Timeline of Computer History
 

Storage  
1952
IBM 726 Dual Tape Drives

Magnetic tape allows for inexpensive mass storage of information and so is a key part of the computer revolution.  The IBM 726 was one of the first practical high-speed magnetic tape systems for electronic digital computers.  Announced on May 21, 1952, the system used a unique ‘vacuum channel’ method of keeping a loop of tape circulating between two points allowing the tape drive to start and stop the tape in a split-second.  The Model 726 was first sold with IBM’s first electronic digital computer the Model 701 and could store 2 million digits per tape—an enormous amount at the time.  It rented for $850 a month.

1956
IBM's Rey Johnson in front of RAMAC 350 Disk File
The era of magnetic disk storage dawned with IBM´s shipment of a 305 RAMAC to Zellerbach Paper in San Francisco. The IBM 350 disk file served as the storage component for the Random Access Method of Accounting and Control. It consisted of 50 magnetically coated metal platters with 5 million bytes of data. The platters, stacked one on top of the other, rotated with a common drive shaft.
1961
The IBM 1301 Disk Storage System
IBM 1301 Disk Storage Unit is released. The IBM 1301 Disk Drive was announced on June 2nd, 1961 for use with IBM’s 7000-series of mainframe computers. Maximum capacity was 28 million characters and the disks rotated at 1,800 R.P.M. The 1301 leased for $2,100 per month or could be purchased for $115,500. The drive had one read/write arm for each disk as well as flying heads, both of which are still used in today’s disk drives.
1962
Tom Kilburn in front of Manchester Atlas console
Virtual memory emerged from a team under the direction of Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester on its Atlas computer (1962). Virtual memory permitted a computer to use its storage capacity to switch rapidly among multiple programs or users and is a key requirement for timesharing.
Four Views of the IBM 1311 Including Removable Disk Pack
IBM 1311 Disk Storage Drive is announced. Announced on October 11, 1962, the IBM 1311 was the first disk drive IBM made with a removable disk pack. Each pack weighed about ten pounds, held six disks, and had a capacity of 2 million characters. The disks would rotate at 1,500 RPM and were accessed by a hydraulic actuator with one head per disk. [storage] The 1311 offered some of the advantages of both tapes and disks.
1967
The IBM Photo Digital Storage System, code-named Cypress
IBM 1360 Photo-Digital Storage System is delivered. In 1967, IBM delivered the first of its photo-digital storage systems to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The system could read and write up to a trillion bits of information—the first such system in the world.. The 1360 used thin strips of film which were developed with bit patterns via a photographic developing system housed in the machine. The system used sophisticated error correction and a pneumatic robot to move the film strips to and from a storage unit. Only five were built.
1971
IBM 23FD 8
An IBM team, originally led by David Noble, invented the 8-inch floppy diskette. It was initially designed for use in loading microcode into the controller for the "Merlin" (IBM 3330) disk pack file. It quickly won widespread acceptance as a program and data-storage medium. Unlike hard drives, a user could easily transfer a floppy in its protective jacket from one drive to another.
1978
Original Shugart SA400 5 1/4
The 5 1/4" flexible disk drive and diskette were introduced by Shugart Associates in 1976. This was the result of a request by Wang Laboratories to produce a disk drive small enough to use with a desktop computer, since 8" floppy drives were considered too large for that purpose. By 1978, more than 10 manufacturers were producing 5 1/4" floppy drives.
1980
Shugart ST506 5MB Hard Disk Drive

Seagate Technology created the first hard disk drive for microcomputers, the ST506. The disk held 5 megabytes of data, five times as much as a standard floppy disk, and fit in the space of a floppy disk drive. The hard disk drive itself is a rigid metallic platter coated on both sides with a thin layer of magnetic material that stores digital data.

Seagate Technology grew out of a 1979 conversation between Alan Shugart and Finis Conner, who had worked together at Memorex. The two men decided to found the company after developing the idea of scaling down a hard disk drive to the same size as the then-standard 5 1/4-inch floppies. Upon releasing its first product, Seagate quickly drew such big-name customers as Apple Computer and IBM. Within a few years, it had sold 4 million units.

IBM 3380 Disk System

Hard disks are an essential part of the computer revolution, allowing fast, random access to large amounts of data.  IBM announced its most successful mainframe hard disk (what IBM called a “Direct Access Storage Device (DASD)” in June of 1980, actually shipping units the following year.  The 3380 came in six models initially (later growing to many more) and price at time of introduction ranged from $81,000 to $142,200.  The base model stored 2.5 GB of data, later models extended this to 20GB.  IBM sold over 100,000 3380s, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue making the 3380 one of IBM’s most successful products of all time.

1981
Sony 3 1/2
Sony introduced and shipped the first 3 1/2" floppy drives and diskettes in 1981. The first signficant company to adopt the 3 1/2" floppy for general use was Hewlett-Packard in 1982, an event which was critical in establishing momentum for the format and which helped it prevail over the other contenders for the microfloppy standard, including 3", 3 1/4", and 3.9" formats.
1983
   Able to hold 550 megabytes of prerecorded data, CD-ROMs grew out of music Compact Disks (CDs). The first general-interest CD-ROM product released after Philips and Sony announced the CD-ROM in 1984 was "Grolier´s Electronic Encyclopedia," which came out in 1985. The 9 million words in the encyclopedia only took up 12 percent of the available space. The same year, computer and electronics companies worked together to set a standard for the disks so any computer would be able to access the information.
Original Bernoulli Box
The Bernoulli Box is released. Using a special cartridge-based system that used hard disk technology, the Bernoulli Box was a type of removable storage that allowed people to move large files between computers when few alternatives (such as a network) existed. Allowing for many times the amount of storage afforded by a regular floppy disk, the cartridges came in capacities ranging from 5MB to 230MB.
1984
IBM 3480 Cartridge Tape System

Magnetic tape allows for inexpensive mass storage of information and so is a key part of the computer revolution.  Announced in March 1984, IBM’s new 3480 cartridge tape system sought to replace the traditional reels of magnetic tape in the computer center with a 4” x 5” cartridge that held more information (200MB) and offered faster access to it. IBM withdrew the system in 1989 but the new format caught on with other computer makers who began making 3480-compatible storage systems for several years after that, offering increased storage capacity in the same physical format.

1994
Early Zip Drive with Disks
The Iomega Zip Disk is released.  The initial Zip system allowed 100MB to be stored on a cartridge roughly the size of a 3 ½ inch floppy disk. Later versions increased the capacity of a single disk from 100Mbytes to 2GB.

 


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