By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: After 30 years in the hard disk drive business, Seagate Technology today shipped its one billionth drive. But with the rate of consumer and business data production rising dramatically, the company will take just five years to ship its next billion.

Digital cameras, mp3 players, HD video and the internet are driving consumer demand for digital storage products, and Seagate is clearly benefiting.

The Cayman Islands-based company shipped around 500 million hard disk drives last year compared with just 30 million in 1990. Revenue reached $US11.4 billion in fiscal year 2007.

Seagate today heralded shipping its milestone drive with a calculation of just how much digital data could fit onto one billion HDDs.

“Seagate has calculated that [the drives combined] could hold all of the information contained in four separate stacks of books, each one stretching from the Earth to the Sun (that’s 770,000,000,000 metres high). In more earthly terms, the available space equates to 308 billion hours of digital video or 770 billion hours of audio,” said the company.

Recent IDC research suggests the total amount of digital information stored around the world reached 45GB per person last year.