System Profiler tells me that my hard drive is made by Hitachi, a century-old Japanese company, and has the model number HTS545032B9SA02. This raises an important question: how much information does the serial number need to encode? 11 digits seems a bit excessive, don't you think? We are very curious about what all the numbers mean.
Perhaps they'd help us track down the exact factory (or even the exact portion of the factory?) where the hard drive was built, though in the end that level of sleuthing turned out to be unnecessary. Plugging that model number into Google brought me to an eBay auction that helpfully includes a photo of the hard drive, complete with legible label that informs me that the drive was made in Thailand. I'm going to go ahead and assume the one in my computer's guts has the same provenance, since my IT department would probably not appreciate my poking around inside my laptop just for curiosity (or even research).
A lot of hard drive manufacturing from a slew of companies has moved to Thailand in the past few years, in one of those odd quirks of global capitalist specialization. One upshot of this is that last year's devastating floods in the country, which have affected Hitachi among other companies, have resulted in a global hard drive shortage.