The History Of Data

The History of Mass Storage

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  • Used magnetic storage technology.
  • Chrysler car manufacturer was the first commercial user
  • Data was stored in 50 x 28″ disks
  • It cost $3,200 per month to lease in 1957 ($26,620 today)
  • It was the first computer storage system used for and Olympic Games in 1960

Weighed more than one tonne!


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IBM 1311

A total of 7 models were made, but model 2, which was in announced when 1311 first appeared, was the last in production.

  • Used 5 x 14″ disks
  • Each disk was divided into 20 dartboard-esque sectors
  • A 1311 model was in production for 13 years until it was withdrawn in 1975

The first removable hard drive

The IBM 1311

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Floppy Disk (5¼″)

  • The capacity later expanded to 110kb with 5 tracks
  • Double density disks arrived in '78 that used both sides of the disk and increased capacity to 360kb
  • Read Only Disks
  • Used to Boot Operating System and application separately
  • Alan Shugart first created an 8″ version that was thought to be too big for PCs
  • The floppy disks used magnetic technology to store and retrieve data

Shugart Associates introduced first
floppy disk
of manageable size

Floppy Disk (5 1/4 ″ FDD)

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IBM 3370

Lease charges were $1058 per month (3,005.68 today) and it cost $35,100 to purchase ($99,715.91 equivalent in 2013).

The 3370 used an advanced logic technology with low failure rate and had error code technology that made it extremely reliable.

  • The 3370 transferred data at 1.859mb/s
  • The first to use thin film technology on large disks

Astronomical data storage for the time
and was in production until August 5 1985

The IBM 3370 Direct Access Storage Device

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Seagate ST-506

Made whilst Seagate was still known as Shugart Technology in the hope of obtaining free PR if Shugart Associates' parent company, Xerox, sued for the use of 'Shugart', for which they owned name rights.

Took the concept of the 5.25″ floppy drive and improved it to make it possible to include hard drives in personal computers.

Shipped 5 more drives than the initial target of 1,200 in the first year.

The drive used the first brushless DC motor and many more firsts in what was then the beginning of miniturisation in hard drives.

The cost was $1,500 per drive,
equivalent of $4,261.36 in 2013

The Seagate ST506

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3½″ Diskette

Sony released the eventual successor to Shugart's floppy Disk as storage for their 'Series 30' wordprocessor.

Sony beat many competitors with various size disks from 2″ to 3.5″ from companies like Amstrad and Mitsumi before being accepted.

  • Disks were no longer floppy, but had hard shells around the magnetic disk
  • Disks had a physical write protection switch
  • Eventually expanded in 1987 but was not the new standard until 1989

It took until 1988 to outsell the 5¼″ disks

The 3.5 ″ floppy diskette

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Rodime RO351

IBM paid Rodime $13m in 1990 for breaching some patents belonging to Rodime, but that didn't stop Rodime filing for bankruptcy in 1991.

Rodime drives became unpopular because the industry led by Seagate agreed on a 1mm smaller diameter and 15mm thinner disk.

Rodime took over the Littlewoods Pools and the pioner of the 3.5″ HDD changed its line of business to the gaming industry.

  • Rodime never made any hard drives after 1991

The first 3.5″ hard disk drive

The Rodime RO351

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Prairie Tek 220

The second 2.5" drive named the PT120 stalled the release of the higher capacity 40mb drive and that meant they missed the chance to meet demand for higher capacity drives, which lead to a cease in manufacturing in 1991 because of funding issues.

A 1992 bankruptcy auction saw Prarie Tek's portfolio sold for $18m to two companies, Conner Peripherals and Alps.

By 1992, a total of 11 companies were selling 2.5" hard drives with capacities between 100mb and 200mb.

Volume production started in 1989

First 2.5″ hard disk drive allowed the portable computer market to expand rapidly

The Prarie Tek 220

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Western Digital Caviar

Despite rave reviews for the connectivity, the brand suffered from criticism for 'stiction', which was known as drive sticking (experiencing friction) until 1995.

The first of the caviar range had a rotation speed of 3595 RPM, but later went to 5400 RPM and was the industry standard for many years.

  • Used 2 thin film heads first used by IBM in 1979
  • Data rate was 12mbit/second

Western Digital introduced new connectivity called Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) that meant 16bit data transfer was possible

The Western Digital Caviar

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IBM 0663 Corsair

First hard disk drive to use MR Heads (Magnetoresistance ). They had been used on magnetic tapes as early as 1984, but returned for the first time on hard disk drives with the Corsair range.

MR Heads allowed for much higher density drives, hence the jump in storage capacity.

The read speed inproved massively with MR heads because the reduced resistence meant there was no 'noise' that affected read quality on other drives.

The 1GB version would not work on Apple systems, but the 1.2GB higher spec model had some microcode alterations to improve compatibility with Apple.

The drive would still work if placed under a shock equivalent to 5G if it lasted no longer than 11 milliseconds

The IBM Corsair

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Seagate Barracuda

Although there were many multi-head drives on the market, the barracuda 2hp was the first that could use more than one simultaneously by splitting the stream.

  • First drive with 7200RPM
  • Seagate introduced the world's first shock sensor on its 1992 drives
  • Seagate still make versions of the Barracuda range in 2013 under the new name of Desktop HDD

The world's fastest hard disk with a
speed of 113mbit/second

The Seagate Barracuda

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Iomega Zip Drive

Were sold mainly as aftermarket peripherals because they were considered too expensive to ship installed in PCs.

In an attempt to reduce production costs, some disk protection features were removed and this resulted in the drive being associated with the 'click of death' , which resulted in lost confidence in the product after many drives and disks suffered damage.

The 100MB disk came with a lifetime warranty, but the 250MB disk only carried one for five years. So many problems were caused by the product that Iomega lost a law suit that meant customers were given a discount off any future product they decided to buy.

Iomega zip drives continued to suffer bad feedback from cutomers for many years with some complaining the later v2000 2GB model would eject shortly after disks were inserted.

Known as the most popular
of the 'Super Floppies'

Iomega Zip Drive

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Philips and Sony had tried many versions with models starting from 200MB in the 80s, but all had failed to penetrate the market.

The use of a laser to read information reduced wear and tear and was less vulnerable to data loss because of magnetic interference.

  • Data is written to the disk from in one spiral from the centre of the disk working outwards.
  • Data is tracked on the CD with a laser that reads 0.5 micron wide bumps.
  • The length of data stored from centre to the edge of the desk is approximately 5km long

Although James T. Russel developed the technology in the late 60s it took until 1994 for its use to be widespread in personal computers


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IBM Deskstar 16GP Titan

Albert Fert and Peter Grunberg received the Nobel prize for physics in 2,007 by identifying the GMR effect.

  • The IBM Deskstar ranged from 3.2GB to 16.8GB with 7 different models
  • To ensure reliability electronic circuits would re-align magnetic heads automatically for the first time
  • The Deskstar Label is now owned by Hitachi and never sold well under IBM because they were overpriced

The first drive to use Giant Magneto Resistive
heads (GMR).

The IBM Deskstar 16GP Titan

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IBM Microdrive

IBM started with two models of microdrive using 170MB and 340MB Compact Flash cards, but despite the reference to flash memory, they are still a mechanical product instead of solid state memory.

Once classed as the world's smallest hard drive, it cost $499 for the top of the range 340MB model in 1999.

  • Just one year later IBM make CF Cards up to 1GB
  • Microdrives still sold until 2011 and are still in use today

The smallest mass storage in the world at the time!

The IBM Microdrive

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Secure Digital SD Cards

A form of 'Solid State' memory with no moving parts and an increased lifetime. This technology had been proven to work as far back as 1956 with the IBM RAMAC, but in 1999 it was miniturised.

  • SD cards were based on an earlier design called MMC (multimediacards)
  • Full market penetration with more than 400 brand name suppliers
  • Called Secure digital because it stored encrypted data

Became the standard for small device storage by 2005

The Sony Secure Digital memory card

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Seagate Cheetah

The second drive with a speed of 15,000 RPM after IBM released the Ultrastar drive in February in 18 and 36GB versions.

Transferred data at 68.1 Mbytes/second, but was designed to be compatible with the Ultra320 interface when it became available, which allowed burst transfers of upto 320MBytes/second.

  • The drives were designed for use on servers that demanded fast data seek and transfer
  • The X15 range had an exceltionally fast access time of 0.3 milliseconds

The drive was unveiled in 1999, but IBM beat Seagate to market with their 15,000RPM offering

The Seagate Cheetah

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Western Digital Raptor

  • Aimed at enterprise class setups
  • Produced speeds that were previously only available on high end SCSI drives
  • Capable of burst rate transfers of 104Mbytes/second
  • Required no host adapter because the SATA connection meant direct access to all motherboards

First 10,000RPM SATA Drive

The Western Digital Raptor

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Seagate Barracuda 7200

A debut price of $590 meant it was cheaper than the average price of $1 per GB from SATA drives on the market, but slightly more expensive than the average 7200RPM drives, which were around $0.62/GB.

  • Was close to matching the Western Digital Raptor for speed
  • First 3.5″ drive to utilize capacity and reliability boosting perpendicular recording technology
  • An adaptive fly height offered consistent read/write performance

The largest hard drive of its type to date

The Seagate Barracuda 7200

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SDHC Memory Card/Stick

SDHC were preformatted with the FAT32 filesystem, which had filesize limitations and required reformatting with NTFS filesystem to store larger files.

SDHC devices were made backward compatible to enable people to use legacy SD cards.

Windows-based machines only support SDHC cards from Vista onwards, but older versions could be patched to work.

SDHC allowed the recording of much longer HD video on capable devices and that drove the market for HD cameras forward.

High capacity SD cards meant much higher storage for many small devices

The Sandisk Memory Stick

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Sony XC Memory Stick

XC Memory is taking memory card storage to a new level, demand for the technology is not predicted to expand until comsumers adopt UltraHD video technology and demand small but very high capacity storage.

Despite being capable of 2TB, most license manufacturers only market lower capacities up to 123GB because the cost per GB would be too high for the marketplace.

  • Transfers at 60Mbits/second
  • Available as a USB flash drive and in the SD Card form factor

Solid state storage means extremely fast access times that beat and traditional HDD

The Sony Pro Duo memory stick

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Dell Ophelia

Dubbed Project Ophelia, the computer on a USB sized stick will make any screen with a compatible HDMI or interface into a computer.

Although shipping with Android, it uses Dell’s Wyse PocketCloud to run a virtual machine with any operating system.

  • Runs on Android Operating system
  • Is powered either via HDMI or a MHL port

Personal cloud access stick. Uses cloud storage so has no data storage limits.

Project Ophelia - the Dell USB computer

Unlimited storage
in the Cloud

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