Faster, I say. Faster!


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

Remember when CD-Rom drives had a crazy run of getting faster and faster? 2x, 6x, 16x, 32x – it just kept going. Like digital cameras when it was all about pixel resolution. Or phones today coming out every month with small improvements.

As a techy consumer, these iterations can be seriously frustrating – I’ll be hesitant to buy, ’cause what if I can get it twice as fast/high/low/cool in two months? You even get paranoid, and feel like the hardware industry is like Sergei Bubka in the 90’s, when he improved the pole-vault world record with 1 centimeter at every major event – you knew he would be able to just add 5 centimeters to it in one go, but why would he do that when every world-record earned him millions…? (He did it 31 times...)

Well, I’m sure the hardware industry is not really like that – they’re churning out these improvements as fast as they can (and faster than they should, sometimes) – but it sure is frustrating when you’re in the middle of a wave of innovation and only have the money to catch it once.

About the CD-ROM speeds: They didn’t actually improve much since the late 90’s, due to the physical nature of the CD-ROM – when spinning it much faster than 12x (12 times faster than a music CD, around 2MB/s) you started getting into trouble with heat and vibration. It didn’t stop the industry in going for 32x and even higher, but actual throughput didn’t quite follow the marketing. Then came DVD's, then USB2 - faster, faster, faster.

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I clipped those "faster" photos out & used them in a collage. Still have it.

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