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Data Storage Hardware

The 305 RAMAC — First Commercial Hard Drive 244

Captain DaFt writes "Snopes.com has an article that gives an interesting look back at the first commercial hard drive, the IBM 350. Twice as big as a refrigerator and weighing in at a ton, it packed a whopping 4.4MB! Compare that to the 1-4GB sticks that most of us have on our keychains today."
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The 305 RAMAC — First Commercial Hard Drive

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  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Selfbain ( 624722 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @04:21PM (#21646739)
    Those 1-4GB usb drives will be a joke in the not too distant future too.
  • by Jerry Coffin ( 824726 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @04:46PM (#21647145)

    With all this improvement, why haven't we gotten to the point where I can buy a 20 GB hard for $20?

    Two basic reasons. First of all, the basic overhead costs like packaging and shipping are basically fixed, regardless of the capacity of the hard drive. While they have little effect on the cost of a $200 item, they'd eat you alive trying to sell hard drives for $20.

    The second reason is closely related: the cost of building a hard drive depends relatively little on its capacity. You can predict the cost of the drive fairly accurately based only on its form factor. Yes, as the capacity goes up things like the heads and the coatings on the platters change, but they don't change the cost all that much. Obviously when you put more platters in a drive, the cost goes up, but within the typical 1/3 ht. form factor, you don't have room for enough platters to cause anything like an order of magnitude difference in cost.
  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @04:49PM (#21647209)
    The RAMAC was tube controlled. In fact I have several old computer tubes, and the particular one I am thinking of is a dual triode, which means that it can form a 1-bit memory. It is about the size of 4 of my 8-Gbyte USB sticks, so its information density is about 250 billion times less. 250 billion is about 2 ^ 38. Moore's Law calls for a doubling of memory density every 18 months, so 38 * 1.5 = 57 years. And the tube was made sometime in the 50s.

    Truly Moore's Law is an amazing thing.

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @07:25PM (#21649269) Homepage
    When will we stop being impressed? Hopefully never, cause when we stop being impressed, then it means we haven't advanced far enough relative to "the good old days."

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982