST506 hard drive in 1979 to its latest 1TB Barracuda introduced last year. And today the company announced that it is the first manufacturer to ship 1 billion hard drives.
If you can't visualize that many storage devices, picture this: You can circle the globe 13.7 times with the 1 billion hard drives placed end-to-end, according to Seagate.
Not all of them bear the Seagate brand. The number also includes the ones manufactured by Conner, which merged with Seagate in 1996, as well as those from Maxtor, which was acquired in December 2005.
More noteworthy, however, are some of the other statistics behind the accomplishment. For example, the first 5MB drive--the Seagate ST506--weighs a hefty 5 pounds and cost $1,500 when it debuted in 1980. A 3.5-inch 1TB drive today, which has 200,000 times more capacity, retails at only a fraction of that cost.
Another interesting fact: It took Seagate 17 years to ship the first 100 million drives, but only 12 years to make the next 900 million.
What's scary is that Seagate expects to hit the 2 billion milestone within the next 5 years, based on current increases in production capacity and demand. That looks like a very possible scenario, considering the amount of data we guzzle daily with no signs of slowing down.
At its press event, Seagate also did a little crystal-ball gazing, predicting that higher broadband penetration and rapid growth in digital content will increase market demand for hard drive storage by almost 80 percent by 2012. But the company has played down the impact of solid state drives (SSDs) on traditional disk-based devices, believing instead that hybrid drives will be more affordable for most consumers. The company will still be involved in the SSD business though, with its first product expected later this year.