n. 2 to the power of 90 — approximately 10 to the power of 27 — bytes, or one thousand trillion terabytes.
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Thinking about quantities such as zettabytes and brontobytes may seem very theoretical now, but … our need for increasing amounts of storage space has grown far more quickly than we ever thought it would. So while we will probably live to see the days when it is common to carry a petabyte in our pocket, our grandchildren and great-grand-children might one day be carrying around a bronto on their bionic implants.
—Bernard Marr, “Big Data: What's a Brontobyte Again?,” SmartDataCollective, February 11, 2015
Mahony also observed that the scale of data that companies parse is going to grow exponentially in the next decades, and that units like zetabytes and brontobytes will become common place [sic].
—Jeff John Roberts, “More marketers go 'Moneyball' to seek a retail edge,” Gigaom, March 20, 2014
To put things into perspective, 1 Exabyte (10^18) of data is created on the internet daily, amounting to roughly the equivalent of data in 250 million DVDs. Humankind produces in two days the same amount of data it took from the dawn of civilization until 2003 to generate, and as the Internet of Things become a reality and more physical objects become connected to the internet, we will enter the Brontobyte (10^27) Era.
—Alissa Lorentz, “With Big Data, Context is a Big Issue,” Wired, April 23, 2013
1994 (earliest)
I am looking for pointers to information sources regarding…very large databases
—Ted Stockwell, “Brontobyte databases,” comp.sys.super, August 04, 1994
The brontobyte has had various definitions over the years, not because people are inconsistent, but because it was set up that way. Specifically, when it first appeared in the language in the mid-90s, a brontobyte was defined as the next unit of measure beyond the largest that was currently recognized by the International Standards Organization. That unit is currently the yottabyte, so that's why the brontobyte is now defined as 1,024 yottabytes. Does this mean that when the ISO finally names an official unit of measure for 290 bytes, the brontobyte will get redefined as 2100 bytes? I sure hope so.

This term appears in my most recent column for IEEE Spectrum.
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