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URs Holzlz - G+ Profile Image

At a Memorial Day barbeque over the weekend, I found myself sequestered in a corner of a friend’s yard with a mutually nerdy acquaintance talking about memory – both human and digital. The question was, “How much memory does the human brain possess – in bytes?” We theorized, but neither we, nor anyone else, it seems, has an answer.

While the human brain and its capacity is still largely a mystery, Google engineer Urs Holzle posted an interesting factoid about digital memory from his Google+ account over the weekend:

“59 years ago, in March 1953, the world had a grand total of 53 kilobytes of RAM spread over a dozen or so computers, the largest having 5KB. That’s not enough RAM to store a single icon…

For comparison, today the DRAM market produces around 40 billion billion bits per year. In other words, each second we produce about 25 million times as much memory as the world had in all of 1953.”

Those types of numbers are difficult to digest, but the advancement in memory and computing capabilities even over the past could of decades is remarkable. Moving forward, I would imagine not only the memory available will continue to rise, but the way we access it will continue to develop, as well – from sub-pint-sized memory sticks to consumer cloud storage by the gigabyte.