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Today, hard disk space and memory are just two of the many things we take for granted in the world of technology. Computers are fitted with drives that can hold terabytes upon terabytes of data. And we can never get enough memory — why live with just 4 gigabytes of RAM when you can have 32 gigabytes? It didn’t use to be like this though. The following vintage advertisements will make you wonder who on earth would have been able to afford a computer.

This is one of the more recent ads, printed in 1984. 10 megabytes for a special sale price of $945. That’s $94.5 per megabyte if you can’t do the math.

vintage ads

In 1980, a 10 megabyte hard disk would cost $3,495. What a bargain!

vintage ads

A 10 megabyte hard disk from Morrow Designs retailed for $3,695. Want a 26 megabyte hard disk instead? That’ll be $4,995.

vintage hard drive ads

The hard disk you’be been waiting for. Not anymore.

vintage hard drive ads

Here’s a 15 MB hard disk, and at $2,495 it seems like good value too.

vintage hard drive ads

Would you fork out $4,999 for 18 MB?

vintage computer ads

Don’t even bother if you’re not filthy rich. $12K for 80 MB.

vintage computer ads

No idea how much this 80 MB Seagate hard disk cost but it’s a Seagate. So, no thanks.

vintage computer ads

Now, we turn to memory. Would you be able to afford 16 KB of memory for $495? Plus, I didn’t realise memory needed burning in. Interesting.

vintage pc ads

When you have to pay $1,495 for 64 KB of memory, cost effective it is not.

vintage pc ads

Bonus: The industry’s most advanced 100/200 megabyte disk drive. The thing looks like a washing machine.

vintage ads

  1. KannaChan
    July 10, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I have a feeling people back then would be mind-boggled if someone from today took a terabyte computer back to the past and showed them.

  2. Erlis D
    October 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    To think how the world of technology has changed for such a short amount of time. Am glad that the prices have gone down so much, even though I would like to gave such an old hard disk... So, my question is: Where can I find one like 10 megabyte hard disk from Morrow Designs, for example? :P

  3. Steve M
    July 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    These ads seem to bring out the nostalgia in all of us "old" duffers. I remember my first real computer was a PC running at 7Mhz that I overclocked to run at 9Mhz. It had dual 5 1/4" floppies (that alone took up over 6-INCHES of vertical space in my full sized case). I opted for the latest and greatest of everything including a newly released 1200-baud U.S. Robotics modem, a 10-Meg Winchester hard drive, a top-drawer EGA card/monitor with 16 beautiful (but jaggy) colors, and a full Meg of RAM (supplied by four 256K RAM boards). This beautiful beast ran MS-DOS 2.0 and was so slow I would fire it up in the morning and then go make my coffee, get a Danish, and eat it before the damn thing would finish booting up. I had the 'puter built by a computer engineer friend at parts cost and it still cost me almost $2600--not counting the $600+ that I spent for a totally cool and cutting edge 18-pin COLOR ALPS dot matrix printer. I'd owned the system for a few months when I saw an ad for a "big-box" computer store's grand opening special for 1-Meg RAM chips for the low-low-LOW price of just $150 each. My brother and I waited in line for hours for the "privilege" of plunking down $600 bucks for 4 VERY slow Megs of RAM. We each bought the store's limit of four each.
    I still vividly remember the awe I felt when I ran my first BASIC program on the machine and it ACTUALLY worked!

  4. Oscar Aguirre
    June 26, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    My first PC: Columbia Printaform, 128K, 2 floppy drives with 320K, monitor 9 inches, MS-DOS 1.25, Perfect Writer, Perfect Calc, Basic interpreter, Price: $2,995 dlls...

  5. null
    June 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Try making a laptop with those hard-drives.....

  6. Ashish C
    June 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I still have my 64 Mb pendrove which i bought in the 90's :D
    Any antique collector ready to buy it ?? :P

  7. Shmuel Mendelsohn
    June 24, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    For me this is a walk down memory lane - for most of the youngsters out there it must be just plain strange!

  8. curts
    June 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Wish you had included the year for each of these advertisements to provide additional context. My last freelance job in 1983 before starting university involved an IBM PC with a 20 MB double height 3.5" hdd for a database application.

    I bought my 48K RAM Apple ][+ in Nov. 1982. The first upgrade was a printer card and 8-pin dot matrix printer for word processing. About a year later, the next upgrades were the 16K RAM Language Card so I could run Apple Pascal and an 80-col. video card. The last upgrade in 1993 was a used SCSI card which I first connected to a used 46 MB 3.5" drive and two years later a new 100 MB Zip Drive (for backups). The Raspberry Pi is a mind-boggling value in comparison!

    • Jackson Chung
      June 25, 2013 at 12:01 am

      I wish I could too, but it's a heck of a lot of investigation. Definitely out of my pay grade.

  9. Onaje Asheber
    June 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Wow! I did not get into computers deeply until mid 90's.

  10. Jaypee Cruz
    June 23, 2013 at 5:30 am

    i'd remembered i'm not capable of buying such expensive things back then ahaha.. .. the future is cheaper really .. . lol

  11. Leland Whitlock
    June 23, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Yes, prices certainly have gone down. I remember my first hard disk was a 20MB Seagate. Then I bought a 100MB drive for $400 a few years later. It was state of the art at the time. I was using an Amiga computer at the time. Nothing was inexpensive at that time. Yet those computers lasted me years longer than the ones produced today unless I custom build it myself that is. Still when you consider I can get a 2TB drive for less than I bought that 100MB drive for it is quite an amazing change for the better...

  12. Judith
    June 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    To think my first Compac was a 486/13GB unit that I paid $3200.00 for. I would absolutely die to pay that today. Is there even and OS that takes up less than 13GB?
    I cringe each time I think of it. I did love Windows 95 though....LOL.
    I can just imagine kids today having to use one of those on dial up......oh my goodness.

  13. Chris Jones
    June 22, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    We could not have gotten here without going through there. It was an absolutely necessary step in the forward march of progress.

    Robert Frost: "The best way out is always through."

    In the early '80s my company made modems for bank networks. The rule of thumb was "a buck a bit." Want to go 9600 bps? That'll be $10K. Per end. Fairly easily justified economically on the basis of eliminating payroll at bank branches, etc.

    It's easy to look backward and learn nothing from it. The question we should be asking is, "What technological dependencies do we have now, that later will appear to have been extravagant excesses?" I mean...$1300 to travel to China? In 12 hours? While spewing emissions everywhere to do it? Wow. Those sure weren't the "good old days."

  14. kashif faridi
    June 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    what the ..omg so true !!

  15. macwitty
    June 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    My first Mac a Mac plus did not even have a hard drive ;) .

  16. maine_doug
    June 22, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Now thumb drive storage for about a dollar a Gigabyte.

  17. ReadandShare
    June 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    10 MB? To put it in perspective, the entire DOS OS came in a 160K diskette. Ditto for Lotus 123 spreadsheet, Wordstar writer, and DBase.

    • Chris
      June 21, 2013 at 11:41 pm

      This is the thing. It's all very well mocking 10mb for thousands of dollars, but in those days entire operating systems took up less space than notepad.exe does these days.

      And in 50 years when we all have petabyte and exabyte storage we'll look at the ads of 2013 and sneer at those people with their measly 1tb drive.

  18. Jed
    June 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    "Yes, but who's actually going to USE 10 MB?" The other day I was asked why I'm still using a 500GB external and I shrugged and said "What would I do with a Terabyte drive?" ... So I guess I kinda see myself in this post :D

    • Robert
      June 22, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      I'm still using my 500GB external since it's only a few years old and that bitch ain't full yet! LOL

  19. Alex Downs
    June 21, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    80MB! Game changer folks; the future is here! And only for 12K: sold!

  20. shafk
    June 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Damn! Those were the days!

  21. Mauricio A
    June 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    How have times changed, THANK GOD!!! Cheaper and beneficial to our wallets

  22. ReadandShare
    June 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! My IBM PC -- dual floppy -- is still sitting quietly in my garage. It even has a 10MB hard card added in -- proto SSD!! Color monitor and all, this thing sold easily for $6,000+ back in the '80s! Anyone interested? Haha...

    A bit more recently... I remember when flash drive hit the amazing 1GB capacity -- and sold for "just" $109.99.

  23. Max
    June 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Ha ha! Thanks for this MUO!

  24. dragonmouth
    June 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    In 1980 I purchased an Apple II+, 5.25" 143Kb diskette drive and a Zenith green/black monochrome monitor for the paltry some of $2522, Tax included. A 5mb Winchester drive would have set me back another $2495. Needless to say I passed on the hard drive.

    If you wanted to increase the amount of memory, you had to buy in groups of 8 chips which you then lovingly and carefully inserted into sockets on the motherboard.

    In the late 1970s, attached to our mainframe we used washing machine sized drives with removable disk packs. Each disk pack was 29 Mb on 11 dual-sided 14" platters. You could almost see each individual byte of storage. Talk about low recording density! The drives had to be bolted to the floor because when we ran a sort, the read/write head movement was so violent that it caused the drive to "walk" around.

    Memory for that mainframe came on a 11"x14" circuit board populated with 64 1 kb chips. I don't remember what that 64k of memory cost our company but it certainly was more than the $1495 Extensys memory.

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