Storage

A brief history of hard drives

What high-tech product advances the fastest? It's probably the hard drive. The capacity doubles easily every two years and sometimes every year, faster even than the chip progress described by Moore's Law. The first drives took up storage closets. Now, a 5GB drive can fit in a phone. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which has made drives for years and also now owns IBM's drive division, recently collected pictures from hard drive history and made a calendar. Here are some highlights.

The IBM System 305, the world's first computer with a hard drive, debuted in 1956 and relied on the random access method of accounting and control (RAMAC) to store data. This is a side view. The entire device required 50 24-inch diameter platters coated with iron oxide paint mounted on a rotating spindle. It held 5MB, or about 1/100th of the amount in flash cards for cameras today.

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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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