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The Hard Drive Turns 50

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the but-it-still-feels-10 dept.

154

JHU writes "When the hard drive was first introduced on September 13, 1956, it required a humongous housing and 50 24-inch platters to store 1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives. Back then, the small team at IBM's San Jose-based lab was seeking a way to replace tape with a storage mechanism that allowed for more-efficient random access to data. The question was, how to bring random-access storage to business computing?"

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Speed testing? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101263)

Has anyone run HD Tach on that original IBM hard drive?

First post? More like GP (Gay Post) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101382)

I hope that you lose karma for this, chamelion.

3-peat? (1)

Enoxice (993945) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101266)

I seem to recall reading this story TWICE before this one!

I've found one of them: [url:http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=0 6/07/30/2124225], but I KNOW there was a second one.

Re:3-peat? (0)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101291)

that's why I am a believer that hard drives are female.

Helps prove the point that (3, Funny)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101343)

I seem to recall reading this story TWICE before this one!

50 Years on we have so much hard disk space available we just don't know what to do with it all.

Re:Helps prove the point that (2, Funny)

bangenge (514660) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101633)

I agree. There's only so much pr0n for everyone.

Re:3-peat? (1)

gettingbraver (987276) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101444)

Happy Birthday Hard Drive!

HARD DRIVE ARRAY SIMULATED ON SLASHDOT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101450)

We are practicing the ever present software harddrive array here on Slashdot...let's further increase the redundancy by striping this story across other sections.

Re:3-peat? (0)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101455)

"The Hard Drive Turns 50"

Related Stories:

"50th Anniversary of the First Hard Drive"

It's handy how now they link to the dupes for you.

Re:3-peat? (2, Interesting)

peterpi (585134) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102577)

One of the dupes is even listed on the 'Related Stories' section! Useful feature, that.

let the one-upsmanship begin! (3, Funny)

red_crayon (202742) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101268)

I used a hard drive when they were the size of a suitcase.

That's nothing. I used a hard drive when they were the size of a VW and held only 64 bytes. That's bytes not kb.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (5, Funny)

eliot1785 (987810) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101304)

I used hard drives back when they were only 10 bits and the size of two human hands. You had to signal to the computer which bits you wanted to be on and which you wanted to be off, by moving your fingers up and down. It was pretty tough.

(128 and 4 were also illegal values, a further limitation of this system)

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1, Redundant)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101333)

don't even think of 132, that'd get you fired on the spot!

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101350)

992 0 992 0 992 0

4 132 128 0

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101560)

6

18

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101656)

9 9 9 9 9 9 9

Duh duh da na na!
dana nana na dun da na na!

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Skippy_kangaroo (850507) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101727)

Are you left handed? Or is it me that is left handed? I'm confused about the byve (by-(fi)ve) order here and where the MSB is.

18 9 18 9

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101741)

10-bit little endian (LSB is the right pinky)

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101952)

That won't work - it implies palms out and 128 would just be giving yourself the finger.

LSB should be the right thumb. No?

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (2, Funny)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102173)

I'm pretty sure youo could easily go up to 20 bits, but the cops might arrest you if you try 21.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102720)

Considering you have enough hard drive space to store multiplication problems up to 31x31 by dividing it into two five-bit registries, I think the CPU was just as much the problem. Seems it uses some internal organization wierder than the PDP-11.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101323)

Phooie, back in my day, I had a hard drive the size of an Arby's that would hold only zero. That's right, half a bit. We had another one that only held one, so we could store a whole bit that way. Of course, that was enough for our software back then and we liked it that way. Kids these days are all spoiled with their hi-fallutin windows, and GUIs and multi-bit ASCII.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101511)

ObPedant: a zero is still a bit, not half a bit. It's just a bit that can only ever be off. ;)

Quite seriously, though... I remember working out that with some of these drives - presuming you could 'see' magnetic charge - /would/ have visible bits. Very cool, in a dorky way - I can imagine looking at something with 'xray specs' and being able to see a pattern.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

flibbajobber (949499) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101620)

"bit" is short for BINARY digit. So a "bit" that can only be off would presumably be a unary digit - or a "uit".

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101747)

Phooie, back in my day, I had a hard drive the size of an Arby's that would hold only zero

Zero? You had zeros? We had to use the letter "oh"...

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101348)

I used a hard drive when they were the size of a suitcase.

I used a hard drive when they were the size of a VW and held only 64 bytes.

Pffffft... you kids now put your laptops with 60-gig disks in your backpacks and take them to school. When I was young, I used to drag my VW-sized hard drive, my refrigerator-sized cpu and my CRT to school in foot deep snow! And it was uphill, both ways...

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101437)

And we were damn grateful too.

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101406)

Yeah, well my hard drive was a cave. Yes, a cave. I needed fire to "read" the data, and an array of different coloured rocks to write data. I had a magnificent collection of animal bitmaps (back then they were called "drawings") kept in a different partition to my wonderful collection of cave pr0n. Portability was a problem though...

Re:let the one-upsmanship begin! (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101845)

That's nothing. I used a hard drive when they were the size of a VW and held only 64 bytes. That's bytes not kb.

Back in my day, all our data was stored on an 8x8 grid of bits you had to read and toggle by hand. That's 64-bits of storage, and we liked it that way! [swipnet.se]

Kids these days, with your teletypes, and multi-kilobyte video games.

Hard Drive Turns 50! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101273)

I've got a few in my flying car.

I predict (5, Interesting)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101292)

At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ). To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter. To the host system, it would appear as a single drive of 160gb ( for example ), but it would actually be two platters of 160gb, with a bit for bit copy being maintained on the fly by the drive itself.

Access would be through a standard API.

Extending this further, we could add even more intelligence to the drives, and with the sacrifice of more storage space, would could have the drive taking care of shadow copies ( this operating under the assumption that the host system knows how to handle the drive ).

This is the direction I predict for future harddrives; At some point we will come to a place where we don't really need the extra capacity. At that point the harddrive manufactures will begin to add more intelligence to the drives.

Re:I predict (2, Informative)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101321)

We're already on the way with SMART, with many (most?) drives having reserved sectors that get mapped over bad sectors when they crop up. This won't be able to recover lost data, but a drive that verifies writes could re-write a sector that didn't make it to disc on first attempt.

Re:I predict (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102463)

with many (most?) drives having reserved sectors

I'm 99.99% sure that ALL modern PATA, SATA and SCSI drives have reserved blocks.

Re:I predict (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101352)

[automatic internal redundancy]

The problem I see with this is that (in my experience) there are several single points of failure in a hard drive, and if one of them goes the entire drive is toast. Specifically, the heads, the motor, and the controller board. I've had all three die on different occasions, and for all three the entire drive is dead. If the motor or controller board fails, then your data is fine, but you'll need to spend up to $1,000 (or more) to get the data off the drive. If the heads fail (mechanically or physically) there is a good chance that all the platters can be damaged so you're totally screwed.

In any case, aside from tons of bad sectors forming on the drive (in which case the entire drive is probably on it's way out) I don't see how an internal mirror can help much. You can't recover the data without going through an expensive data recovery service, so you may as well just buy a second physical drive, something that anyone can swap out and replace.

Re:I predict (1)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101394)

I must agree with this, when I first read the grand-parent I was thinking, whats the point of a raid if it's all on the same drive? I mean technically I could do that right now with linux, just make 2 partitions of equal size and software raid across them. Pretty pointless....now maybe if it had 2 separate little mini-drives inside of one that might technically count....not entirely unfeasible if platter density increased enough, but still this seems a little silly to me...

Re:I predict (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101469)

Actually, not so with the controller board. If you buy a drive of the exact same model (hopefully of the same batch - best yet, buy an extra initially and have a spare), you can remove the controller board from a working drive and replace it onto the drive with the bad board. There's almost never actual solder points connecting the board to the drive itself, but rather an array of pins and sockets that should separate with relative ease. Assuming that the board frying didn't damage anything internally (generally unlikely, as the controller chip would get fried first and the drive would probably just park the heads and twiddle its digital thumbs), you should be able to use the old drive with the new board as if nothing happened. Though, obviously, you'd be best off recovering your data then RMAing the drive with the original controller board put back on.

The only trick is that you need a set of Torx screwdrivers, which aren't too common in most households. And if the board came from a different batch, there's that very slight chance that they tweaked something that made the two use slightly different voltages or something, and swapping the boards would properly kill the drive and probably the working board as well. Worth a shot if you're desperate, though.

Theory (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102122)

I had a client suggest this on a $4000 drive a few years back. Their data was more improtant than $8000 (cost of two (2) drives to experiment with)

Drives keep track of bad sectors and remapped bad sectors. This might not be kept on the hard drive - IE - it could be kept on the controller board in ECC memory. I was never able to find out.

Next - the positioning might be via servo information on the platters themselves and if so then the swapped controller should be fine. But if the manufacturer used some sort of dead reconing system such as timming the track to track seaks then head positioning _might_ be a problem.

I don't know but I can see that there might be problems.

Re:Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16102277)

Information about remapped sectors is stored on the drive. Otherwise it would be lost at power down. In modern drives, positioning information is interspersed throughout the platters. Generally speaking, the controller makes no assumption that the platters it used the last time it powered up are the same ones it is using now. You should be able to swap boards with no problems. No guarantees of course, and it will void any warranty.

It worked for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16102425)

several years ago with a Seagate 450MB hard disk.

It was fryed during a storm by a power peak. Batches didn't change so fast that days so at a friend's shop we were able to find a suitable controller. We did the change and the drive is yet working today.

Old school technology rules.
Recycle [blogspot.com] with Nas [blogspot.com]

Re:I predict (2, Interesting)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101376)

Interesting point.

Ok fellow geeks. What are everyones' predictions about what computer storage will be like in 50 years? Include capacity, medium, and whatever else you want.

My guess is with organic/biological storage with essentially unlimited capacity - if you need more just grow more.

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101841)

Pretty much unlimited, on remote servers accessed wirelessly. And there won't be hard drives that spin, only solid state like persistant ram. At home you'll have a petabyte or six, but that will be considered small potatoes but you won't want more because the data itself will become so redundant so quickly it will be mostly useless to you. Store movies? Why? You'll store programs that create your own movies on the fly given your scenarios/outlines of fantasy. Music, the same. Some will still like "old time' static movies, but most won't because it won't be in the format people want and there won't be a good way to upcode it without it looking stupid.

And only this if humans can keep from world war 3 or 4 depending on how you are counting now, and this I rather doubt, humans being pretty stupid about getting into wars all the time for silly reasons, so...whatever you squirrel away now in your vault 0 doom might be what you have to use.

The transgenic genie is out of the bottle now (and completely and utterly uncontrolled by anyone),so it is only a matter of time before the big unstoppable plagues begin. Building a nuke is sorta hard, a plague on the other hand apparently won't be.

Re:I predict (1)

plgs (447731) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101388)

At some point we will come to a place where we don't really need the extra capacity

You must be new here...

Seriously though, it's a great idea which economics will kill stone dead, because consumers will not pay twice as much for the same capacity with marginally increased reliability. (I doubt whether most consumers even consider comparative MTBFs when buying drives, and manufacturers only care that the drive will survive the system's warranty period).

Re:I predict (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101389)

To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter.
Why would that be at all useful?

On my mental list of potential failure points, damage to the platter doesn't rank very high.

Other than the occassional bad sector, if you're going to get data corruption (or physical damage), your data is going to get FUBARed on both platters.

I agree with your conclusion about more intelligence, just not the notion that a one-drive RAID-1 would make any sense.

Personally, I'm waiting for them to cram 2 opposing sets of read/write arms (or even just a second set for reading) so that they can effectively halve the latency and seek times without having to go faster than the existing 15k screamers.

Kinda makes me wonder why ideas like the Kenwood TrueX 72x [techreport.com] (or 52x) never had enough money thrown at them to work the bugs out.

Re:I predict (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101516)

I'm waiting for them to ditch the entire arm/platter concept. Data storage should be completely solid state. I've seen computers cold boot faster than some drives take to spin up.

Re:I predict (2, Interesting)

Agripa (139780) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101541)

Personally, I'm waiting for them to cram 2 opposing sets of read/write arms (or even just a second set for reading) so that they can effectively halve the latency and seek times without having to go faster than the existing 15k screamers.

For a short time Seagate made a series of drives with dual head assemblies for transactional processing but they were not cost effective. I do not remember how the interfacing worked.

Re:I predict (1)

Barsoom (1002409) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102131)

Seagate also made a couple of drives with 2 heads per platter surface and only 1 actuater. The head assembly was known as a C-Blk instead of an E-blk. The model number was ST-425(20 MB). Seagate also produced a half height version called the ST-212(10 MB) with 1 platter and 4 heads and the ST-206(5 MB)which only used 1 surface and 2 heads.

IBM did that years ago (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102093)

IBM had dual heads on some of their drives. This was done years ago.

I expect we'll see an array of r/w heads instead. If we read and write 8 bits at a time then the drive looks like it spins about 8x faster. The thing is the rotational delay is the same but you read or write 8x the data per rotation.

Re:I predict (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101401)

At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ). To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter. To the host system, it would appear as a single drive of 160gb ( for example ), but it would actually be two platters of 160gb, with a bit for bit copy being maintained on the fly by the drive itself.

That's not going to help you if the motors and/or onboard circuitry dies. Which is, IME, *vastly* more common failure modes than the platter surface(s) suddenly degrading.

I think you'll see traditonal RAID1 configurations being pushed more by OEMs, long before you see any sort of "all in one" solutions coming from the hard disk manufacturers (and I even think that's unlikely). Especially when there's so much money for them to be made by taking a regular hard disk, putting it into a cool-looking USB cage and doubling the price tag.

Re:I predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101411)

Even if there was good enough isolation between the two "disks" to reduce the risk of simultaneous failure to that of a standard mirrored set, you'd still have a problem: what do you do after one "disk" fails?

In a mirrored environment, you pop out the bad disk, pop in a good one, and let the array re-build itself. With the example you've given, you back everything up in a hurry, replace the entire disk-pack, and then restore everything from your backup. Not really a whole lot better than just making regular system backups, which you can do now without fancy hi-tech doohickery.

Not that it's a bad idea. It's just not that dramatic an improvement over what we have now.

Re:I predict (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101505)

I know it's not happening this year or next year, but I would expect that the real solution is going to be moving away from hard discs for storing important data.

It may be a decade before most people switch to some form of non volatile memory for new purchases, but I would expect it to be reliable enough, and hopefully by then issues of Windows writing too often to drive will be fixed, as well as hopefully eliminating the need for a swap file.

This is all hypothetical. It's hard to know for sure when hard drive tech will run out of steam, right now, flash is uneconomical for mass storage, but I think it will become a major player in the notebook market in a few years, and a few years later in the desktop market, if that still exists. For all I know, save for gamers and certain power users, desktops as we know them may go away in ten years as the computer market is swinging towards notebooks pretty heavily.

Anyone serious enough about mirroring would do it on a separate drive. As others said, there are so many failure points in a drive that internal mirroring isn't going to work, especially if the spindle motor or bearings bust, or if the head controller or head arm motor goes bust. May as well have a second module. The price-conscious consumer market probably won't tolerate standardizing on a mirroring system even if it only adds $50 to the cost.

Re:I predict (2, Informative)

thegnu (557446) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101608)

It may be a decade before most people switch to some form of non volatile memory for new purchases, but I would expect it to be reliable enough

Yes, but still not impervious to Rhinoceros attacks, which are very very common where I'm from (Florida). And what about when the glaciers slide off Greenland all at once and cause the 300ft tsunami all around the world, then where will your data be? Underwater, that's where.

The greenland thing is actually possibly going to happen, as the water pools on top of the glaciers, the refraction causes faster melting, and the water has been leaking down between the glaciers and creating a slick that could cause the glaciers to--if they suddenly broke off--slide into the ocean within a few minutes. FYI, peeps. I know this is OT, but I'm moving inland.

Re:I predict (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101696)

At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ).

Hey! The harddrive makers are already doing this. Those ECC blocks are inserted along the data block, without them your harddisk would lose data much faster.

Recovery by ECC is auto, is not reported to SMART, and is consider normal. Afterall, we can't expect every magnet information to be kept forever perfectly in shape for such a density, the makers understand this and is already trading quite a portion of space for ECC.

Re:I predict (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101731)

Capacity is the main selling point of hard drives. When capacity stops meaning as much, people will move to things like flash for the lower power consumption.

My prediction would be that in 10-15 years, consumer machines don't have hard drives at all as solid-state memory achieves terabyte sizes and the number of rewrites ceases to be an issue.

Re:I predict (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101905)

raid-1 on two platters make no sense.

My guess would be that failure of physical platters or read-heads account for perhaps 10% of all hard-disc crashes.

Having two platters with the same data will do nothing for you when the drive-electronics die. When the motor driving the spindle has a problem, when the stepper is no longer able to align the read-heads properly.

Stupid moderators (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102075)

Please note the stupid post got modded +5

Re:I predict (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102709)

No, they won't put two hard drives in a single enclosure (or one enclosure with two independent rotation motors, actuator motors and so on). This would increase the price. As for writing data on two places on the platters, I think between buying a 5TB hard drive for $500, or buying just half of it for $500, my option is clear

A funny memory about hard drive memory (5, Interesting)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101298)

While a student at the University of Toronto in the late 1970's, my fraternity (mostly engineers) invited a professor for a dinner. We retired to the library afterwards with a case of beer, and I ventured the comment "Won't it be great when you can get a desktop computer with 1 Mb of RAM, and a 10 Mb hard drive?".

The prof thought this was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. He listed the following "fundamental physics" reasons why these devices would be impossible:

1. You could never make the magnetic domains small enough to get that density

2. Even if you could, you could never make stepper motors precise enough to read the data.

3. Even if you could, you could never make read/write heads sensitive enough to read such small domains.

4. Even if you could, you could never make a disk which rotated stably enough to prevent head crashes.

5. As for the RAM, he said we could never make chip densities high enough to get 1 MB on a desktop.

6. Even if you could, the heat generated by those RAM chips would require a small refrigerator.

7. And finally, even if you could make the transistors small enough, you would get so many tunneling errors that the RAM would be completely unreliable.

I wonder if he's seen an Ipod Nano yet...

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101477)

nanos are flash-based.

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101583)

so is your "love life".

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (1)

kevmo (243736) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101668)

FYI, Flash memory IS Random Access Memory, and the nanos have way more than 1MB of it.

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (3, Interesting)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101603)

A friend's grandfather actually worked at the San Jose IBM lab back in the days when they were working on early drives -- I think he just turned 88 this month.

At any rate, he talked my ear off for an hour once, talking about how they'd spent a bunch of time trying to figure out the optimal height above the platter to float the head at. He said they used a jet of compressed air under the head to float it, not unlike an air hockey puck.

Long story short, if they really were working on these things in this scale back in those days, I can't say I can blame your professor -- you might as well have been talking about flying cars and having an entire meal in a single pill. I mean, hell, drives these days hold millions of times more data than they did just a couple of decades ago. I don't think anything's ever miniaturized that fast.

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101638)

He should be punished by forever using an Apple 1.

Lots of room on the bottom (2, Informative)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102065)

While your professor friend was being a fool Richard Feynman was writing "THere is plenty of room on the bottom". See if you can find his paper. He predicited densities much higher.

Re:A funny memory about hard drive memory (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102700)

Alright, so he wasn't a visionary but I think you can point to most computer scientists in the 1940s-1970s and laugh
"You didn't have a clue how far computers would go".

Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 1980s and laugh "You didn't have a clue how far Internet would go".

Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 1990s and laugh "You didn't have a clue how far wireless connections would go".

Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 2000s and lau... oh wait, that's us. I'm not exactly sure what they'll be laughing about, put I'm pretty sure they will. It's really easy to mock technological predictions with 20-20 hindsight. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a trip in my flying car driven by cold fusion...

Storage used to be really dangerous. (4, Funny)

sporkme (983186) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101310)

My father talks about his younger days with the US Air Force as a mid-level computer technology worker in Anchorage. He speaks of how dangerous magnetic storage was in the early days, with all that weight in a drum, spinning up to 1200 RPM. We still jokes about the emergency procedures in the event of a catastrophic mechanical failure of operating storage media. The USAF's official line was to take cover in a corner behind other heavy equipment at the first sign of trouble. Techs used to work under constant threat of going three rounds with bouncing betty. Now all we have to worry about are laptop batteries.

See Drum Memory [wikipedia.org]

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101338)

The wikipedia article says magnetic drum storage was invented in 1932! They didn't really have computers back then. What the &@*$! did they store on it? Porn?

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (1)

sporkme (983186) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101397)

Dad says, "The first automobile was patented in 1886. They weren't exactly running out for milk in it." The drum was used in proprietary systems and the massive disk arrays that the article addresses as being "first" were also implemented and threatening in similar ways.

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101540)

But what did they store on the drum? What was it used for in 1932?

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101599)

A replacement for punch cards?

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (1)

nikoliky (768458) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101743)

If I recall, it was designed to store figures from the census. Weird, I know.

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101945)

What the &@*$! did they store on it? Porn?

I think back in those days porn was stored on wetware, or paper :)

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (5, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101365)

A teacher of mine back in the 70's told us about a hard drive - the size of a large washing machine, early 60's - whose bearings froze up. All of that rotational energy was transfered to the case, which ripped loose and chased him around the room, bouncing off the walls.

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101398)

Information wants to be FREE!

Re:Storage used to be really dangerous. (2, Insightful)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101703)

+1 Funniest comment EVER

Code name was Ethel (3, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101313)

It's kind of a strange coincidence that the codename for the hard drive project was Ethel because the same day that these huge hunks of iron were debuted was the day that Hurrican Ethel formed in the Gulf of Mexico (it made landfall the next day in Mississippi).

These days we're talking about capacities that can hold all the information of every hurricane evar on a single disk. What a ways we've come.

Re:Code name was Ethel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101423)

You're my hero. Someone mod this guy up.

Re:Code name was Ethel (1)

prichardson (603676) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101936)

"These days we're talking about capacities that can hold ALL the information of every hurricane evar on a single disk. What a ways we've come."
(emphasis mine)

I'll be pedantic.

You're not thinking big enough. ALL of the information would be the location of every molecule of air, etc at every point in time during the hurricane. For that, we would need a hard drive as massive as the hurricane for each point in time. I think we would quickly run out of mass in the universe if we stored ALL of the information. :-)

the 'hard drive' is really just beginning (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101320)

the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue/recovery initiative/mandate is really just kicking in.

from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the felonious nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

lookout bullow.

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

Re:the 'hard drive' is really just beginning (1)

nostriluu (138310) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101400)

I invoke godwin's law.

obligatory bash quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101419)

"The question was, how to bring random-access storage to business computing?"

"just keep 30 chinese teenagers in my basement and force them to memorize numbers"

Then, you can randomly retrieve data by just yelling out your search terms!

Big bits (3, Interesting)

NMBob (772954) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101421)

When I was in high school (1970's) our computer programming/math teacher had a hard drive disk platter that might have been from one of the these machines. I seem to recall that it was larger than 24" in diameter, but maybe I was just smaller. Anyway, the disk had some silver powder on it -- magnetic I'd guess -- and you could actually see the individual bits. They were pretty thin, but the tracks looked to be about 1/8" wide/tall.

Re:Big bits (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101461)

Silver powder == dust. Possibly magnetic, though.

Not so hard at 50 (3, Funny)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101463)

At 50 years old I bet it's more floppy drive than hard drive.

Re:Not so hard at 50 (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101547)

Nah, they've been storing all that viagra spam on it so it's still hard (though it should consult a doctor if it is for more than 4 hours)

WTF kind of units are these (2, Insightful)

sokoban (142301) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101497)

"1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives"

Really now, that is almost completely uninformative since most people have no idea what the capacity is of today's largest 1 inch hard drive. I know that it is cool and all how much storage has shrunk, but I think just saying 8 megs (or whatever the storage capacity was) tells people more than saying a fraction of an obscure unit.

Re:WTF kind of units are these (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101700)

"1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives"

Really now, that is almost completely uninformative since most people have no idea what the capacity is of today's largest 1 inch hard drive. I know that it is cool and all how much storage has shrunk, but I think just saying 8 megs (or whatever the storage capacity was) tells people more than saying a fraction of an obscure unit.
Yeah might as well go for the "sidewalks to the moon" or "statue of liberty on is side" comparisons. "1 inch drive * 2400" is less informative than even the usual "libraries of congress".

Re:WTF kind of units are these (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102331)

And then of course there is the "it can hold 1 minute of MP3 music at 128kbps". 60*128/8 = 960kB. But just before it says it was 5MB.

And it comes full circle... (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101510)

how to bring random-access storage to business computing?

Now, the question is how to best make use of the *non*-random-access storage that business computing has available? Most people think of hard disks as random access, but really they're not -- there's a huge performance penalty for random reads and writes. A disk that can do many tens of MB/s of sequential reads can only do maybe 200 4kB sector reads per second. That's a *huge* difference. So much so, that it's almost free to just read a bunch of sectors before or after the requested sector, in hopes they will get used. Companies providing high performance storage products struggle a great deal with figuring out how to avoid large numbers of small random IOs, and how to actually make use of the available bandwidth when the user is requesting small blocks at a time.

Re:And it comes full circle... (1)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101732)

Same thing with cache operation as well as the latest double-data-rate RAM. Cache is transfered a block at a time, to reduce overall latency, and they do it because most of the time you read and/or write multiple data elements within a small contiguous memory area, then move on. Even with small caches that are used in embedded CPUs you end up with cache hit rates that exceed 90 percent for most common applications.

Yes, it has been a fun ride ... (1)

kbahey (102895) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101591)

I remember working with fixed hard drives (i.e. non-removable) that were 500 MB, and larger than washing machines.

I remember having colleagues who broke their feet after removable hard drives fell on them (those were only 200 MB, but HUGE ...

The same place I worked at had XT like PCs with external hard drives in shoe box sized housing.

Those were from the mid-80s by the way ...

Even more historical (3, Funny)

kyjl (965702) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101675)

September 14th, 1956: The first time porn is loaded onto a Hard Drive

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16101720)

My GrandPa had a whole stack of the 24" diameter HDs. We came across them as we were cleaning out his barn (there was a fire, or they would still be there) They where closed in giant plastic rectangles, looked kinda like large rackmount servers.

How fitting... (1)

FoXDie (853291) | more than 8 years ago | (#16101964)

How fitting... one of mine died today. We barely knew ye.

That's nothing... (2, Funny)

matushorvath (972424) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102147)

...my hard drive turns 7200!

Re:That's nothing... (1)

robo_mojo (997193) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102231)

...my hard drive turns 10,000!

(now we await the inevitable "my hard drive turns 15,000" post)

and so close. . . (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102244)

. . . to my birthday! I'll be 40 tomorrow. (Sep15)
If there was one piece of hardware I'd like for my birthday present, it'd be 2GB of RAM for my laptop. There's something I'm older than: DRAM ICs.

Sweet, I don't have to think to reply to this! (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102444)

I can just re-post my opinion from last time it was posted, C&P is so much easier than thinking.
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=192615&cid=158 13665 [slashdot.org]

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,...

only 50??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16102595)

Only 50 turns? Mine does 7200rpm, I think.

Not the only thing to turn 50 this year. (1)

Skywings (943119) | more than 8 years ago | (#16102741)

Being from the 'Land Downunder' it hard not to ignore another technological milestone that is also turning 50 this year. What technology am I talking about? Why its the humble television. Being the backwater country it was back in 1950's, it wasn't until 1956 that Australia finally got television. As of this year Australians as a whole have been through 50 years of television. It is sad to say many of those pioneering TV presenters have long pass on, but such if life. So as we celebrate the 50 year harddrive, also remember that 50 years ago Australia finally entered the age of Television.
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