My children have met spinning media. I play games with them on my c64, so they know what floppy drives are. I play vinyl records for them. They have a small DVD collection of movies. Tonight we took apart a couple hard drives so I could show them the insides. They enjoy using screwdrivers.
First up was a full-height 1.6GB Seagate PA4E1B 5.25″ drive. We weren’t able to get the lid off, but they could see the drive arms and all the platters. Ten of them. Eighteen heads on the arm. (Later, with a hammer and screwdriver, I was able to get the lid off.)
We then moved to a 3.5″ 52MB Quantum Prodrive 52S. When the top of the drive came off, my daughter recognized the configuration of the head and arm over the platter. “It looks like a record,” she said. Two heads, and an optical detector for the tracks, rather than using servo tracks. I now wish I had fired it up and listened to it before disassembly, as I suspect it may have had a unique sound.
The largest drives I have now in my home datacenter are 3TB. MicroSD cards sold at the checkout lanes at my local supermarket can hold more data than the drives we disassembled in a fraction of the physical space, with orders of magnitude less power consumption. SSDs are catching up to spinning rust in capacity, and Intel’s recently announced non-volatile memory pushes densities even higher. It’s possible my kids will never have to delete data in their adult lives — data would get marked as trash, but would still technically available for retrieval “just in case” because the cost savings of actually reclaiming the space used by data will be negligible.
I had a Xerox 820-II CP/M machine with 8″ floppies that stored close to 1MB of data. My family had a PC with a 30MB hard drive, and I remember being in awe in the early 90s thinking about 1GB hard drives that cost around $1k. I bought a 179MB drive in high school with stipend money, and scrounged drives of various sizes throughout college. I don’t remember the first drive > 1GB that I owned — very few have survived. I vaguely recall a jump from hundreds of MB to tens of GB that happened in the early 2000s. All spinning media.
All slowly succumbing to mechanical wear-out, or more simply, obsolescence.