Born Digital: From Kilobytes to Terabytes Virtual Exhibit Walk-through: Storage(Case 2)

Project Digital ArchivistBrenna Edwards

Hello, and welcome to week 2 of our Virtual Exhibit Walkthrough! Due to COVID-19 and Rose Library being closed, we’ve decided to do a virtual walk-through of our current exhibit, Born Digital: From Kilobytes to Terabytes

 For a more in-depth tour, see below for upclose photographs and exhibit text. Be sure to click through photographs of each case to view the entire thing!  


Case 2: Storage

Case 2 introductory panel on born digital storage and how it’s grown, along with file types.

Storage: As storage for born digital materials has evolved, so has the different file formats found on them. This WinDirStat image shows all the different types of files found on a hard drive in our collections. Each color represents a grouping of similar file formats (documents, photographs, videos, etc.), and the size of each square shows how many there are in relation to the other types. Can you guess what type is taking up the most space?  



Answer: text documents (.txt, .doc, .docx, etc.)  

Left view of the case with the Growing Bigger panel below.

Front view of the case, representing how while electronic storage has gotten bigger, the physical storage has gotten smaller.

Front view of the case with an explanation of white cubes representing the amount of data each device can hold.


Right view of the case showing the tiers and information about how data storage has evolved.

Growing Bigger: As people started to work more with computers, storage became an issue. Where could they keep their documents once the computer was turned off? Floppy disks, produced starting in the 1970s, were the most popular storage format for decades. Each 3.5” floppy held only 1.4 megabytes but could be installed sequentially to form entire operating systems.   

Data storage has evolved: from 8-inch floppy disks in 1971 holding only 80 kilobytes of information (think a very tiny text document) to SD cards and flash drives holding up to 1 terabyte of information today. Over four decades, technology has made it possible to store more data in smaller and smaller physical spaces.  

 “A CD. How quaint. We have these in museums.” ― Eoin Colfer, The Eternity Code 

 Collections in this case:  

Thank you for visiting the exhibit via our virtual tour! Walkthrough the tour with us every Monday in April! See you next week when we will explore Case 3: The Future/Where We’re Going.