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The First Disk Drive

Can’t believe I never heard of this before after all these IT years (decades). The first production dick drive was the IBM 350 disk storage unit which came out in 1956. It had 50 platters and weighed over a ton. And all that area gave it a whopping 5 megabytes (NOT gigabyte). It was not large enough to hold a single image from one of out modern high megapixel cameras.

I can’t find a price for it but the computer system with the disk drive leased for $3,200 per month. And that’s 1956 bucks.

It’s crazy making to compare that to what we have now where it’s not uncommon for folks to have a terabyte¬† at home for about a hundred bucks. But this stuff was incredibly advanced for it’s time. Before this processing was mostly done on tapes. If someone needed to know how many of a product was in stock an operator would have to run a job and mount a tape which would then be read sequentially until the item was found and printed out. The idea that a production computer could reach right into its permanent storage at any point was as radical as the interplanetary internet is today.





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  1. Fernando A Villaamil
    2011/01/20 at 1:29 am

    As I watch Gates explaining how Microsoft went viral with Windows95 I think back to the TRS80 days, and the portable IBM PCs that weighed close to 50 pounds. Yes things have changed.

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