This one of several cool little documents I used when teaching math. I was also the de facto computer teacher for the middle grades and they came in handy there too. The other documents are also posted on the home page. I'm not sure where I got this but it's been very useful and I've updated it along the way. I particularly like the one where 1TB (terabyte) of information is equal to 50,000 trees worth of paper.
This page is very good for putting some perspective on computer capabilities along with binary numbers and how computers actually work. It also rolls in exponents and vocabulary, since all the prefixes are Greek or Latin. If you're wondering where those weird prefixes come from, see the Origin of units page.
This is solid (but largely forgotten) core learning that can be useful in a wide variety of subjects and settings. There are co-curricular possibilities with social studies, science and language arts. They can supplement class work or homework, especially if you are need to challenge some of your advanced students. In addition to the traditional classroom, home schools, charter schools and online education can all benefit from this kind of content. It really comes in handy.
The numbers are so big they are almost incomprehensible. When you get into the exabyte range, you're talking about the sum total of human knowledge and conversation - and yet, we are approaching the day when we will use them. Fifteen years ago, the memory on a PC was measured in KB and storage in MB. Now, PC's have GB of memory and TB storage is available (and fairly inexpensive). An I-pod stores as much as a main frame did 20 years ago. The new mainframe super-computers are now in the PB range. Who knows where it will end? Maybe a better question is "Who knows where it will lead?"
Data Powers of Ten
The following list is a collection of estimates of the quantities of data contained by various media. Each is rounded to be a power of 10 times 1, 2 or 5. The numbers quoted are approximate. All numbers represent even powers of 1000, even though a kilobyte is actually 1024 bytes not 1000 bytes, a megabyte is 1,024,000 bytes, etc. With numbers this big, the minor variances are irrelevant and it makes calculation and estimation a lot easier.
· Bytes(8 bits)
· 0.1 bytes: A binary decision
· 1 byte: A single character
· 10 bytes: A single word
· Kilobyte (KB) (1000 bytes)
· 1 Kilobyte: A very short story
· 2 Kilobytes: A Typewritten page
· 10 Kilobytes: An encyclopedic page
· 50 Kilobytes: A compressed document image page
· 100 Kilobytes: A low-resolution photograph
· 200 Kilobytes: A box of punch cards
· 500 Kilobytes: A very heavy box of punch cards
· Megabyte (MB) (1 000 000 bytes)
· 2 Megabytes: A high resolution photograph
· 5 Megabytes: The complete works of Shakespeare OR 30 seconds of TV-quality video
· 10 Megabytes: A minute of high-fidelity sound OR A digital chest X-ray
· 20 Megabytes: A box of floppy disks
· 50 Megabytes: A digital mammogram
· 200 Megabytes: A reel of 9-track tape OR An IBM 3480 cartridge tape
· 500 Megabytes: A CD-ROM
· Gigabyte (GB) (1 000 000 000 bytes)
· 1 Gigabyte: A pickup truck filled with paper OR A symphony in high-fidelity sound OR A movie at TV quality
· 2 Gigabytes: 20 yards of shelved books
· 5 Gigabytes: A DVD
· 10 Gigabytes: An 8mm Exabyte backup tape
· 20 Gigabytes: A full digitally re-mastered collection of the works of Beethoven
· 50 Gigabytes: A floor of books
· 100 Gigabytes: A floor of academic journals
· 200 Gigabytes:
· Terabyte (TB) (1 000 000 000 000 bytes)
· 1 Terabyte: All the X-ray films in a large technological hospital OR 50000 trees made into paper and printed
· 2 Terabytes: An academic research library
· 10 Terabytes: The printed collection of the US Library of Congress
· 50 Terabytes: The contents of a large Mass Storage System
· Petabyte (PB) (1 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)
· 1 Petabyte: 3 years of NASA Earth Observation Satellite data
· 2 Petabytes: All US academic research libraries
· 20 Petabytes: Production of hard-disk drives in 1995
· 200 Petabytes: All printed material
· Exabyte (EB) (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)
· 5 Exabytes: All words ever spoken by human beings.
· Zettabyte (ZB) (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)
· Yottabyte (YB) (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes)