The 2007 Nobel prize in Physics has been awarded to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg for independently discovering Giant Magnetoresistance in 1988. Their work had a tremendous impact on the computer industry as it revolutionized the way we could store and retrieve information on hard disks. It was the first major application of nanotechnology and allowed hard disks to shrink from the size of a large washing machine to the device that fits in an mp3 player.
There are two fascinating compilations on the nobelprize website that accompany the prize: a high level article titled “Information for the public” and a more detailed “Scientific Background on The Discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance”. Both are highly recommended readings.