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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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  • by Octel ( 809339 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:54PM (#27081491)
    I had an older friend who was a CS student in college during the late 70's. He had his final semester program on punch cards. Like a typical student he was rushing to class to turn in his project but tripped on the stairs thus sending the cards all over the place. You could hear his anguish miles away!
  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:03PM (#27081595)

    When the price of a Blu-Ray disc is 6x that of a DVD(they carry around 6 times the storage, sounds fair to me) call me again.

    I think before BR gets cheap enough to replace DVD for archiving & backup, flash memory or one of these new disc formats offering hundreds
    of GB/TB that people keep announcing will be here at a comparable/better price.

    The only advantage I can see for BR is if you have files larger than 8Gig that you dont want to split into parts.

  • by AdmiralXyz ( 1378985 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:07PM (#27081633)

    This entire article seems a little anachronistic.

    and only recently has it become common to find new PCs with a naked 3.5-inch drive bay.

    What are they talking about? I haven't seen a new PC with a floppy drive in years.

  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jasonwc ( 939262 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:10PM (#27081679)

    You're assuming Blu-Ray disks will continue to have only one or two layers. However, 8 and 16 layer disks have been produced, and would be readable by any current Blu-Ray player with a firmware update.

    Pioneer produced a 16 layer, 400 GB disk a few months ago, and they're attempting to produce a 1 TB disk by 2013.

    Also, I dispute your claim that there is not much difference between 480p and 1080p video. The detail level on some Blu-Ray's is simply staggering (e.g. Dark Knight, Planet Earth, Lost S04). Differences are especially apparent on animated content where production is all digital.
    For example, Wall-E and Ratatouille look amazing.

      It is far superior in color reproduction, vibrancy, and detail than DVD. There's also the benefit of lossless audio. Most Blu-Rays now come with lossless 24/48 khz tracks 5.1 or 7.1 tracks. This is significantly superior to the 448 kbit Dolby Digital tracks provided on most DVDs.

    Source: Wikipedia

    "In December 2008, Pioneer Corporation unveiled a 400 GB Blu-ray disc, which contains 16 data layers, 25 GB each, and will be compatible with current players after a firmware update. A planned launch is in the 2009-2010 time frame for ROM and 2010-2013 for rewritable discs. Ongoing development is under way to create a 1 TB Blu-ray disc as soon as 2013.[92]."

  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:16PM (#27081777) Homepage

    I'm not saying it didn't happen to him (it is a good urban myth), but there were tools and procedures available to prevent it. Punched cards (for Fortran programs at least) had a sequence field in the last 8 columns [] for sorting decks, and usually you'd draw a diagonal line across the top of the card stack with a marker so that you could manually resort them if a sorter wasn't available.

    If you look at the layout for a fortran program, you'll see that it was heavily influenced by the punched card layout, or vice-versa.

  • by cbelt3 ( 741637 ) <cbelt@y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:32PM (#27081959) Journal

    NOT an urban legend. Happened to me with a 550 card program at Mizzou in 1975. I was running through the halls to go get it punched on the auto-collator (I think that's what it was called- a machine that punched the extra columns on the right (73 through 80) in sequence so you could resort the cards. And I tripped, and the cards went flying.

    Fortunately I had a printout because I'd just run the program, so I just went back and keypunched the whole damn thing. And left the cards in the hall. I was a faster typist than a sorter.

  • Re:Jaz Drive (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:47PM (#27082159)

    How does that differ from 3.5" floppies? Oh. That's right: it doesn't.

  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:48PM (#27082163)
    But paying a few hundred bucks for a hard drive was normal then, too, and now it's not.

    And when data CDs first came out (mid-80s), they stored several times more than a high-end hard drive. Somewhere along the way, optical media fell far, far behind.

  • Re:geek points!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @04:58PM (#27082327)

    Yeah - those early "storage" media were more than just for transporting your program around. They were also patchable. Fixing typos on punched cards was always fun - you fed a fresh card into the machine and held down the auto-repeat duplicate button which sounded like a machine gun as it sucked in the old/new cards and punched the new one up to the point of the error where you'd start typing again. I loved that noise!

    I also remember burning programs onto EPROMs for early machines like the BBC Micro or embedded projects. You could edit those to a limited extent too... rather than so back and fix the source and reassemble for minor changes you'd just load the bad ROM image into the EPROM programmer and patch the hex directly and burn a new one...

    Get the fuck off my lawn you whippersnappers!

  • Punch Cards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mishotaki ( 957104 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:02PM (#27082389)
    Back in my childhood, my dad took a couple thousands of those phased out punch cards... we used them to takes notes for YEARS, we just had a lot of them... at least all that paper was used for transferring information, even if not used for it's original purpose...
  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:4, Interesting)

    by je ne sais quoi ( 987177 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:15PM (#27082561)
    For me the issue is not the technical merits of the blu-ray discs, it's the fact that as a distribution format for movies, they are loaded up with the most asinine DRM that I could possibly imagine. I recently built a new home PC and thought I'd finally take the plunge and buy the newest media and I got a blu-ray player for it. Since I don't own a television, I was looking forward to watching blu-ray movies on my monitor. As I discovered however, my monitor is DVI so I wasn't allowed to actually watch my legally purchased blu-ray movies on my legally purchased blu-ray player. Wow... To boot, I like to run linux and I couldn't get dumphd to run so to watch movies I have to buy each one, copy it to the hard drive while stripping it of DRM using the windows program anyDVD, and then I can watch it using linux. Wow, what a load of crap! Somebody needs to take a class action suit against whoever is pushing this HDCP nonsense.

    While there isn't any real connection between blu-ray as a distribution medium and blu-ray as a storage medium, if I find the standard blu-ray movies repulsive, I don't care what the technical merits of the disc are, I'm going to avoid it like the plague. I swear I'm not buying another blu-ray disc until this DRM HDCP virtual engine nonsense is removed (or reverse-engineered) and the movies play on linux and play easily.
  • by ebh ( 116526 ) <{edhorch} {at} {}> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:21PM (#27082651) Journal

    Happened to me too. Only I didn't drop the deck down the stairs, I dropped it into a mud puddle. I was able to salvage about a quarter of the cards, and had to repunch the rest. Fortunately, I'd used one of those fancy Univac keypunches that printed the characters across the tops of the cards. Also, I wasn't close to deadline, so it was just a PITA instead of a disaster.

    And yes, I also remember the diagonal magic marker line trick.

  • Re:Incomplete (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slyn ( 1111419 ) <> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:22PM (#27082663)

    Was I the only one who thought it was odd that Betamax disks don't make the list at all? They mention it at the very end, they go over the HD-DVD and Blu-ray competition, and feature more obscure storage options (magneto-optical?). Why they actually left it out completely is beyond me

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:38PM (#27082871) Homepage Journal

    You could hear his anguish miles away!

    The only significant risk would be losing or damaging a card. A damaged card would have to be repunched.

    The MOST POPULAR program on the mainframe was SORT. It would take a "shuffled deck" (out of order program deck) and sort it back into order. That program got ran quite a few times a day, every day. So getting your deck shuffled really wasn't that big of a deal. More dramatic than damaging.

  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @05:43PM (#27082947)

    Sure it may techincally be better, but I really couldn't care less. First off, I don't care that much to make the purcase of a better TV and a bluray player worth it. Secondly, even if I did have the hardware, I still wouldn't care enought to wear my glasses while watching the movie. My eyesight isn't perfect, but it's good enough for everyday use, wearing glasses offers little benifit for most activities, including watching movies. Honestly I don't see what's the big deal with being able to make out every single pore on the actor's face. Being blasted with tiny little details doesn't make a movie any better for me.

    Now, being able to store a terabyte of data on optical media? That is something to be excited about.

  • Re:Incomplete (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @07:42PM (#27084831)

    Betamax was used for digital storage starting in 1981 - using the PCM-F1 digital audio processor and the SL-2000 Betamax recorder, you had an excellent portable digital audio recorder and mastering machine.

  • Re:Incomplete (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kitgerrits ( 1034262 ) * on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:26PM (#27085371)

    I remember ads for devices that will hook your PC to a VCR, so you could use is as a 'tape drive'.
    Although, that was in the 90s and I can't find any on Google...

    Apparently there has even been a D-VHS drive [] (I neever heard of it before).

  • Re:to Blu-ray (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @08:48PM (#27085633) Homepage Journal

    Well, if everybody had run out and purchased big huge HD TV sets (which was the whole point of this analog-to-digital snafu), then DVD would be just unacceptable. Everybody would have to upgrade to Blu Ray to eliminate the pixelation.

    But people aren't running out and buying HD TV sets. This is partly because of the recession, but I think that people are just tired of getting soaked a lot of money for high-tech couch potato technology. VCRs. DVDs. HD TVs. (Coming soon: 3D TV!) Monthly cable bills that run past $100. People pay and pay and pay, and then they realize that they're still pretty bored, and go off looking for more creative ways to amuse themselves.

    I think the market's long past saturated. Any new passive entertainment technology would lay an egg, regardless of the "wow!" factor.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments