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50th Anniversary of the First Hard Drive

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the whirrr-click dept.

225

ennuiner writes "Over at Newsweek Steven Levy has a column commemorating IBM's introduction of the first hard drive 50 years ago. The drive was the size of two refrigerators, weighed a ton, and had a vast 5MB capacity. They also discuss the future of data storage." From the article: "Experts agree that the amazing gains in storage density at low cost will continue for at least the next couple of decades, allowing cheap peta-bytes (millions of gigabytes) of storage to corporations and terabytes (thousands of gigs) to the home. Meanwhile, drives with mere hundreds of gigabytes will be small enough to wear as jewelry."

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Who needs this thing, (4, Funny)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813531)

I'll never use up so much space!

Re:Who needs this thing, (0)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813618)

I'll never use up so much space!
The fact of the matter is that as technology advances, programs will get bigger and bigger as disk and memory cost goes down, and the need to conserve memory and drive space become less important. It's been that way for many years.

Re:Who needs this thing, (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813691)

What if you want to download the entire Internet? Man, now that would really clog up the tubes.

Re:Who needs this thing, (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813743)

I download all of my internets right when I turn on my computer. That way I can read the internets later. I didn't realize internets were so big.

Re:Who needs this thing, (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813756)

Every disk gets full after about 1-1.5 month. It's an unbreachable law, true for every disk that sees some use.

A kid will fill it with games, a teenager will fill it with pr0n, most my friends will fill it with movies. I will fill it with random versions of package sources; molecular biologists I once built a 17TB array for filled it with copies of already processed detector output -- instead of deleting them, they left them "just in case".

Capacity is irrelevant, the time is pretty much constant.

Re:Who needs this thing, (5, Funny)

duke12aw (936319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813859)

as a 17 year old i can speak from experience. you are 100% correct but there are also video games. maybe if i uninstalled the video games i would get the real thing.... wait a minute! i think i had an epiffany!

Re:Who needs this thing, (3, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 8 years ago | (#15814049)

Computer data is a gas; It expands to fill its container.

=Smidge=

Re:Who needs this thing, (1)

phospher (991658) | about 8 years ago | (#15814071)

good because I will use that much space!

Nice (1, Insightful)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813532)

I can see in 10 years from now instead of medium like disks (dvd, bluray, hd-dvd, cds) everything will be stored on harddrives because of the constant advances in technology.

At last... (4, Funny)

Sixtyten (991538) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813542)

Experts agree that the amazing gains in storage density at low cost will continue for at least the next couple of decades, allowing cheap peta-bytes (millions of gigabytes) of storage to corporations and terabytes (thousands of gigs) to the home.
Finally, hard drives big enough to run Windows Vista will exist.

As always.... (2, Insightful)

MuNansen (833037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813544)

"Experts agree that the amazing gains in storage density at low cost will continue for at least the next couple of decades, allowing cheap peta-bytes (millions of gigabytes) of storage to corporations and terabytes (thousands of gigs) to the home. Meanwhile, drives with mere hundreds of gigabytes will be small enough to wear as jewelry..." ...this probably means that we're about to hit a development wall. We know how good experts are at predicting these kinds of things.

Re:As always.... (2, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813596)

That's because it _is_ about to hit a wall: atoms. After that hard disks will start getting bigger, and eventually something more space-efficient will replace them.

Re:As always.... (5, Interesting)

iPatch (540117) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813693)

Exactly. I'm wondering who these experts are anyways as we're about to hit a major wall in the next decade. We've been reducing the spacing between the transducer (read-write element) and magnetic media in HDD for about 50 years now. Each year the transducer gets closer to the disk and, as a result, storage densities have been going up. However, within a few years, we won't be able to get closer without having to worry about intermolecular forces [wikipedia.org] that come into play at spacings below 5nm. These can cause serious flying problems for a slider in a hard disk drive.

To get closer to the disk, many researchers are looking at actually running a disk with the slider in contact with the disk. From a mechanics standpoint, that's just frightening. When you think about the friction and wear this will cause on the nanometer thin films on a disk platter, the outlook it isn't all that good...

Now I will say that people have been predicting the demise of the hard disk drive for decades. For example, they never thought it would be possible to fly a slider at spacings less than the mean free path of air (~65nm) but HDD sliders currently fly with a minimum spacing of about 7-12nm. HDD Engineers have been able to overcome every major technical of the last 50 years and have, so far, won the cost per GB storage war. Even so, I'm curious how they'll get over the hurdles of the next decade as they're looking pretty frightening.

Re:As always.... (2, Interesting)

ChronoReverse (858838) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813727)

Easy way to continue. 3D storage. We're still storing the bits on a platter surface. While we have multiple platters, that's not quite the same. In any case, if we actually get the physical bits down to atomic sizes, even in 2D it'd be pretty immense. Can someone do a back of the napkin calculation for this?

Re:As always.... (2, Funny)

Skevin (16048) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813808)

It's not so much peta-bytes I'm interested, falafel-bytes. Mmmm yummy!

(unless we're talking about the other kind of peta-bytes, the ones associated with animal rights people...)

Solomon

Hard disk encryption for (c) holders? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813545)

FTA:
Kryder of Seagate and Healy of Hitachi assure us that new disk-drive features like built-in encryption will protect copyright holders and our own personal records

What the fuck is this, some new trusted computing drm scheme I never heard of?

Re:Hard disk encryption for (c) holders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813660)

Nope. The idea was bounced around a couple years ago and made such a giant stink that it was quickly (supposedly) buried. Too tired to find links.

It's possible that Microsoft shoehorns this in a future versions of windows. At first there may be noise (by techies), but like the DMCA it will become an inevitable accepted thorn.

I hope that I'm wrong. I also hope that something can be done with a runaway copyright law. I also hope that Hatch will not get re-elected.

Re:Hard disk encryption for (c) holders? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813732)

If you havent heard of it already, you must be the only one.

5MB? (2, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813550)

Five MEGABYTES? Holy crap! My 5.25" floppy disks only hold 170K!!

(my thoughts during the reign of Commodore)

5.25" Floopy drives???? (2, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813655)

When I was a youngen we only had 8" drives .. and we liked it.

Actually I last used 8" drives in a commerical system in 1986 . not so long ago.

...and when was the first hard drive crash? (4, Interesting)

mattkime (8466) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813551)

...and when was the first hard drive crash?

Does anyone know?

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (4, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813580)

When one of the janitors tried to wash the towels in it and didn't balance the load properly. After that, the HD had a tendency to vibrate hard enough to move across the room.

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813601)

no no no you got it all wrong everyone knows the 1st hard drive crash happened when bill gates introduced a little program called windows

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 8 years ago | (#15814092)

When Bill Gates first introduced Windows, it was small enough to run off floppy disks. I know, because I ran it for a few purposes back then.

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 8 years ago | (#15814113)

its funny i actually just got the OG windows, like 14 floppys or some shit (i collect old software)now i just need to find a machine to run it on and ill be set haha

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813621)

Probably the same day, or at least the same week. The disk platters were open to the air, and the read-write head "flew" a few micrometers above the disk surface, kept apart only by the cushioning effect of the air. If a speck of dust got between the head and the platter, the head would crash into the platter like an airplane that had lost its wings. Probably where our notion of "system crash" comes from, come to think of it.

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813701)

Those early harddrives were much more rugged than that. A friend had a retired Alpha Micro (same-ish era as the PDP11). You could spin up those harddrives by hand and they still worked. (These were the same machines that could also back up their data to handy VHS tapes.)

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813765)

Dude, Alpha Micro wasn't even founded until 1977. That's a day or two after 1956.

Flying platters (2, Interesting)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813667)

One of my friends told me a story about one of those ancient hard drives (I believe he said it was from a professor) with the gigantic platters in the huge boxes. Well apparently, the drive head was moving back and forth fast enough to really shake the cabinet, which ended up dislodging one of the platters, which broke free from its case, rolled across the hallway of the building where it was being stored, then proceeded to smash through a brick wall and finally land on top of an employee's car in the adjacent parking lot completely crushing a good portion of it. I have my doubts if this was actually true, but it's still damn funny.

Re:Flying platters (2, Interesting)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813822)

Probably untrue, but there were certainly some old HDDs which could stall in a certain way and 'walk' across the floor, typically as far as their power cords would reach.

Re:Flying platters (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 8 years ago | (#15814047)

there were certainly some old HDDs which could stall in a certain way and 'walk' across the floor,

Our local uni had a couple of Ferranti drum drives that would regularly walk around their bays. They looked like top-loading washing machines. Apparently, bolting them to the floor would have reduced the life of the bearings

Re:Flying platters (1)

v1 (525388) | about 8 years ago | (#15814035)

Hard to sort out from urban legend, but reminds me of something I heard awhile ago. Apparently this was in the era of "drum memory". These units were about the size of a washing machine, and operated about the same. Big spinning drum inside a bit like the basket in the washing machine. Spinning quickly of course. Very high mass, it was metal and iron and spinning fast, a lot of energy in that thing when it was spun up. Normally takes 3-5 minutes to spin up to operating speed and longer to stop. Anyway, he apparently went to service the drive because it was making noise. Just before he got there, they are guessing the drum's brake siezed. (it was probably rubbing, making the noise) Anyway, high mass high speed spinning object stops suddenly. Newton's laws take over, and rip all four bolt-down points off the concrete floor as the centrifical inertia rips the unit off the fasteners, and the unit immediately flips on its side and comes tumbling sideways for the guy approaching to fix it. Chase ensues for a short distance. Fortunately this was not a geek-seeking clothes watcher, and it found its way to a stairwell which it tumbled down and finally came to a stop at the bottom of.

Eeep! Getting chased by a posessed clothes washer. Not good.

I'm assuming they lost all their data, heh...

Re:...and when was the first hard drive crash? (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813809)

Beh. I personally managed to stop an entire datacenter of washing machines. As a toddler.

The thing is, in communism there is a shortage of everything, including places in kindergarten. So, my mom used to take me to work, just like many of her friends. And one day, I decided to run around, reaching up and flipping every disk power switch -- the disks had separate power switches, on about the height of the panel of a washing machine. That is, within the reach of a stretched out hand of a kid.

Punch Cards? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813552)

The drive was the size of two refrigerators, weighed a ton, and had a vast 5MB capacity.

Couldn't they have made an optical punch card reader that would fit into the space of two refrigerators? And stored 5MB worth of punch cards?

I'm not criticizing, just asking if that technology was around 50 years ago.

Re:Punch Cards? (2, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813604)

Then you have the interesting problems of random access to the cards and re-writable cards.

Not criticizing you, just taking the idea further.

Re:Punch Cards? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813653)

There are ways around those problems, like having some kind of feed device to access the cards randomly and feed in new cards as needed. All beside the point, because such a device would be horribly complicated, and therefore unreliable. Anything you can do do reduce the number of mechanical parts in a device makes it more reliable. And magnetic recording is a lot less mechanical than punching holes in paper.

Re:Punch Cards? (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813863)

All beside the point, because such a device would be horribly complicated, and therefore unreliable.

Obviously. But there is beauty* in the impractical and inelegant solution. Think Rube Goldberg's machines.

*humor

Re:Punch Cards? (3, Insightful)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813648)

Well, let's see... apologies in advance for getting the numbers wrong, I always mess up my conversions (but it doesn't matter as you'll see at the end).
But 5 Mb = 5 242 880 bytes = 41 943 040 bits (that is assuming I got it right)

Now, I don't know exactly what sort of resolution you had on punch cards, but it's probably fair to assume that, including padding, a centimeter squared would do per bit. so you need 41 943 040 cm^2 = 4 194.304 square meters of punch cards. Now say, just for the sake of the argument, that your punch cards are 30x 30 = 900cm^2, you would need 46 603.3777.... of them. And then it all boils down to how thin your punch cards can be, but just intuitively, I'd say, yeah, you can easily fill up that space with 5Mb worth of punch cards.

But then again, you are missing the entire point. Punch cards are not rewritable, hard disks are and that is the innovative bit. So it doesn't matter whether or not you can put punch cards in that space, it's all about being able to reuse said space.

Re:Punch Cards? (1)

blibbler (15793) | about 8 years ago | (#15813924)

The most common format of punch cards had 80 columns of 12 holes... and a surface area of about 155cm^2, and a thickness of 0.018cm, giving a bit density of about 345bits per cm^3
5MB of punch cards would come to about 0.12 m^3

As for them not being re-writable, from what I have heard from US elections recently, I wouldn't be so sure.

Re:Punch Cards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15813999)

That's right they could have fuuzy logic built in like the democrat election board and decide any punch card not punched should have been a vote for the tree hugger and automatically paperclipped it out.

Re:Punch Cards? (2, Interesting)

Drishmung (458368) | about 8 years ago | (#15814055)

A punch card was 80 columns, of 12 rows, that is, 960 bits per card. (In binary mode. EBCDIC encoded only 8 bits per column, but you could do a binary dump to cards). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_card [wikipedia.org]

5MB = 5 x 1024 x 1024 x 8 bits, which would require 43,690.67 cards. That's about 9 boxes of cards, at 5,000 cards per box; or 25 linear ft of 'deck' . I'd say the punch card density was about 4 times better than the hard drive (not allowing for the size of the card reader/punch though).

At 1,000 cards per minute read speed (although some readers ran at 1,400 or better) it would require 44 minutes just to read the cards, i.e. a transfer rate of 16kps. It would be challenging to play an MP3 off that.

Now. imagine Vista on punch cards...

Re:Punch Cards? (1)

v1 (525388) | about 8 years ago | (#15814062)

1cm2 would be extremely generous. Recalculate assuming the punches are vertical rectangles 1.5mm wide and 4mm high, with about a 1mm gap between them on all sides, borders are about 1/2 inch, and the cards themselves are oh... 4.5" x 8" or so. Expect at least three rows unused for written identification and card numbering. (god forbid you "drop a deck". you'll be running to the nearest reader and loading the "sort" program!)

I never got to use one, but I've seen them more than once. There's a funky hand-operated card puncher in the case in the tech building. Looks a bit like an old adding machine.

Bit density (1)

viking2000 (954894) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813796)

Couldn't they have made an optical punch card reader that would fit into the space of two refrigerators? And stored 5MB worth of punch cards?

The bit density of this drive was:

Area: 50 platters x pi()x (r=.305m)^2 = 14.6m^2

Bits: 5MB x 10b/B=50,000,000 bits + a few for housekeeping

Density: ~4 bits/mm^2

This is similar to 8 track 128CPI tape. Ticker tape or punchcard certainly had much lower density.

With this density you could actually see the bits directly with a magnetic loupe, and read off the data visually.

Re:Punch Cards? (2, Informative)

loose electron (699583) | about 8 years ago | (#15813976)

Magentic tape already existed at the time, no need for that.

The whole idea was "random access" not "serial access" - punch cards and mag tape you need to shuffle thru the pile of cards, or run down the tape end to end.

My first HD (4, Interesting)

Jhon (241832) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813556)

Sadly, I still have my first hard drive. A 20 meg RLL monster I purchased some 20 odd years ago. I can't just throw it away. I had to finance that sucker -- it ran me nearly $900 (more like $1400 after interest). And it STILL works.

So it sits on my shelf, collects dust and I complain about not being able to throw it away... And my belly-aching about it started when I picked up my first video card which had more memory than my first hard drive. I'm sure those two events aren't unrelated.

Re:My first HD (1)

badman99 (674229) | about 8 years ago | (#15813963)

I used to tie an onion to my belt, because it was the fashion at the time.

Re:My first HD (1)

in_repose (985442) | about 8 years ago | (#15813968)

You say it still works yet it is sitting on the shelf? One or the other, please, but not both.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! (3, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813569)

Meanwhile, drives with mere hundreds of gigabytes will be small enough to wear as jewelry. "You'll have with you every album and tune you've ever bought, every picture you've ever taken, every tax record," says Bill Healy, an executive at Hitachi, which acquired IBM's storage business in 2003.


Not if the MPAA, RIAA, and BSA have their way,you won't. You'll RENT software, not own it, you'll pay-for-play music and video, and you will be THANKFUL for the privilege of doing so!

Thankfully, I think that the **AA and BSA will utimately lose.

Re:Wrong, wrong, wrong! (0, Offtopic)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813649)

Not if the MPAA, RIAA, and BSA have their way,you won't. You'll RENT software, not own it, you'll pay-for-play music and video, and you will be THANKFUL for the privilege of doing so!

At this point, the RIAA needs to convince people that it's worth paying anything, let alone per-play. In this one particular situation we happen to have the power.

As a side note, you've really made me want to write a punch-card based MP3 player.

Re:Wrong, wrong, wrong! (1)

Zorque (894011) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813735)

Now the RIAA is hiring Boy Scouts to strongarm citizens? Shameful!

Since we're talking Hard-Drives (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813570)

Remember, Get Perpendicular [hitachigst.com]

We still need speed... (3, Insightful)

VikingThunder (924574) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813581)

With a terabyte HDD, I surely hope they finally find some way to dramatically increase the transfer rates. We haven't seen much change in that in quite a while.

Re:We still need speed... (1)

MS_Word (877966) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813848)

SATA-IO plans to further increase the maximum throughput of Serial ATA to 600 MB/s around the year 2007.

from wikipedia

thats MB not Mb too. Basically an entire cd-r in a second when you think about it.

or if you use this definition: "It has been estimated that the books in the U.S. Library of Congress, one of the largest libraries in the world, would contain a total of about 20 terabytes if scanned in text format."

then its one library of congress per 9.7 hours... thats an overnight backup!

ok, figures and calculations could be way off, its late i'm tired

Re:We still need speed... (1)

VikingThunder (924574) | about 8 years ago | (#15813893)

How about the actual disk access? A single hard drive has yet to even be able to max out even ATA-133 transfer rates, nonetheless SATA150 or SATA300.

Re:We still need speed... (1)

MS_Word (877966) | about 8 years ago | (#15813977)

Oh yeah, wasnt even thinking about that. It's late.

We could possily end up using hybrid solid state and magnetic hard drvies. Write a GB to the disk and it stores it in the solid state cache within seconds, then writes it over the next minute to the magnetic disk. To a user it would be seamless. Best of both worlds. You culd also use the solid state area for your OS. Hmmm...

There is the possibility that what I jsut said was complete rubbish but a slim chance its not...

Re:We still need speed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15814089)

Transfer rate or access rate? Transfer rate is simply the bit density of the drive multiplied by the rotation speed. Access speed is a bit more difficult and is mostly affected by the size of the drive (i.e. the smaller the platter radius the lower the access time) plus the rotation speed.

Transfer rates have already been going up. Any time that the bitrate increases (as in the move towards perpendicular recording), the transfer rate usually increases as well. Unless the electronics aren't up to it.

I have a pair of longitudanal 500GB seagates that average 25-28MB/s copying from drive to drive in WinXP. Note that is not *burst* speed, but the transfer rate averaged over a sample size of 288 seconds. It's not bad, but not great, but it is sustained transfer rate. And since the hard drive light is not solidly lit, there's room for improvement.

It really won't be until the 2nd generation of perpendicular drives comes out that we'll even be close to burying the SATA-1 spec in throughput. At least for sustained transfer rates.

Hard! (5, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813592)

Usual /. sloppiness with language. What we call a hard drive uses Winchester Technology [webopedia.com] where the drive platters are sealed in an airtight contain. Ubiguitous now, but anybody old enough remembers the old big drives where the platters were bare, like modern floppies. Very sensitive to dust.

Saying that the hard drive was invented 50 years ago implies that before that people used floppies. In fact, this was the first disk drive of any kind.

Re:Hard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813777)

i bet sumthing that weights 1000 kg. and the size of 2 refrigerators must be hard!!!

Nomenclature (1, Troll)

ennuiner (144711) | about 8 years ago | (#15813990)

Since I suggested the story, I feel a little defensive and want to respond. The title of the article is "The Hard Disk That Changed the World," so if the language is sloppy, the sloppiness is on the part of Newsweek and not me. Since you're being picky, I'll point out that it's spelled "ubiquitous," not "ubiguitous."

Re:Hard! (1)

pete-classic (75983) | about 8 years ago | (#15814046)

What we call a hard drive uses Winchester Technology where the drive platters are sealed in an airtight contain. [sic]


They generally aren't sealed. Most drives have a breather hole. Presumably it is less objectionable to the manufacturers to have to restrict the operational altitude than to build them so they won't burst from a pressure change.

-Peter

What, no pictures? (4, Insightful)

Captain Perspicuous (899892) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813594)

That linked page shows a pic of the guy who wrote the story, several ads for magazines etc, an illustration with some distant link to the story, but what we all want are some pics of those huge disks. What's up with all those newspaper guys, haven't they learned yet that the web loves pictures? They (and by that I mean nearly every website of a newspaper all over the world) as if they just moved all their text-only content to the web without understanding those amazing new possibilities in the first place - and with the web now over 10 years old, I'm really starting to doubt if they will ever learn.

Re:What, no pictures? (2, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813750)

Most newspapers are used to bying rights to a picture for use in a single issue, for print purposes and for distrobution in a single market. Because they license dozens or hundreds of such images each day tey know exactly what they're getting into. Equally press photographers are used to licensing on this basis too.

When you need to license for the web you need extended rights - how long will you keep the article available for, across multiple markets. Newspapers are getting better at this, and will continue to do so, especially as they derive more and more revenue from the internet. For now though, we just have to wait.

Re:What, no pictures? (2, Insightful)

WuphonsReach (684551) | about 8 years ago | (#15814104)

So how long before we see news pictures on the web that aren't the size of a postage stamp?

(Pet peeve is sites where the main image is 300x240 and their "zoomed" image is 400x300.)

Re:What, no pictures? (3, Informative)

darkfish32 (909153) | about 8 years ago | (#15813904)

wikipedia has a nice article on the subject, here [wikipedia.org] , with at least one great picture.

or google image, like suggested above, though it is disappointing the original article didn't have pictures of the giants

Re:What, no pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15813925)

but what we all want are some pics of those huge disks


Cyperpr0n eh?

we all know who needs those TB's..... (0, Redundant)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813616)

the pr0n industry..... i dont know anyone with a TB of word files.... i guess when office 2012 comes out the files will all be 20 megs for 1 line or text, but until that day, HD pr0n here we cum!!!

Back of the Envelope Calculation (3, Informative)

Jazzer_Techie (800432) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813624)

I was just curious about how big a bit is going to be on these new drives, so I did a quick back of the envelope calculation (I actually used a scrap of paper bag.)

Let's take jewlery-sized to mean 1 cm^2 of usable area. And take 100s of GB to be 100 GB, or 10^11 bytes, so ~10^12 bits. Pop these in a 10^6 x 10^6 grid. Then we have 10^-2 / 10 ^ 6 = 10^-8 m to be the length/width of a bit. A hydrogen atom is ~ 10^-10m (I think Iron is ~2.5 times that size). So roughly, bits would be a maximum of 100 x 100 atoms, but probably more towards 50 x 50.

That is pretty small!

Re:Back of the Envelope Calculation (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813650)

Welcome to "blue-sky thinking", aka any old crap I can spout to fill up a column on a slow news day.

Re:Back of the Envelope Calculation (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813753)

Neat. Let's do the same calculation with the 50-year old drive. It has 5 mega-bytes = 5 x 10e6 bytes or approximately 5*10e7 bits. The storage unit is "the size of two refrigerators" or (my guess) 5' wide by 6' high by 3' deep or 5*6*3 = 90 cubic feet or 90*12e3 = 155520 cubic inches. 155530 / 5*10e7 = 1/321. Therefore the 50-year old drive had (very approximately) an average of 321 bits per cubic inch. .wk.

Re:Back of the Envelope Calculation (1)

aersixb9 (267695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813884)

You're assuming that the physical storage of the bits is geometric...when in fact one 'pixel' of hard disk resolution holds a large variety of magnetic values. (sort of like how there's 8 bits in a byte, there might be 100k bits on the smallest spot of hard disk the magnetic head can read)

Re:Back of the Envelope Calculation (1)

pipingguy (566974) | about 8 years ago | (#15813892)

I was just curious about how big a bit is going to be on these new drives

If the bit is vertical I guess that would mean taller hard drives, thus causing computer cases to get bigger. This is an obvious indicator of waste and largesse in modern western societies.

what boters me most... (4, Insightful)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813625)

"Kryder of Seagate and Healy of Hitachi assure us that new disk-drive features like built-in encryption will protect copyright holders and our own personal records."

so the drives themselves will prevent us from copying media TO them and/or prevented us from copying stuff FROM them ?

what's the potential for abuse here ? try to upgrade to windows BlindenessXP2010 with a leaked key and it'll tell the HD to lock all your files... scary though, isn't it ?

no thanks. i want my terabyte SATA IV disk to be a plain data storage thingie with no stings attached or any sort of "copy protection" or encription. I'll handle data-protection on software myself

Re:what boters me most... (2, Interesting)

loose electron (699583) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813814)

Encryption inherent to the drive was attempted over 10 years ago. There is no technology in the way of it, but it crashed and burned back then due to the fact that the world wants the HDD as a storage device, and the big brother stuff be kept up at a higher level in the system.

Sorta like the video telephone. Easy to do, but nobody really wanted it.

Back when Men were *real* Men... (1)

Cordath (581672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813644)

...and Hard Drives were *real* hardrives, and programmers were neurotic from writing code that had to take into account the spinning of the hard-drive and time their data accesses so that operations in a loop didn't wind up waiting for 2/3 of a physical rotation on each cycle...

Re:Back when Men were *real* Men... (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813875)

Less than twenty years ago I used to look at a sector map to decide where to put the index file and the data file - if you got it right they could both be read in the same revolution.

Ah, progress. (1)

ABoerma (941672) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813662)

And we'll probably be celebrating the arrival of Terabyte drives this year as well. Don't you love progress?

Re:Ah, progress. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813792)

eeerrrrmmmm, just to fill you in - I own 4 1TB drives, and yes they are pretty full. also when 2 major banks (who shall remain nameless here) mearged, and they wanted a single repository for all there customer data (3 or 4 years ago!) the total data they held on computer(S) was no more than 4TB, they now hold well over 16PB of customer data, and spending analasis, but this is nothing - Wallmart in the states hold (so I'm informed) over 1gb (and increasing fast) per unique customer, and more per employee.

50 Years later we're still using this nasty tech. (4, Interesting)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813665)

Oh hard drives how you curse me.

I love these things and I hate them, as an enthusiast I've always been a big fan of the high performance hard disk. I've done my best to learn about them, I've theorised about ways of speeding them up, I've discussed the technology with friends for hours at a time in a geek like fasion.

As much as I love a fast hard disk and I love a big hard disk I also hate these hard disks, because ultimately it's a very old fasioned method of storing our data, it's just some magnetic disc spinning same as it did 50 years ago.

When you really think about it, it's just a really extreme tape drive with better random access, there's moving parts, it's delicate, they can run hot, they can be noisy etc.

I recall my C64 as a boy, sure it had that weird "computer high pitch whine" to it but when the 1541-II wasn't reading data that baby was pretty damn quiet, I miss those days and hard disks don't help.

What we need is to finally see the end of the hard disk, some new method of storing data, something which holds more, reads and writes faster, less delicate and no moving parts - of course solid state sucks right now but damnit I recall discussing holographic drives storing data on a small cube the size of a peice of sugar at 2tb or something (so the rumours went, like 5 or 10 years ago)

The oven had the microwave replace it with a whole new tech, the television had the LCD / plasma, sending data has gone (at points) from copper to light - cmon where's the magnetic storage replacement, something to put us in the 21'st century?

So in conclusion, I love them but I also hate them - it's really time for something new,...

Re:50 Years later we're still using this nasty tec (1)

jrcamp (150032) | about 8 years ago | (#15813903)

There's a reason we're also still using the combustion engine: it's cheap and it works. It's also been vastly improved over time.

It's like you're saying your Honda Accord needs to be replaced by some new technology because it's the same thing as a Model T. It's obviously not. And the technology nor infrastructure does not yet exist to efficiently replace it.

The same concept applies here. We'll have something "new" as you say when the technology is available at a reasonable price.

Re:50 Years later we're still using this nasty tec (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 8 years ago | (#15813957)

I realise that nothing is out there yet which can replace it, that doesn't stop one hoping, especially with every couple of years an "amazing new technology" being announced but never making it to market.

The other problem is, right now if "they" released something which was bigger, faster, lighter, quieter than hard disks, it would either cost a boatload and fail or if it was priced correctly - destroy the hard disk industry as we know it over night.

I'm not much for conspiracy theories,...however I'm sure we've all heard that the automative industry would die overnight if the right engine were to be released (should it exist)- billions of dollars in re-tooling and re-designing thousands of types of cars would have to be done, all the old stock would be useless etc - so research comes in dribs and drabs rather than huge changes.

The same theory I think would apply to hard disks, perhaps there is something that could be done right now, who knows - but either way if it's introduced the wrong way it'll screw a huge industry, hence I'm sure they aren't working "as hard as possible" on a replacement,...

One can dream.

Re:50 Years later we're still using this nasty tec (2, Funny)

ijakings (982830) | about 8 years ago | (#15813908)

To quote the mighty bash.org

[ikkenai] i don't have hard drives. i just keep 30 chinese teenagers in my basement and force them to memorize numbers
 

It's all about evolution not revolution (1)

caseih (160668) | about 8 years ago | (#15813988)

The oven in my kitchen is a slightly evolved version of ovens 50 years ago. Heck even my microwave is just a slightly improved version of the first microwaves back in the late 70s. Some technologies have advanced, but others have just gotten slightly improved over the years, because as poor as they are, they are still the best. Consider the internal combustion engine. While computer controls have increased reliability and decreased emissions dramatically (and increased power and efficiency), the engine is basically unchanged from what it was in the 1920s. Overhead cams, mulitple valves per cylinder, super and turbo-chargers where around from the 20s. Even fuel injection has been here for years. Yet engines steadily improve in capability and power, even if we're using 100-year-old base technology. Similarly, until solid-state memory gets cheap enough and reliable enough, spinning magnetic disks will likely remain the main storage solution for years to come. And I think that's okay. I don't think it means we're somehow behind. No matter what technology comes along, I will always have a love/hate relationship with it.

Butterfly test (5, Funny)

viking2000 (954894) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813672)

In 1990, we had some brand new HP disks the size of a washing machine. Capacity 650MB.

Some software was written to move the head assembly from end to end. This would cause so much vibration the the whole machine would "walk" around.

The machine room had video cameras, and sometimes if you saw some maintenance people in the machine room, you would launch the "Butterfly test" on all the drives. They would come alive like a bad horror movie, and all walk around. The poor maintenance person would try to run out befor the exit got blocked.

Re:Butterfly test (2, Informative)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813845)

Walking drives predate 1990 by many years.

They've been part of the Jargon File [catb.org] since its inception.

Bueller? Bueller! (1, Flamebait)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813696)

Ferris Oxide Valley?

Either this is a very witty commentary on the original size of the device or the idiot editor doesn't know how to spell "ferrous". Smart money's on the latter.

For the Engineers out there. (2, Interesting)

Deathlizard (115856) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813699)

How much would one of these refrigerator drives hold today if they used the cutting edge write strategies we use today?

Storage space? Try bandwidth. (3, Interesting)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813707)

All this new storage space will doubtless be quite useful, but I wonder if we're about to get to the point where the network becomes the primary limiting factor in the usefuless of a computer (for most users), rather than the size of the hard drive? Just as memory is now usually the bottleneck, rather than the CPU, I can see that very soon the extra space will exceed that which can be downloaded in a reasonable amount of time (say, a year) - especially in sprawling, predominantly rural countries like the US.

I've played around with the notion of there being "content neutral" downloading services, where people bring in their external hard drives, plug in, and download at very high speeds for a premium, returning in an hour or so (akin to having film developed). This may actually make sense at some point, provided the legal hurdles can be jumped.

Dead Jews. (0, Flamebait)

agent (7471) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813708)

All at the price of a few million dead Jews.

HDD personal history (1)

unfortunateson (527551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15813713)

The company I worked for while I was in college in the early '80's had my first encounters with hard drives: removable 52MB multi-platter packs in a washing-machine-sized enclosure.

In '84 at my next job, the Lisa HDD was 5MB for either $1500 or $2500, I don't remember exactly. I remember the first hard drives for the Mac whose controllers clipped onto the CPU, and I think ran around $1000 for $20.

I finally cracked down and bought a 20MB drive for a Mac Plus for $600 -- that was a bargain.

When I realize that you can get 4GB microSD cards, and 3" drives in the hundreds of GB for just a few hundred bucks, it's pretty darn amazing.

Hard disk crash.... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15813780)

For all of those not lucky enough to walk into the William Gates Computer Science building at Stanford here's my photo of their 1967 hard disk: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/~ajh/harddisk.jpg [stanford.edu] . The dark line around the edge is the result of the head crashing into the disk. The disk cost $300,000 and held an impressive 48Mbytes over the 10 inner surfaces of 6 of these platters. Each platter's diameter is over 1m. Disk startup time was 5 minutes, access time was 35msec and transfer speed was 2.7Mb/s!

Stanford actually sued for $580,000 because of this crash and it not working within specifications. One bugbear was that it "cannot be used for longterm storage"!

M7arE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15813902)

jnew faces and 8any

A picture of the original Production Drive (5, Interesting)

loose electron (699583) | about 8 years ago | (#15813948)

Heres a picture of the original production version:

http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage /storage_PH0350A.html [ibm.com]

I met Reynold Johnson about 15 years back, (he died a while back) he ran the first design program developing this thing.

Some did not believe in it's viability back then. Somebody posted a picture of a bologna slicer on the side of the engineering prototype. The only thing in common between the original and the current methods are spinning disks. Everything else has changed in its approach.

They have been predicting the demise of the disk drive for 20 years. However the cost per byte (or mega,giga,tera,peta-byte) of magnetic storage stays ahead of the cost curve, and thus perserveres.

CSIRAC beat them to it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15813978)

Umm, guys, csirac beat them to it by about 7 years. See:

http://www.csse.unimelb.edu.au/dept/about/csirac/s tats.html [unimelb.edu.au] (note the "disk capacity" spec - 2048 words in 1949).
http://www.csse.unimelb.edu.au/dept/about/csirac/g raphic/disc.jpg [unimelb.edu.au]

Or is this article just about commercial hdds?

At that capcity in 1956 (1)

elgee (308600) | about 8 years ago | (#15814043)

My pr0N collection would require a disk farm the size of Rhode Island. Now that is progress.

RAMAC was a dead end (3, Interesting)

dmonahan (957638) | about 8 years ago | (#15814064)

The RAMAC was a self-contained computer. It went nowhere. The drives that actually caused a change in computing were the 5MB "pizza platter" drives on the 360, 10 years after the RAMAC. My college roommate used to go home one weekend a month to spend Sunday with his father (DP manager of a major company) backing up the RAMAC onto punch cards. He said it took all day and about 2 six-packs. Dick.

Hey baby. Is that... (1)

zanglang (917799) | about 8 years ago | (#15814088)

your hard disk, or are you just happy to see me? *rimshot*
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