I remember years ago, some years ago, when IBM spelled out IBM using Xenon atoms on a very small Nickel sheet.
That was in 1990. There is a good write up here in regards to the underlying physics involved. In 1994, IBM demonstrated high density drive heads for PC data storage. As a result, we now have those half terabyte drives for backing up our MP3 collections. Now, IBM has developed a super high capacity tape drive medium.
Most think that tape drive storage is dead. The only place we ever really see it is in old movies where refrigerator sized computers spin through reel to reel tapes that hold a few hundred megabytes of storage. Don't scoff me, but I still have an old tape drive back up at home. I think each tape is about the size of a deck of cards and holds about 400 megabytes. Pretty cool, huh?
At IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, researchers have crammed 6.67 bits per square inch onto a new tape medium developed by Fuji over in Japan. That's some fifteen times the storage that the most popular tape medium can manage today.
The new tape has a long-lasting barium ferrite crystal on the surface to help protect all of those valuable bits. Another type of reading head has been developed that helps in reducing read errors. I guess we won't be rewinding as much. There is perpendicular recording for hard drives of course, standing bits on end instead of laying them flat. But this has a higher cost per unit of data as compared to tape.
This newer storage won't be commercially available for about five years, but its storage will have increased to 8 terabytes per square inch by then. For a cartridge about half the size of a VHS tape, 8 million books could be stored. In terms of digital data, how does some 16 terabytes sound?