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Data Storage Media

A History of Storage, From Punch Cards To Blu-ray 160

notthatwillsmith writes "Maximum PC just posted a comprehensive visual retrospective about data storage, starting with the once state of the art punch card and moving through the popular formats of yesteryear, including everything from magtape to Blu-ray discs. It's amazing how much data you could pack on a few hundred feet of half-inch magnetic tape!"
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A History of Storage, From Punch Cards To Blu-ray

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  • The one-page version (Score:5, Informative)

    by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) * <> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:46PM (#27081387) Homepage Journal
    For those who don't want to go through several pages of ads, is here [].
  • Drum (Score:2, Informative)

    by WillKemp ( 1338605 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:53PM (#27081473) Homepage

    It's not that comprehensive - there's no mention of drums or hard disk cartridges.

    The first system i worked on as an assembler programmer at the start of the 80s was an old 60s machine based around a drum. We booted it with paper tape and punched cards. (Ultronics SGS)

  • Jaz Drive (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:55PM (#27081507) Journal
    I worked with a bunch of Jaz Drives back in the day. One person dropped a disk, and it failed. The disk was inserted into a drive, and the drive failed. Another disk was inserted into that drive, and that disk failed. It spread like a plague through all of the machines.

    All of the money and data lost due to those things still makes me cringe.
  • by wjh31 ( 1372867 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:56PM (#27081515) Homepage
    It manages to list lots of faliures and successes, but still managed to miss HDD's and SSD, y'know, the sporta thing where people probably store most of their data
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:05PM (#27081615)

    google Daimanta bluray

    Poor little fanboy, the DVD->BluRay transition easily out pacing the VHS->DVD transition must be killing you.

    Absolutely amazing job by Sony to have this massive success of BluRay during one of the worst economic climates in half a decade and requiring new TV hardware to fully support it.

  • Missed a lot... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:07PM (#27081641)
    The CDC system Michigan State University used in the late 70's used drum as swap and booted from a program stored in toggle switches. Not "toggled in", a large panel of toggle switches that contained the initial boot code bit by bit.

    The article also forgot to mention that Jaquard (sp?) is the initial inventor of the punched card, since that's what controlled the looms.

    And, of course, my favoritest kind of memory, the CRT. Yes, that was a very early memory device. And CORE. And the paper format that Byte (or Compute, I forget which) magazine tried to get adopted in the 80's, a form of which appears on shipping labels today.

  • Re:Incomplete (Score:2, Informative)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:07PM (#27081643) Homepage

    Indeed. Who in the world uses bites when the Library of Congress is the standard measurement for data storage. Let's call 1 LOC approximately 20 TB and use the max storage quoted in TFA:

    Punch Card (960 bits) ~= 0.000000006 LOCs
    Magnetic tape (35 kB) ~= 0.00000175 LOCs
    IBM Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    Audio Tape (1400 kB) ~= 0.00000007 LOCs
    T10000 Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    8" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00006 LOCs
    5.25" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00006 LOCs
    3.5" floppy ~= 0.000072 LOCs
    CD (700MB) ~= 0.035 LOCs
    Magneto-optical drive (2.6 GB) ~= 0.13 LOCs
    MiniDisc (1 GB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    Colorado backup (14 GB) ~= 0.7 LOCs
    Compact flash (100 GB) ~= 5 LOCs
    Zip drive (750 MB) ~= 0.0375 LOCs
    Jaz drive (2 GB) ~= 0.1 LOCs
    DVD (8.5 GB) ~= 0.425 LOCs
    LS-120 (240 MB) ~= 0.012 LOCs
    SmartMedia (128 MB) ~= 0.0064 LOCs
    Microdrive (8 GB) ~= 0.4 LOCs
    2.5" portable hard drive (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    SD (32 GB) ~= 1.6 LOCs
    USB flash (64 GB) ~= 3.2 LOCs
    HD-DVD (30 GB) ~= 1.5 LOCs
    Blu-ray (50 GB) ~= 2.5 LOCs

    Now we have some perspective. Much more useful.

  • Re:Incomplete (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:19PM (#27081807) Homepage

    Crud. That big long post and I had GB == TB all the way through... The only places I had it right are where I screwed up TB v GB on both sides... To be fair, though, you mangled it too - 1.6/1000 != .16. Let's try that again:

    Punch Card (960 bits) ~= 0.000000000006 LOCs
    Audio Tape (1400 kB) ~= 0.00000000007 LOCs
    Magnetic tape (35 kB) ~= 0.00000000175 LOCs
    8" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00000006 LOCs
    5.25" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00000006 LOCs
    3.5" floppy ~= 0.000000072 LOCs
    SmartMedia (128 MB) ~= 0.0000064 LOCs
    LS-120 (240 MB) ~= 0.000012 LOCs
    CD (700MB) ~= 0.000035 LOCs
    Zip drive (750 MB) ~= 0.0000375 LOCs
    MiniDisc (1 GB) ~= 0.00005 LOCs
    Jaz drive (2 GB) ~= 0.0001 LOCs
    Magneto-optical drive (2.6 GB) ~= 0.00013 LOCs
    Microdrive (8 GB) ~= 0.0004 LOCs
    DVD (8.5 GB) ~= 0.000425 LOCs
    Colorado backup (14 GB) ~= 0.0007 LOCs
    HD-DVD (30 GB) ~= 0.0015 LOCs
    SD (32 GB) ~= 0.0016 LOCs
    Blu-ray (50 GB) ~= 0.0025 LOCs
    USB flash (64 GB) ~= 0.0032 LOCs
    Compact flash (100 GB) ~= 0.005 LOCs
    IBM Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    T10000 Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
    2.5" portable hard drive (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs


  • Re:Jaz Drive (Score:4, Informative)

    by Gat0r30y ( 957941 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:20PM (#27081813) Homepage Journal
    The Jaz was just a bad idea is all. It was basically just an HDD, but instead of a single integrated system, you separate the media from the heads. Why is this a terrible idea? 1) dirty media will destroy heads right quick. 2) allowing people to move the media around, and even encouraging such behavior astronomically increases the chances you are going to get something bad onto the media. 3) Once a head goes, the whole thing is gone. Without fancy new stuff that goes into the freshest HDD's, this can mean that once the head goes you drive it straight into the media, forever destroying it and causing a general mess. 4) Instead of a nice pretty clean room environment (HDD's are sealed in a clean room), you introduce a bunch of dirtyness and nasty environmental particles every time you put a new disk into the reader.
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:20PM (#27081825)

    Not that they really missed much by doing so...

    This was another of Sinclair's cheap and cheerful designs that never took off - it was used on the Sinclair MX and QL (remember that? - thought not!) computers. The stringy floppy was a small form factor hybrid between a floppy and tape drive. The tapes themself were about the size of a compact flash drive, although a bit fatter, and what they contained was a continuous loop of tape three-dimensionally arranged so that the bulk of it was looped around one spindle, and the other end was looped around another... I'm not sure what the point of it was really meant to be other than the physical small size.. I guess the endless tape loop was meant to give it some advantage.

  • Re:Jaz Drive (Score:3, Informative)

    by jschen ( 1249578 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:34PM (#27081993)
    This "click of death", or "hardware virus", affected the Zip drive, too. I let a friend borrow my computer once in 2000, and I returned to find my Zip drive affected. Iomega told me that since my Zip drive was an OEM part, I should contact Apple for a replacement. Apple wouldn't do anything about it (not for free, anyway) since it was out of warranty. So I called Iomega back up and explained what happened when I contacted Apple, and true to their recent (at the time) promise to replace every Zip drive that was affected with this problem, they replaced my Zip drive, free of charge. I continued to use it for some time after that, last using it in 2003. I assume it still works, though I haven't had reason to check.
  • Re:Drum (Score:3, Informative)

    by Drishmung ( 458368 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:36PM (#27082007)
    Or DDS/DAT [], DECTape [], DLT [], 'stringy' [] and a number of other tape media.

    No 96 column cards [] either.

  • IBM Reference (Score:5, Informative)

    by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:44PM (#27082101)

    To get a better look at where storage came from, head on over to IBM's Archives: [] Then check out the historical product profiles, documentation and videos: []

  • by metasonix ( 650947 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:14PM (#27082547) Journal
    Quote: "The long length presented plenty of opportunities for tears and breaks, so in 1952, IBM devised bulky floor standing drives that made use of vacuum columns to buffer the nickel-plated bronze tape."

    Wrongo, buddy. Stop cribbing from IBM's website. IBM is notorious for making themselves out as "pioneers" for every computing technology.

    The first magnetic-tape drive for a computer to ACTUALLY BE SHIPPED was the Univac Uniservo drive. First system with drives went to the US Census Bureau in December 1951--more than a year before IBM shipped their first tape drive. (and yes, it used nickel-plated bronze tape.)
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:15PM (#27082573) Homepage Journal

    OOOh, right you are! Big lapse, that. A bit like listing key events in WW II while skipping over Pearl Harbor!

    A couple of other bits of sloppiness:

    No, Hollerith cards had nothing to do with the founding of IBM. John Watson did that much later, by merging several companies that included Hollerith's Tabulating Machines Company. People called them "IBM cards" because IBM dominated data processing during the period where punched cards were the only digital storage medium most people knew about.

    Although IBM did invent 9-track tape [], I don't recall it ever being referred to as "IBM tape".

    Ironically, given their IBM-centric view of history, that they left out the hard disk. Nowadays, all hard disks use Winchester technology — invented at IBM!

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:45PM (#27082985)

    In 1980 a Gigabyte of memory was a large room full of Winchester drives. If you did computing on IBMs back then, you used (although maybe never saw) Winchester drives.

    I liked drum drives too - not much space, but they looked cool.

    But, watch out for fan-folded punched paper tape. As the paper aged, it would crack on the folds.

  • by jtgd ( 807477 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @09:33PM (#27086061)
    Also conspicuously absent: DDS tapes.

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