Mechanical HDD celebrates its 55th birthday

By on September 19, 2011
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The first HDD held a mind-blowing 5MB of data!

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This weekend marked the 55th anniversary of the IBM 305 RAMAC, the first ever mechanical hard rive to be created. Before the release of the 305 RAMAC in 1956, computers read data in a sequential order on punch cards; the idea of having data accessible at any time via magnetic storage was revolutionary.

The 305 RAMAC looked like a futuristic jukebox at the time, featuring 50 platters, each one being 24 inches in diameter, with a random seek time of 600ms for the 5MB of data. The 305 RAMAC cost $38,400 to lease every year. The latest hard drive by Seagate holds 4TB of data and is available for $250. In 55 years the largest capacity hard drive on the market provides 819 times more data than the first one, and costs almost 154 times cheaper. While things have surely changed a lot over the decades, the future of hard drive looks to be stepping away from this mechanical structure.

MicroSD cards smaller than your finger nails can hold up to 32GB, and Solid State Drives provide extremely fast transfer rates compared to traditional hard drives, with a lot less power consumption and heat generation. Obviously these new storage solutions come at a pretty high cost, but in time these too will become cheap. In the next 55 years though, we may well be seeing storage in data crystals.


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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

Comments
  • Mohammad

    you mean 819,000 times

  • Ian@STX

    Fascinating article but you need to revise your maths; 4TB is 4,000,000MB! So today’s 4TB Seagate GoFlex Desk actually has 800,000 times more storage capacity that the RAMAC.

  • Ian@STX

    Fascinating article but you need to revise your maths; 4TB is 4,000,000MB! So today’s 4TB Seagate GoFlex Desk actually has 800,000 times more storage capacity that the RAMAC.

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