As we left the analysis area and concluded our tour of San Jose 2, I happened to glance down at a white bucket in the hallway. You can see its contents—dozens of broken and discarded media platters. I should have grabbed a few as souvenirs. The bucket spoke to me, saying, “you have to break a few hundred thousand eggs to make a mass storage omelet.” Or something like that. In any case, the clear message that emerged from my Media Operations tour was that there is a vast amount of trial and error, analysis and reanalysis, production and refinement, that goes into every little step in disk design. I’m not exactly sure what I had thought the process entailed before this day. It might only take one engineer to screw in a lightbulb, but apparently it takes hundreds of them spread across an immense acreage of ultra-modern machinery and facilities to keep designing better light bulbs. We go to Best Buy or Newegg and pay our $100 or $200 for another terabyte or so to hold our files, never giving a thought to the immense effort and expense that went into making all of that capacity so affordable.
The scary thing was that I wasn’t even half-way into my tour.