Monday, July 31, 2006

50 years of Hard disks!

NewsWeek reports that, next September 13th would be the 50th anniversary of the first hard disk drive.

Steven Levy writes,
"On Sept. 13, 1956, IBM shipped the first unit of the RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) and set in motion a process that would change the way we live."
Change indeed! Today, we have 120 GB or more hard drives sitting on our desks, with some geeks sporting terabyte storage systems for storing their infinite collection of Star Trek trivia and Klingon love songs.

So, what was the spec for the first disk drive? Let's see what Steven Levy writes:

"The drive weighed a full ton, and to lease it you'd pay about $250,000 a year in today's dollars. Since it required a separate air compressor to protect the two moving "heads" that read and wrote information, it was noisy. The total amount of information stored on its 50 spinning iron-oxide-coated disks—each of them a pizza-size 24 inches—was 5 megabytes."

Don't laugh. Your own drive will become obsolete in your lifetime, and you'd be telling your kids that "in 2006, I had a 120GB hard disk drive". I can visualize the smirk on your grandchild's face :)

I think in future, everything will become static, flash based or some other kind of chip based memory. Hard disks are good, have a lot of capacity for a dime, but still, they consist of moving parts, and that's why they are so much prone to failure.

Anyway, I still have my first 2nd disk drive. Though it sort of sings a serenade when I try to read something off it. Perhaps it's almost time I buried it in a time capsule for an archaeologist to discover in the year 2525 ...