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A History of Storage, From Punch Cards To Blu-ray

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the isn't-that-right-joey dept.

Data Storage 160

notthatwillsmith writes "Maximum PC just posted a comprehensive visual retrospective about data storage, starting with the once state of the art punch card and moving through the popular formats of yesteryear, including everything from magtape to Blu-ray discs. It's amazing how much data you could pack on a few hundred feet of half-inch magnetic tape!"

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Incomplete (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081327)

The article fails to include the Library of Congress, to which all other storage mediums should be compared...

Re:Incomplete (4, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081419)

A good metric in general, but in this case the first page would consist of a zero, a decimal point, and lots of other zeros followed eventually by a significant digit.

If I want to read a whole lot of nothing I'll go to Digg...

Re:Incomplete (2, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081643)

Indeed. Who in the world uses bites when the Library of Congress is the standard measurement for data storage. Let's call 1 LOC approximately 20 TB and use the max storage quoted in TFA:

Punch Card (960 bits) ~= 0.000000006 LOCs
Magnetic tape (35 kB) ~= 0.00000175 LOCs
IBM Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
Audio Tape (1400 kB) ~= 0.00000007 LOCs
T10000 Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
8" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00006 LOCs
5.25" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00006 LOCs
3.5" floppy ~= 0.000072 LOCs
CD (700MB) ~= 0.035 LOCs
Magneto-optical drive (2.6 GB) ~= 0.13 LOCs
MiniDisc (1 GB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
Colorado backup (14 GB) ~= 0.7 LOCs
Compact flash (100 GB) ~= 5 LOCs
Zip drive (750 MB) ~= 0.0375 LOCs
Jaz drive (2 GB) ~= 0.1 LOCs
DVD (8.5 GB) ~= 0.425 LOCs
LS-120 (240 MB) ~= 0.012 LOCs
SmartMedia (128 MB) ~= 0.0064 LOCs
Microdrive (8 GB) ~= 0.4 LOCs
2.5" portable hard drive (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
SD (32 GB) ~= 1.6 LOCs
USB flash (64 GB) ~= 3.2 LOCs
HD-DVD (30 GB) ~= 1.5 LOCs
Blu-ray (50 GB) ~= 2.5 LOCs

Now we have some perspective. Much more useful.

Re:Incomplete (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081711) your own estimation 1 LOC = 20TB...not GB.

You fool.

SD (32 GB) ~= 1.6 LOCs


SD (32 GB) ~= .16 LOCs

Re:Incomplete (4, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081807)

Crud. That big long post and I had GB == TB all the way through... The only places I had it right are where I screwed up TB v GB on both sides... To be fair, though, you mangled it too - 1.6/1000 != .16. Let's try that again:

Punch Card (960 bits) ~= 0.000000000006 LOCs
Audio Tape (1400 kB) ~= 0.00000000007 LOCs
Magnetic tape (35 kB) ~= 0.00000000175 LOCs
8" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00000006 LOCs
5.25" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 0.00000006 LOCs
3.5" floppy ~= 0.000000072 LOCs
SmartMedia (128 MB) ~= 0.0000064 LOCs
LS-120 (240 MB) ~= 0.000012 LOCs
CD (700MB) ~= 0.000035 LOCs
Zip drive (750 MB) ~= 0.0000375 LOCs
MiniDisc (1 GB) ~= 0.00005 LOCs
Jaz drive (2 GB) ~= 0.0001 LOCs
Magneto-optical drive (2.6 GB) ~= 0.00013 LOCs
Microdrive (8 GB) ~= 0.0004 LOCs
DVD (8.5 GB) ~= 0.000425 LOCs
Colorado backup (14 GB) ~= 0.0007 LOCs
HD-DVD (30 GB) ~= 0.0015 LOCs
SD (32 GB) ~= 0.0016 LOCs
Blu-ray (50 GB) ~= 0.0025 LOCs
USB flash (64 GB) ~= 0.0032 LOCs
Compact flash (100 GB) ~= 0.005 LOCs
IBM Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
T10000 Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs
2.5" portable hard drive (1 TB) ~= 0.05 LOCs


Re:Incomplete (1)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082109)

The largest 2.5" HDDs are currently 500 GB, not 1TB. Did you mean 3.5" external?

The largest 3.5" HDDs are 2 TB, but I think the largest single-drive external is only 1 TB.

Re:Incomplete (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082223)

I've never shopped for one and didn't know what the maximum size was. I just ran through a maximumpc article that compared different storage media and quoted their maximum storage capabilities. If you're interested, my source can be viewed here. [] (Or on a single page here. [] )

Re:Incomplete (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082821)

It's nicer with metric prefixes.

Punch Card (960 bits) ~= 6 picoLOCs
Audio Tape (1400 kB) ~= 70 picoLOCs
Magnetic tape (35 kB) ~= 1.75 nanoLOCs
8" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 60 nanoLOCs
5.25" floppy (1.2 MB) ~= 60 nanoLOCs
3.5" floppy ~= 72 nanoLOCs
SmartMedia (128 MB) ~= 6.4 microLOCs
LS-120 (240 MB) ~= 12 microLOCs
CD (700MB) ~= 35 microLOCs
Zip drive (750 MB) ~= 37 microLOCs
MiniDisc (1 GB) ~= 50 microLOCs
Jaz drive (2 GB) ~= 100 microLOCs
Magneto-optical drive (2.6 GB) ~= 130 microLOCs
Microdrive (8 GB) ~= 400 microLOCs
DVD (8.5 GB) ~= 425 microLOCs
Colorado backup (14 GB) ~= 700 microLOCs
HD-DVD (30 GB) ~= 1.5 milliLOCs
SD (32 GB) ~= 1.6 milliLOCs
Blu-ray (50 GB) ~= 2.5 milliLOCs
USB flash (64 GB) ~= 3.2 milliLOCs
Compact flash (100 GB) ~= 5 milliLOCs
IBM Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 50 milliLOCs
T10000 Magnetic Tape (1 TB) ~= 50 milliLOCs
2.5" portable hard drive (1 TB) ~= 50 milliLOCs

Re:Incomplete (0, Redundant)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082031)

Take a look at your numbers... you keep switching the size of the LoC from 20TB to 20GB in your calculations...

Re:Incomplete (2, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082517)

The article fails to include the Library of Congress, to which all other storage mediums should be compared...

You should see how much information there is at the Congress of Libraries!

Re:Incomplete (2, Interesting)

slyn (1111419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082663)

Was I the only one who thought it was odd that Betamax disks don't make the list at all? They mention it at the very end, they go over the HD-DVD and Blu-ray competition, and feature more obscure storage options (magneto-optical?). Why they actually left it out completely is beyond me

Re:Incomplete (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083247)

It's probably because Betamax wasn't used for digital storage?

Or if it was, it was as obscure as magneto-optical.

Magneto-optical is also interesting because it is unique. Betamax would be covered by magnetic tape (listed as from pre-betamax to present), if it was ever a general digital storage.

VHS was similarly left out, as was DV tapes (which actually would fit in, but I don't think you can store general info on them).

HD-DVD and Blu-ray are both general data storage formats, though both being essentially blu-laser discs, I think they should have been in the same category.

The one-page version (4, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081387)

For those who don't want to go through several pages of ads, is here [] .

to Blu-ray (4, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081445)

Personally, I don't see Blu-Ray working like DVD and CD did. When the CD was released it was huge compared to HDDs. I remember possessing a 4GB drive, 7 CDs would match that. And CDs were pretty cheap by that time. Then came the DVD which was 100 times better than old magnetic tapes(I still have some of those lying around, dumb spacefillers).

Now we have expensive Blu-ray which is 25GB per disc(50 for dl) and it's not at all impressive. It doesn't kick the ass of DVD. I can live with the quality DVD for a quite a while it's nothing compared to the ugly mess that we call VHS-tapes. They are not impressively big(with 1TB drives around for ca. eur. 100) and they cost a ton. Not only is the optical drive prohibitly expensive, the discs themselves do not come cheap). When the price of a Blu-Ray disc is 6x that of a DVD(they carry around 6 times the storage, sounds fair to me) call me again. Until that time, HDDs and DVDs will do just nicely.

Re:to Blu-ray (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081585)

It sounds like you don't remember the costs of CD and DVD burners and media when they first came out. In 1997 or 1998, a CD burner cost about 300 bucks, with media easily being 5-10 bucks a pop. When DVD burners came out a few years later, the prices were similar. Now we're onto Blu-ray, and again, the prices are about the same. Give it a few more years and prices will be about $40-50 for the burners and $20-25 for 15 blanks.

Re:to Blu-ray (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082163)

But paying a few hundred bucks for a hard drive was normal then, too, and now it's not.

And when data CDs first came out (mid-80s), they stored several times more than a high-end hard drive. Somewhere along the way, optical media fell far, far behind.

Re:to Blu-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082213)

Its hardly the same.

While CDs were that expensive when they first came out (my first one was almost £500 and the blank discs were about £4.50 each) blank DVDs were never that much.
Recordable CD was a new format so making the blank media meant creating new machines and processes. DVD only needed a modification to the CD media making process.
While BluRay are slightly different (the recordable surface is much nearer the lower side of the media IIRC) it shouldnt cost anywhere near that much.

Give it a few more years and prices will be about $40-50 for the burners and $20-25 for 15 blanks.

The blanks are only about double that now but that is still far too much. Blank CDs & DVDs are around 28cents each. I'd say for BluRay to work it needs to cost no more than 40 cents for a blank disc. At your price its just as cheap to buy a second hard drive as a backup as it is to use BDroms (and much easier).

Re:to Blu-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27083175)

The first CD burning Drive was 20 Grand and I'm pretty sure the disks started at $20. I remember finding "deals" for $10. I remember seeing the first Pioneer DVD Burner at $10,000, though it didn't stay at the price for nearly as long. The first DVD-Rs I remember looking at were $10-$15. I didn't start buying them until Apple came out with a $15 5-pack.

My first CD-Burner cost me $400 for a 4x and I think I paid about the same amount for my 2x DVD Burner (which still works, surprisingly enough).

I paid a little less than $200 for my 6x Bluray burner, but I've only bought 30 disks for it so far. $60 for a 15 pack. I'm also starting to see the hub-printables for around the same price of $4.00.

All-in-all, the drives are far cheaper and the media only moderately more expensive than DVD-R was when it first came down to consumer levels.

Re:to Blu-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082249)

CD...burners...first came out. In 1997 or 1998

A little earlier than that. Try 1992/93. I remember my school winning a system that included a CD writer. Single speed, Sony, SCSI. The only media available were gold CD-R's at something like £10 each, and the drive was upwards of £1000 at the time.

Then again I remember using tape on my ZX Spectrum, I still have a 2.5GB HP Colorado drive here somewhere, and I use an external DAT-4 drive for backups...

Re:to Blu-ray (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081595)

When the price of a Blu-Ray disc is 6x that of a DVD(they carry around 6 times the storage, sounds fair to me) call me again.

I think before BR gets cheap enough to replace DVD for archiving & backup, flash memory or one of these new disc formats offering hundreds
of GB/TB that people keep announcing will be here at a comparable/better price.

The only advantage I can see for BR is if you have files larger than 8Gig that you dont want to split into parts.

Look At His Post History On Google! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081615)

google Daimanta bluray

Poor little fanboy, the DVD->BluRay transition easily out pacing the VHS->DVD transition must be killing you.

Absolutely amazing job by Sony to have this massive success of BluRay during one of the worst economic climates in half a decade and requiring new TV hardware to fully support it.

Re:Look At His Post History On Google! (0, Redundant)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081893)

"google Daimanta bluray"


I got this link: []

Re:Look At His Post History On Google! (-1, Redundant)

myz24 (256948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081971)

Should probably be moderated as redundant

Re:Look At His Post History On Google! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082939)

You don't know how to use the Google, do you? I get 2 full pages of hits.

Re:Look At His Post History On Google! (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082761)

Poor little fanboy, the DVD->BluRay transition easily out pacing the VHS->DVD transition must be killing you.

Have you any links that show the stats, preferably based on the price of players rather than the time available?

Re:to Blu-ray (4, Interesting)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081679)

You're assuming Blu-Ray disks will continue to have only one or two layers. However, 8 and 16 layer disks have been produced, and would be readable by any current Blu-Ray player with a firmware update.

Pioneer produced a 16 layer, 400 GB disk a few months ago, and they're attempting to produce a 1 TB disk by 2013.

Also, I dispute your claim that there is not much difference between 480p and 1080p video. The detail level on some Blu-Ray's is simply staggering (e.g. Dark Knight, Planet Earth, Lost S04). Differences are especially apparent on animated content where production is all digital.
For example, Wall-E and Ratatouille look amazing.

  It is far superior in color reproduction, vibrancy, and detail than DVD. There's also the benefit of lossless audio. Most Blu-Rays now come with lossless 24/48 khz tracks 5.1 or 7.1 tracks. This is significantly superior to the 448 kbit Dolby Digital tracks provided on most DVDs.

Source: Wikipedia

"In December 2008, Pioneer Corporation unveiled a 400 GB Blu-ray disc, which contains 16 data layers, 25 GB each, and will be compatible with current players after a firmware update. A planned launch is in the 2009-2010 time frame for ROM and 2010-2013 for rewritable discs. Ongoing development is under way to create a 1 TB Blu-ray disc as soon as 2013.[92]."

Re:to Blu-ray (1)

PagosaSam (884523) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081933)

Damn! I guess I'll have to buy the White album again!

Re:to Blu-ray (4, Insightful)

comm2k (961394) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082229)

It is far superior in color reproduction

No it is not, it is still 8bpc and uses the same color sub-sampling (4:2:0) as DVD/DVB/ATSC etc...

Re:to Blu-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27083389)

It does use a wider color gamut, however. BT.709 VS BT.601 I believe. I wouldn't call it a "far superior" difference, but it is visible.

Re:to Blu-ray (3, Interesting)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082561)

For me the issue is not the technical merits of the blu-ray discs, it's the fact that as a distribution format for movies, they are loaded up with the most asinine DRM that I could possibly imagine. I recently built a new home PC and thought I'd finally take the plunge and buy the newest media and I got a blu-ray player for it. Since I don't own a television, I was looking forward to watching blu-ray movies on my monitor. As I discovered however, my monitor is DVI so I wasn't allowed to actually watch my legally purchased blu-ray movies on my legally purchased blu-ray player. Wow... To boot, I like to run linux and I couldn't get dumphd to run so to watch movies I have to buy each one, copy it to the hard drive while stripping it of DRM using the windows program anyDVD, and then I can watch it using linux. Wow, what a load of crap! Somebody needs to take a class action suit against whoever is pushing this HDCP nonsense.

While there isn't any real connection between blu-ray as a distribution medium and blu-ray as a storage medium, if I find the standard blu-ray movies repulsive, I don't care what the technical merits of the disc are, I'm going to avoid it like the plague. I swear I'm not buying another blu-ray disc until this DRM HDCP virtual engine nonsense is removed (or reverse-engineered) and the movies play on linux and play easily.

Re:to Blu-ray (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082689)

they are loaded up with the most asinine DRM that I could possibly imagine.

Its not just the DRM, they fill them with annoying adverts & notices that you cant skip.

Every DVD i've bought recently has had this advert comparing stealing a car/handbag with copying a DVD. Aside from the fact they're not the same, they force you to watch it every time you watch the film. I see that as a big reason why I would download films as I've not yet seen a single downloaded film with any of these kinds of annoyances.

Re:to Blu-ray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27083129)

Its not just the DRM, they fill them with annoying adverts & notices that you cant skip.

Funny, because I still have never come across a DVD or Blu-ray that had adverts that I couldn't skip past either by using the chapter skip buttons or the menu button. Everyone always goes on about these things being unskippable, but I've never managed to find one. Even Disney discs. I strongly suspect it's the famed ID10T error.

Re:to Blu-ray (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083877)

No, it isn't. E.g., the FBI copyright warning should be unskippable. You just got lucky with the DVD player you bought, or are playing it using software that doesn't care on your computer (vlc, kaffeine, etc.). There's some kind of "do not skip" flag to which most, but not all, DVD players pay attention. My hardware DVD player will not skip previews or advertisements, but when I watch the same DVDs on my computer, they can be bypassed.

Xbox/HD-DVD Fanboy Talking Points/Damage Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082679)

You're responding to the standard Xbox/HD-DVD sour grapes that gets posted in every Blu-Ray story.

Once Sony kicked the shit out of HD-DVD suddenly:

* Digital distribution is the answer

* 480p looks just as good as 1080p

* Anything bigger than a DVD is just being wasteful

* Even if you need more storage than a DVD you can just use 'really good compression' anyways

Back in the sad and pathetic Zonk days when every day was a constant FUD fest against Blu-Ray these guys were in bliss. Now they have turned into bitter trolls who jump into any thread with Blu-Ray in the title to spew their bitter resentment.

Re:to Blu-ray (2, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082947)

Sure it may techincally be better, but I really couldn't care less. First off, I don't care that much to make the purcase of a better TV and a bluray player worth it. Secondly, even if I did have the hardware, I still wouldn't care enought to wear my glasses while watching the movie. My eyesight isn't perfect, but it's good enough for everyday use, wearing glasses offers little benifit for most activities, including watching movies. Honestly I don't see what's the big deal with being able to make out every single pore on the actor's face. Being blasted with tiny little details doesn't make a movie any better for me.

Now, being able to store a terabyte of data on optical media? That is something to be excited about.

Forgot one. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081451)

Clay tablets. The oldest technology and most reliable to date.

Re:Forgot one. (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081611)

Clay tablets!?!?!? You young whipper-snappers with yer mobile devices. In my day we used a cave wall. Better resolution.

Re:Forgot one. (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082775)

Clay tablets!?!?!?

Yup. But those damn storage slaves always dropped and broke them, that why we developed redundancy and ECC back at Uruk U.

Drum (2, Informative)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081473)

It's not that comprehensive - there's no mention of drums or hard disk cartridges.

The first system i worked on as an assembler programmer at the start of the 80s was an old 60s machine based around a drum. We booted it with paper tape and punched cards. (Ultronics SGS)

Missed a lot... (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081641)

The CDC system Michigan State University used in the late 70's used drum as swap and booted from a program stored in toggle switches. Not "toggled in", a large panel of toggle switches that contained the initial boot code bit by bit.

The article also forgot to mention that Jaquard (sp?) is the initial inventor of the punched card, since that's what controlled the looms.

And, of course, my favoritest kind of memory, the CRT. Yes, that was a very early memory device. And CORE. And the paper format that Byte (or Compute, I forget which) magazine tried to get adopted in the 80's, a form of which appears on shipping labels today.

Re:Missed a lot... (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081939)


Re:Missed a lot... (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082619)

And the paper format that Byte (or Compute, I forget which) magazine tried to get adopted in the 80's, a form of which appears on shipping labels today.

It was Byte mag. They always programs in Cauzin Softstrip [] format. I always wanted to get a reader back in the day. Never did, though.

To be honest, though, I think most of those were Softstrip ads, rather than Byte articles, but I could be wrong.

Re:Drum (2, Informative)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082007)

Or DDS/DAT [] , DECTape [] , DLT [] , 'stringy' [] and a number of other tape media.

No 96 column cards [] either.

re: DLT (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082783)

I was wondering where DLT went too, but then considered that it was never really a "consumer" storage solution. VERY popular in business though, with quite a history. 9Track also. Had to deal with both of those about 10 yrs ago.

What most amazed me is that the MAJORITY of our big customers provided their raw data, and required us to send back the processed goods, on 9Track. And these were big names like Phillip Morris.

But at that time there just wasn't a more economical way to ship large amounts of data.

Back in my day... (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081477)

...we notched lines on sticks. And we LIKED IT THAT WAY. We even developed a counting system out of it. See?


That's 10. Ignore the previous notches. Some young whippersnappers thought it would be funny to do "subtractive" forms whereby IV would be "four". Oooo. I'm so impressed. Not. GET OFF MY LAWN.

Oh, and they forgot about magnetic drums. :-P

the good old days of data storage (2, Interesting)

Octel (809339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081491)

I had an older friend who was a CS student in college during the late 70's. He had his final semester program on punch cards. Like a typical student he was rushing to class to turn in his project but tripped on the stairs thus sending the cards all over the place. You could hear his anguish miles away!

Re:the good old days of data storage (3, Interesting)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081777)

I'm not saying it didn't happen to him (it is a good urban myth), but there were tools and procedures available to prevent it. Punched cards (for Fortran programs at least) had a sequence field in the last 8 columns [] for sorting decks, and usually you'd draw a diagonal line across the top of the card stack with a marker so that you could manually resort them if a sorter wasn't available.

If you look at the layout for a fortran program, you'll see that it was heavily influenced by the punched card layout, or vice-versa.

Re:the good old days of data storage (4, Interesting)

cbelt3 (741637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081959)

NOT an urban legend. Happened to me with a 550 card program at Mizzou in 1975. I was running through the halls to go get it punched on the auto-collator (I think that's what it was called- a machine that punched the extra columns on the right (73 through 80) in sequence so you could resort the cards. And I tripped, and the cards went flying.

Fortunately I had a printout because I'd just run the program, so I just went back and keypunched the whole damn thing. And left the cards in the hall. I was a faster typist than a sorter.

Re:the good old days of data storage (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082221)

Ouch! I'm sure that it happened to many people, hence the sequence number field. His was a FOAF-style story, so it smelled a little urban legend-y to me.

For what it's worth, I missed out on punched cards, but did use punched paper tape. In fact, I still have the bootloader for a Concurrent 32xx series computer on punched tape somewhere - I saw it while packing to move. What was cool was the part number was punched in the leader like you would see from a dot matrix printer [] . Clever!

Re:the good old days of data storage (2, Funny)

markana (152984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082305)

Yup, the line across the top trick saved me once or twice in High School. I moved from a school with PDPs and TTYs for the students to one with an 029 keypunch and daily trips to the computer building. Talk about a downgrade... But you quickly learn to protect your card stack.

On the last day of our Senior year, the computer geeks brought out the carefully-collected chad from the keypunch - and rained it down the 5-story main stairwells. I'll bet there's chad in there to this day...

Re:the good old days of data storage (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083335)

Another thing to do, if your card punch did not print the code at the top of the card, was to have JCL cards to just print everything in between. This worked for small stuff, like college assignments, but not great for real world programs.

Someplace I still have a card deck, a DEC tape, and a write-protect ring for a tape reel.

Re:the good old days of data storage (2, Interesting)

ebh (116526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082651)

Happened to me too. Only I didn't drop the deck down the stairs, I dropped it into a mud puddle. I was able to salvage about a quarter of the cards, and had to repunch the rest. Fortunately, I'd used one of those fancy Univac keypunches that printed the characters across the tops of the cards. Also, I wasn't close to deadline, so it was just a PITA instead of a disaster.

And yes, I also remember the diagonal magic marker line trick.

Oh yes, it did happen, no myth (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082747)

I remember the disaster when two engineers had to take an FEA program and data to the mainframe half way across the country. On the way someone came out in front of them at a T-junction and the driver had to brake really hard. They just missed the idiot and carried on to Rugby. When they opened the boot they found it full of random oriented punch cards, the cardboard box having been flung about. There was no option but to return, re-sort all the cards, and book another trip.

Youth of today, what do they know? I was the first person in the company to have a mag tape to mag tape assembler, but I had to write my own FP library because the supplier failed to deliver in time.

Re:the good old days of data storage (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082871)

You could hear his anguish miles away!

The only significant risk would be losing or damaging a card. A damaged card would have to be repunched.

The MOST POPULAR program on the mainframe was SORT. It would take a "shuffled deck" (out of order program deck) and sort it back into order. That program got ran quite a few times a day, every day. So getting your deck shuffled really wasn't that big of a deal. More dramatic than damaging.

The Egyptians said it best: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081501)

Bird : Bird : Giant Eye : Pyramid : Bird : Giant Eye : Dead Fish : Cat Head : Cat Head : Cat Head :

Re:The Egyptians said it best: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082169)

+5 Informative to the first person to translate this.

Re:The Egyptians said it best: (1)

up2ng (110551) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082971)

walk like an Egyptian in "Simpsonese"

I dont remember the episode though

geek points!! (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081503)

I have used every one of those.

I have even edited programs on paper tape with a pair of scissors and scotch tape.

Just call me Sid.

Re:geek points!! (2, Interesting)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082327)

Yeah - those early "storage" media were more than just for transporting your program around. They were also patchable. Fixing typos on punched cards was always fun - you fed a fresh card into the machine and held down the auto-repeat duplicate button which sounded like a machine gun as it sucked in the old/new cards and punched the new one up to the point of the error where you'd start typing again. I loved that noise!

I also remember burning programs onto EPROMs for early machines like the BBC Micro or embedded projects. You could edit those to a limited extent too... rather than so back and fix the source and reassemble for minor changes you'd just load the bad ROM image into the EPROM programmer and patch the hex directly and burn a new one...

Get the fuck off my lawn you whippersnappers!

My history of storage (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081505)

My first encounter with computer storage was utility bills. "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate". Smart-ass that I am I always stapled the check to them.

Then I bought a Timex-Sinclair 1000, which used cassette as storage.

My mom brought her work portable home about the same time, and wanted me to help her get it working. It used five and a half inch floppies; I don't remember the capacity, but you had to have the OS floppy in one drive and the other drive was used for data.

I bought a used IBM XT with its ten meg hard drive, and WOW what an amazing amount of storage it was! Afterwards I installed bigger and bigger drives, among other components. At one time that XT was a 386, the only original parts were the case, power supply, and keyboard.

This of course was followed by less quaint forms of storage.

Ahh, the memories...

Jaz Drive (4, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081507)

I worked with a bunch of Jaz Drives back in the day. One person dropped a disk, and it failed. The disk was inserted into a drive, and the drive failed. Another disk was inserted into that drive, and that disk failed. It spread like a plague through all of the machines.

All of the money and data lost due to those things still makes me cringe.

Re:Jaz Drive (3, Informative)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081813)

The Jaz was just a bad idea is all. It was basically just an HDD, but instead of a single integrated system, you separate the media from the heads. Why is this a terrible idea? 1) dirty media will destroy heads right quick. 2) allowing people to move the media around, and even encouraging such behavior astronomically increases the chances you are going to get something bad onto the media. 3) Once a head goes, the whole thing is gone. Without fancy new stuff that goes into the freshest HDD's, this can mean that once the head goes you drive it straight into the media, forever destroying it and causing a general mess. 4) Instead of a nice pretty clean room environment (HDD's are sealed in a clean room), you introduce a bunch of dirtyness and nasty environmental particles every time you put a new disk into the reader.

Re:Jaz Drive (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082159)

How does that differ from 3.5" floppies? Oh. That's right: it doesn't.

Re:Jaz Drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082425)

The tolerances and differences in magnetic density between a floppy drive and a Jaz drive are orders of magnitude, and don't tell me you've never had a bad floppy.

Re:Jaz Drive (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083425)

How far is the head from the media in a 3.5" floppy? And in an HDD? What sort of substrate is used in a 3.5" floppy? And in an HDD? How big is the head in a 3.5" floppy? And in an HDD? How robust are 3.5" heads to degrading? And HDD Heads?

Re:Jaz Drive (2, Informative)

jschen (1249578) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081993)

This "click of death", or "hardware virus", affected the Zip drive, too. I let a friend borrow my computer once in 2000, and I returned to find my Zip drive affected. Iomega told me that since my Zip drive was an OEM part, I should contact Apple for a replacement. Apple wouldn't do anything about it (not for free, anyway) since it was out of warranty. So I called Iomega back up and explained what happened when I contacted Apple, and true to their recent (at the time) promise to replace every Zip drive that was affected with this problem, they replaced my Zip drive, free of charge. I continued to use it for some time after that, last using it in 2003. I assume it still works, though I haven't had reason to check.

Re:Jaz Drive (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082127)

I've heard of the "click of death" on the Zip drive. More people know about the problems with the Zip since it was more widely adopted than the Jaz (likely due to the Jaz drive's price).

However, I should add, this failure occurred within a mater of months/weeks after the hardware was purchased. In contrast, I own several Zip drives and have never experienced the "click of death."

Re:Jaz Drive (1)

blackjackshellac (849713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082341)

I ran a university computer department in the late 80s and early 90s, and I can verify that the "click of death" was a very common problem. IT was all the more embarrassing because I was encouraging people to buy the damn things before the problem started manifesting itself. It's funny thinking back on that era, in retrospect at least because it was no fun being there, when removqable storage technology was soooooo unreliable.

Re:Jaz Drive (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083561)

I have known people to do the same thing with the old CDC drives. The washing machine sized ones with the little blue cover for the removable media. It's possible they could have destroyed more hardware by trying to boil a live gorilla in the machine room, but not by much.

what about hard drives? (4, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081515)

It manages to list lots of faliures and successes, but still managed to miss HDD's and SSD, y'know, the sporta thing where people probably store most of their data

Re:what about hard drives? (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082573)

OOOh, right you are! Big lapse, that. A bit like listing key events in WW II while skipping over Pearl Harbor!

A couple of other bits of sloppiness:

No, Hollerith cards had nothing to do with the founding of IBM. John Watson did that much later, by merging several companies that included Hollerith's Tabulating Machines Company. People called them "IBM cards" because IBM dominated data processing during the period where punched cards were the only digital storage medium most people knew about.

Although IBM did invent 9-track tape [] , I don't recall it ever being referred to as "IBM tape".

Ironically, given their IBM-centric view of history, that they left out the hard disk. Nowadays, all hard disks use Winchester technology — invented at IBM!

Ah memories (1)

drewvr6 (1400341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081561)

When I started college they still had their keypunch machine sitting in the computer room. Thank Dog we were already onto those keyboards with the lined paper feeding through the middle. People would fight to get one of the two available CRTs. When I started my first job our printer was booted/connected using punch cards. Suddenly... I... feel... old.

Look for monkeys flying out my ass... (0)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081593)

They had me going until this point:

Going forward, look for the eSATA interface to become more prominent.

While I would dearly love to see eSATA become more than at best a niche interface, its not going to happen. USB3 with backwards compatibility and Firewire poised to hit 3.2GB/s in it's next standard, I wouldn't bet the farm on eSATA becoming more popular than either standard.
On another note, they mention the MD card, but none of Sony's other forays into proprietary storage systems. One could probably devote a whole article in itself to Sony's endless attempts to release a storage system only compatible with Sony products and have it gain main stream acceptance.

Was this published in 2001?? (2, Interesting)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081633)

This entire article seems a little anachronistic.

and only recently has it become common to find new PCs with a naked 3.5-inch drive bay.

What are they talking about? I haven't seen a new PC with a floppy drive in years.

Re:Was this published in 2001?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27082261)

and only recently has it become common to find new PCs with a naked 3.5-inch drive bay.

Naked = empty = without floppy drive.

Many machines still had floppy drives in them less than 2 years ago (depending on vendor and class).

5.25" (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081713)

5.25" floppies were only used until '82? I was using them well into 1992...

Re:5.25" (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081909)

5.25" floppies were only used until '82? I was using them well into 1992...

Yeah, for a period of time, before and after the year 1990, Having both floppy drives meant you had a "Multi Media" system. Not to be confused with the multimedia CD-ROM/sound card packaged available around that time.

Re:5.25" (1)

duanco (958176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081927)

heh, still know of one in use to troubleshoot some 3390 drives, of course we need to manually spin the drive to get it working, but then it works fine :) and that is in 2005 last I know of

tape ape... (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081727)

This article reminds me of my first MOS in the Marine Corps, I was supposedly a "Main Frame Operator", a fancy way of saying I was supposed to be a tape ape. This was in 1993. They've since changed that MOS to a generic Computer Operator. The good thing for me? I never touched a main frame the entire time I was in. (after I got out, that's a different story)

Hmm, it appears my "real" MOS 4066 has now been turned into a strictly programming MOS. Interesting. At the time they were a different MOS, 4067 I think. 4066 used to be small systems specialist or some such crap. I did networking, Banyan Vines and then later, NT 3.51 support. Banyan was such an underrated server OS. Loved it. Novell and Microsoft really ripped those guys off.

They missed the Sinclair "stringy floppy" (3, Informative)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081825)

Not that they really missed much by doing so...

This was another of Sinclair's cheap and cheerful designs that never took off - it was used on the Sinclair MX and QL (remember that? - thought not!) computers. The stringy floppy was a small form factor hybrid between a floppy and tape drive. The tapes themself were about the size of a compact flash drive, although a bit fatter, and what they contained was a continuous loop of tape three-dimensionally arranged so that the bulk of it was looped around one spindle, and the other end was looped around another... I'm not sure what the point of it was really meant to be other than the physical small size.. I guess the endless tape loop was meant to give it some advantage.

Re:They missed the Sinclair "stringy floppy" (1)

HolyCrapSCOsux (700114) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081953)

Just like in an 8-Track, the tape loop makes it so that reversing the tape's direction of travel is not needed

18th Century? (1)

dimeorj (1385357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081889)

I wasn't aware that punch cards were created in the 1700s

Re:18th Century? (1)

dimeorj (1385357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081957)

D'oh, I should have RTFA more closely. I didn't see the dates below the picture, just noticed 18th century followed by 1881. Still, I actually was not aware that they were that old.

Re:18th Century? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27081961)

The Jacquard Loom used them, though if Wikipedia is right, it just missed the 1700s

What about virtual drives? (1)

hamanaka (894048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27081979)

virtual storage will change the business model of hard drive manufacturing companies. keep an eye on EMC.

IBM Reference (4, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082101)

To get a better look at where storage came from, head on over to IBM's Archives: [] Then check out the historical product profiles, documentation and videos: []

Cool old stuff (1)

wmrbarker (1493015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082359)

I keep two old technologies around to show others how far we've come: punch cards and a thicknet vampire tap. Most at least know about punch cards, but not many have ever heard of a vampire tap. That usually generates a "you're sh*ting me" kind of response.

Punch Cards (2, Interesting)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082389)

Back in my childhood, my dad took a couple thousands of those phased out punch cards... we used them to takes notes for YEARS, we just had a lot of them... at least all that paper was used for transferring information, even if not used for it's original purpose...

MaximumPC helps IBM disseminate misinformation (4, Informative)

metasonix (650947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082547)

Quote: "The long length presented plenty of opportunities for tears and breaks, so in 1952, IBM devised bulky floor standing drives that made use of vacuum columns to buffer the nickel-plated bronze tape."

Wrongo, buddy. Stop cribbing from IBM's website. IBM is notorious for making themselves out as "pioneers" for every computing technology.

The first magnetic-tape drive for a computer to ACTUALLY BE SHIPPED was the Univac Uniservo drive. First system with drives went to the US Census Bureau in December 1951--more than a year before IBM shipped their first tape drive. (and yes, it used nickel-plated bronze tape.)

Re:MaximumPC helps IBM disseminate misinformation (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082999)

I thought it was funny that they said IBM, but the picture was Univac.

Zip, Jaz, ...Rev? (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082551)

Why did they hit on Zip and Jaz, but leave off Rev drives?

Paper tape (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082965)

From TFA:

In 1966, HP introduced the 2753A Tape Punch, which boasted a blistering fast tape pinch speed of 120 characters per second and sold for $4,150.

The paper tape system developed for the Colossus project was a bit more impressive: they settled on 5000 char/s, but found they could crank up the speed to about 9000 char/s before the tape would disintegrate. The fastest commercial system I could find got 2000 char/s, with burst speeds up to 10x that.

No WInchester drives ? (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27082985)

In 1980 a Gigabyte of memory was a large room full of Winchester drives. If you did computing on IBMs back then, you used (although maybe never saw) Winchester drives.

I liked drum drives too - not much space, but they looked cool.

But, watch out for fan-folded punched paper tape. As the paper aged, it would crack on the folds.

I always loved punch tape (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083089)

and it was fun to make the operator have to deal with it... of course, nothing was better than shuffling your roommates program deck.

Missed ours (2, Insightful)

hurfy (735314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083399)

Seems to be focused on REMOVABLE media since they skipped most HD info entirely.

They still missed what i used for many years, the removable platter or disk pack. I fought with our Wang computer for over 10 years doing backup onto a 13MB removable HD platter. 80MB drive with multiple platters, the top one being a removable cartridge. Lugged one (well, two actually) of those suckers home each week for ages.

At least i won that fight...the Wang now sits vanquished in my dungeon...waiting until i get brave enough to turn off everything else in the house and see if it still fires up :) Everyone needs at least one Hard Drive that weighs more than they do!

I agree some of the dates were a little premature...common manufacture dates perhaps, not usage.

And then there is the not so common dates....we still use the T1000 Travan tape drive daily and the Jaz drive is still hooked up :)

CD,DVD,BLU RAY = 1 scratch and its worthless (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083597)

Thats the main problem I see, these major storage mediums of today have no durability. A bit of dust wiped in and your 30$ blu ray gets stuck or skips. I have had some you cant even see the scratch and they no longer play. CDs still would pretty much play with some scratches, DVD a bit more picky and Blu Rays extremely poor at reading imperfect disks. The other major problem is their size, you cant stick a disk in your pocket, or not with out the case poking you. I am looking forward to everything being on solid state. Movies, music, games, all come on flash cards or drives. No moving parts to break on your player either.

Where on the list... (1)

Nyckname (240456) | more than 5 years ago | (#27083627)

are drums and, from a period in the '80s, using VCRs?

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