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Author Scary Devil Monastery
Created:  2000-03-16
Last changed:  2002-09-24
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Never underestimate the bandwidth....

There is a common quote of "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes" which probably originated from Dennis Ritchie.

Here Rik Steenwinkel tells the story as he was told it. Its quite possible that this is an urban legend however.

The quote, or rather story, as I first heard it, was related to the development of the first modems, at $EDU. @BOFFIN, having completed the not all that fast prototypes[1], and demoing them, were countered by someone from Operations, who claimed he could do it Faster&Cheaper. When queried about the technical details, he disclosed that it would involve a stationwagon and a crate of magtapes. Whether it actually happened or not I don't know. It has a marked afu-level, being a nice story to spin around that quote.

The discussion then meandered on, as it is wont to do in the Scary Devil Monastery, to the discussion of the updated version of the quote... "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a 747 filled with DVDs".

The following was written by Simes during this thread:

You could just optimize things a little bit and reduce the bandwidth by installing a number of tape silos, robots, controlling stuff and a nice fast network.

You'd then have the situation where the 747 (better still, a Galaxy C5) would land, roll to a stop and have someone plug several network wirings into it. If you did things right you could get a reasonable data rate from it. The same could also be true for the car versions of this as well... except in those cases you fill it up with a load of high capacity disks (say those new 75Gb ones IBM have just announced) made as one big fsck-off RAID array (perhaps with more than just striping on it so you avoid fsck-off big fscks ;) with a small controlling system.

I can see it now.... a dust cloud is on the horizon, getting closer to the company building... after a time a small black dot can be seen at the base of the cloud, turning into a Volvo at speed as it gets closer. It eventually reaches the building where it stops and its boot is opened so that the waiting people can plug power and ethernet into the gaggle of disks to download the delivered packet.

I now I have this image in my mind of the above crossed other with the road movies like Mad Max et al.... of the Volvo being persued by gangs of bikers and dune buggies shouting, jeering, firing crossbows and chanting "It may have porn! It may have porn! It may...." with the people in the Volvo firing back and shouting "Its not porn - its this month's accounts - now bugger off".

[1] Can't recall if the story actually told what speed they ran at, but I'd guess that even 110bd would have been fast, back then.

Date posted: 16th March 2000

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Author Scary Devil Monastery
Created:  2000-03-16
Last changed:  2002-09-24
 
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