History of Computer Storage. - GoTechTalk

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

History of Computer Storage.

History of Computer Storage.

Where would we be without digital storage we'd be stuck in traffic trying to take our film to get developed and might even still be using scrolls or something but believe it or not the long Odyssey from the era before electricity to storing terabytes of information on pint-sized SSDs.

punch cards
Actually begins with paper specifically it began with punch cards which were quite important way before the year 2000 when the state of Florida suddenly decided that poking holes in a piece of paper was too difficult for whatever reason, in fact, punch cards and punch tape go all the way back to the early 1700s when they were used in looms to weave textile patterns, patterns on tape could correspond to machine instructions as they did in things like player pianos or to numbers and characters as they did in things like early computers.

drum memoryTabulation machines from the late 1800s use punched tape to help count large data sets including helping to finish the U.S census way ahead of schedule in 1890, of course punch cards don't exactly hold a lot of data with a typical punch card holding less than a tenth of a kilobyte so you'd need about 28 billion of them to match the capacity of a typical 2 terabytes modern hard drive as digital computing started becoming more popular magnetic storage came to dominate but this doesn't mean that the hard drive was the direct successor to the punch card.

An early form of magnetic storage was drum memory large cylinders with the data written on the outside like modern hard drives drum memory had read/write heads but these were stationary instead, the drum spun around at high speeds while the head waited for the relevant piece of data to come around although they could store a lot more data than old punch cards their capacity was still pretty tiny by modern standards only a few kilobytes each, drum memory was actually quite popular until the 1950s but magnetic tape which was actually patented a few years prior to drum memory was far more enduring as tape drives are still widespread today for archival storage.

floppy disk Magnetic tape was and still is great for cheap data storage in bulk but with slow access times resulting from having to constantly wind the tape back and forth a quicker solution was needed as computers became more powerful, work was done in the 1940s on using cathode ray tubes to store data the same type of tube you can find in old-school TVs by firing electrons to create patterns representing ones and zeros that would stick to the tube however, core memory quickly became much more popular especially due to its lower cost for working memory which we today refer to as RAM unlike earlier forms of magnetic storage core memory didn't have any moving parts making it much quicker core memory worked by changing the magnetic polarity of small iron oxide loops which were woven together, in fact core memory was often made by hand by garment workers but the small capacities of core memory led to a development of a compromise between access speeds and size the familiar hard drive was introduced in 1956 on one of those massive old-school IBM machines although it was 50 feet tall and contained 50 platters this early drive only held five megabytes but after IBM introduced a model with one head per platter to speed up access times the foundation was laid for the modern hard drive design and speaking of getting smaller there was still no solution for portable data until the venerable floppy disk appeared on the scene in 1971 although it did use magnetic storage technology like hard drives their small size and light weight made them very useful for relatively small programs and files that were common in that day the first discs were those giant 8-inch ones that only held 80 kilobytes but gradually floppy capacity grew and we got the ubiquitous 1.44 megabyte 3.5 inch disks that aren't really useful anymore for anything other than making pen holders and cool artsy crafts  although floppy drives tried to stave off their demise with release of soup floppy products such as the almost famous zip drive of the mid-1990s the writable CD and later flash memory nailed the floppies coffin shut with much higher capacities at lower prices although flash memory was first developed in 1980 and took a while to be widely used for long-term storage it ultimately pushed optical media into increasing irrelevance as well as the ever-popular USB thumb drives and SD cards came to dominate the market because flash tech doesn't rely on moving parts like optical drives access, times are much shorter and as tiny transistors that store data on flash drives keep getting smaller and smaller we now have multiple terabyte SSDs and SD cards that can store 512 gigabytes you need over seven billion of those standard punch cards we talked about in the beginning of this blog to match just that SD card which would stack 800 miles high no word yet though on when we're going to build a real-life holocron vault.

Alright, guys, that's the end of the blog, thanks for reading the whole way through if you enjoyed this blog please share it with someone who would be interested and leave a comment, Thanks for reading guys.


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