I remember being one of the very first nerds to purchase the world's biggest commercially available hard drive of that day. 40 megabytes.
Before hard drives of this size we all used the ubiquitous floppy disc drive that could hold about 1.44 mB (3.5").
With this massive hard drive replacing 30 or so floppies, I was king of the bit hill. Yes, it was expensive, and yes it was big, yes it whirred and clunked, yes it was heavy and required its own case, but man, back then it felt as if I would never again be constrained by storage limitations as long as I lived.
Games, word processors, spreadsheet programs, and even Basic were all stored on that amazing piece of hardware with gobs of room to spare. What more would I ever need?
Of course you see where this is going. As computers and programs grew in complexity so too did the need to store their data: pictures, movies, recordings, webpages. Today, we don't think twice about a 1tB USB hard drive that can fit into our pocket.
To put that in perspective, a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes—and a gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes. So, I would have needed 25 of that original hard drive to make a gigabyte—25,000 of them to make a terabyte.
And relating this to HiFi, a modern DAC has millions of transistors that do the work of what once was only a single or double vacuum tube.
Though things today are easier and better, I want to keep in perspective the massive complexity required to achieve easy and better.
Yes, our HiFi systems get us closer to the illusion of music being played live in our rooms, but reflect on how much simpler it would be to simply have someone playing live.
I know it's impractical but it does give one pause.