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Storage costs... (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646651)

Wow, I remember my first hard drive for the TRS-80 Model II that I had. It was a 5MB primary hard disk system that required you to turn a key to power it on, then wait while it ran up sounding like a jet engine before you pressed the "active" button to enable reading and writing. The cool thing about it was that you could actually hack it and get it to work on my later Apple ][+ that I used throughout junior high, high school and half of college before replacing it with a Mac IIci. Oh yeah, it weighed about 20 lbs and was in a case bigger than the Apple ][+ case alone. Finally, the interesting thing is that Kryder's law has been maintained over time like Moore's law and it is stunning how much storage space money buys these days. I seem to recall that original 5MB Tandy hard drive costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $4000, and for that money I can now buy ~16TB of storage like this setup [utah.edu] in my office.

Re:Storage costs... (1, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646701)

Working on retinal reconstruction, eh? It looks like that first pic is of the device that's used to burn your retinas out...

Re:Storage costs... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646745)

Yeah, its my light damage cage... ouch. Although, I wonder what my colleagues would say if they found me sitting in the dark with the computer displays going and me wearing a big honkin pair of Ray-Bans?

Re:Storage costs... (3, Funny)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647025)

"There is no spoon," comes to mind.

Re:Storage costs... (1)

fubar1971 (641721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647747)

Forget the RayBans. I was thinking more along the line of Speedo's and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil

Re:Storage costs... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647877)

Yeah, now *that* would be seriously hard to explain to my colleagues. :-)

Re:Storage costs... (1)

Capslock118 (936446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646727)

What came to my mind by looking at the photo was this: How much hard disk space today can fit in the dimensions of that huge box?

Re:Storage costs... (1)

ichthus (72442) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647863)

What came to my mind by looking at the photo was this: Whoa! They had airplanes in 1956?

Seriously, though, I was impressed reading the specs at the end of the snopes article:

Disks rotated at 1,200 rpm, tracks (20 to the inch) were recorded at up to 100 bits per inch, and typical head-to-disk spacing was 800 microinches. The execution of a "seek" instruction positioned a read-write head to the track that contained the desired sector and selected the sector for a later read or write operation. Seek time averaged about 600 milliseconds.

I don't know why, but 1200 RPM rotation and 600 ms seeks seems impressive, even if it IS as big as the WOPR.

Re:Storage costs... (3, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647223)

While we're reminiscing about the good old days of refrigerator sized hard drives that would only hold a single three minute MP3 and pocket calculators that needed a whole building to house and took an army of engineers to run, you kids might want to know what it's like to grow up with computers (written 2005) [kuro5hin.org] ; or rather, have computers grow up with you.

Now be nice and don't make any "soviet Russia" jokes about this comment, ok?

-mcgrew [slashdot.org]

Re:Storage costs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647285)

To hell with the storage space, I want that Merlin!

Re:Storage costs... (1)

makellan (550215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647323)

1 Ton of storage (4GB micro SD cards)
10,667 cards
42,668 GB
Cost: $399,479

Easier to get 1 TB drives
1,242 drives
1,242 TB
Cost: $358,938

Of course, this doesn't include cables, power supply and such.

Re:Storage costs... (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647603)

10667 cards / 2000 pounds = 5.33 micro SD cards to the pound?

Mine are significantly lighter--I don't know what brand you're using.

Re:Storage costs... (4, Funny)

exploder (196936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647697)

A more accurate number is about 900 micro SD cards to the pound, so 1,800,000 to the ton. Multiply that by 4 gigs, and you have about a shitload (or "un chingo" in the metric system).

Re:Storage costs... (5, Funny)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647969)

Actually, the metric equivalent to a 'shitload' is the metric 'assload.' As in, 'That's an assload of storage!'

It's much easier to talk in terms of milliassloads, centiassloads, assloads, kiloassloads and mega-assloads than in shitloads; who can ever remember that one shitload=4 'whole piles of' = 7.46 'whole lotta's = 14.5 (14 even in certain states) 'whole buncha's = 31 'fair chunk of' which, finally, contains 252 'bitta's.

After all, isn't it easier to say 'there's 40 centiassloads of storage on that mem card' than 'there's a whole lotta and a bitta space on that mem card'?

Re:Storage costs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647627)

Um, no. There are no 3 oz. microSD card. If they were solid lead they wouldn't weigh 3 oz. According to your ratios above 8.6 microSD cards weigh as much as a 1TB hard drive.

Methinks you should recapture both zeros that have fled and gone missing...

Re:Storage costs... (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647541)

Remember the Xetec Lt. Kernal? It was a similar hdd designed for the C64/C128 and about as expensive. If you search the net you can easily find pictures of it.

It too was rather loud and only had 5-10 megs of storage, but that was like 200 floppies.

frosty pist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646657)

first post

4,400 Kilo-Bytes? (4, Funny)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646679)

Who's ever going to need all that space? :-)

Insightful! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646699)

Compare that to the 1-4GB sticks that most of us have on our keychains today.

Wow, yes. Storage density has increased over time. Amazing. I never noticed that before.

Re:Insightful! (1)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646765)

Actually, probably for the size of that thing, you could fit 1000 TB drives in the same volume, so you could fit a petabyte (and soon 5PB) in the same amount of space. So storage space per cubic whatever has increased by a billion times in 50 years.

Re:Insightful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647419)

Actually, if you do the math and assuming they divide relatively equally, you can fit 5144 1TB drives in that space.
(60x68x29)/(5.75x4x1) ~= 5144.

If we use the common/computer usage that's 4.678 PetaBytes

Re:Insightful! (3, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646789)

I don't think he was commenting on the storage density, just the fact that it was a lot harder to lug around a 350 on your keychain.

Re:Insightful! (3, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646805)

Yeah... at least they should have pointed to the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] which gives plenty of more insight than an urban legends debunking web page. It is not news, but if they want to add this sort of trivia well, better do it the right way.

Bytes have blown out too! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647399)

I used Microsoft's first C compiler ( a rebranded Lattice). It came on 2 single-sided single density floppies. Add Wordstar or similar and you could actually do edit/compile/link etc on a single floppy machine (though two floppies were infinitely better because you would not have to pause to load the linker disk). With that toolset you could do all the software development you'd ever need to do on that machine.

Sure, we might now have hundreds of GB hard disks, but the size of everything has blown out too.

One of the biggest problems is doing backups. In the 80s you could back up all your work on a single floppy (or maybe a few). Now it's a lot more complicated.

Where are my $20 Hard Drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646713)

With all this improvement, why haven't we gotten to the point where I can buy a 20 GB hard for $20?

At the rate at which bit torrent burns through my hard drives, I am reluctant to spend any real amount of money on them. $20 sounds about right for something that lasts about 3 months before it dies and takes all my data with it.

Re:Where are my $20 Hard Drives (4, Insightful)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647145)

With all this improvement, why haven't we gotten to the point where I can buy a 20 GB hard for $20?


Two basic reasons. First of all, the basic overhead costs like packaging and shipping are basically fixed, regardless of the capacity of the hard drive. While they have little effect on the cost of a $200 item, they'd eat you alive trying to sell hard drives for $20.

The second reason is closely related: the cost of building a hard drive depends relatively little on its capacity. You can predict the cost of the drive fairly accurately based only on its form factor. Yes, as the capacity goes up things like the heads and the coatings on the platters change, but they don't change the cost all that much. Obviously when you put more platters in a drive, the cost goes up, but within the typical 1/3 ht. form factor, you don't have room for enough platters to cause anything like an order of magnitude difference in cost.

Re:Where are my $20 Hard Drives (2, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647379)

With all this improvement, why haven't we gotten to the point where I can buy a 20 GB hard for $20?

Give it another few years. You can get a 10gb hard drive housed in a computer fof fity, including monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Used, of course, but you know what they say about begging and choosing.

-mcgrew [slashdot.org]

Re:Where are my $20 Hard Drives (2, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647649)

You can't get a 20GB HD for $20 but you can get a 1GB HD-like system for $20.

Hard disks consist of a fixed cost bit (the general hardware) and a "gets better with every new generation without costing more" part (the density of the data on the platters.) As a result, it'll always cost something in the region of $100 for the low end devices.

Flash memory on the other hand seems to be more linear with the material costs of the devices being miniscule and pretty much the entire expense being related to the density of the storage. So if you wait long enough, a $20 20G drive will turn up. It'll just take longer because flash costs more per-byte than magnetic disks.

Right here. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647895)

Okay, well, they're $30 [pricewatch.com] ... but what's $10 between friends?

Comparison (5, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646717)

pen drive: will fit in my pocket
RAMAC: will maybe fit in my kitchen

pen drive: holds quite a bit of data
RAMAC: can't hold that much data

pen drive: cannot be used as cover in a gun fight
RAMAC: essentially is a battlement worthy of any castle

AND THE WINNER IS....... RAMAC! I know I want a storage device that protect me from sundry projectiles.

Re:Comparison (3, Funny)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647369)

I'll be right there, ready to prove wrong the fool who believes the pen drive is mightier than the sword.

Re:Comparison (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647845)

It is quite obvious that you have not seen what happens when you lift the lid on a drive from those days after some sorry bastard has disabled the safety that disallows you to do that while the disk is still spinning. The effect is roughly the same as from a hand grenade. A portion of the outer casing looks like it was shot from the inside and chunks of the original drive plates are sticking from the wall or from the sorry bastard who happened to be on that side of the case. I have seen that happen on a couple of occasion (with later hard-drives for Vaxen and early VMs).

Snopes is a great site... but... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646731)

Will they ever cover the rumor of conscious editors at /.?

Is it the model IBM 350 is the harddrive and the 305 RAMAC is the computer.

Portable (4, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646733)

According to the photo in the article, it was also a portable drive.

Re:Portable (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646881)

Well of course it was portable. They were transporting it from the cargo hold of a plane with a forklift, weren't they? Just because you need a jet doesn't mean it's not portable!

Re:Portable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647615)

transporting it... with a forklift

Brings a whole new meaning to "forking" a project.

Yeah, but, but ... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646737)


... does it run Linux?

Re:Yeah, but, but ... (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647409)

probably. you'd need to strip down the kernal quite a bit though.

Re:Yeah, but, but ... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647435)

... does it run Linux?

Linux will run on anything from a wristwatch to a beowolf cluster of supercomputers. So yes, it will run Linux. It will not, however, run Windows.

-mcgrew [slashdot.org]

Re:Yeah, but, but ... (4, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647549)

... does it run Linux
Interestingly enough in this instance that's a good question.
My initial response to this was "of course it does, stop being a troll" like many others commenting with this over-played cliche.

I then thought about it harder and realized there aren't many distros that run in less than 5MB. There are distros that do it, but not many unless they're hardware router disks. This gave me the gut feeling that the answer may be yes, but then I remembered... this is well before x86 architecture became mainstream.
I then looked into the architecture of the 305 RAMAC and found a decent wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on the subject. Among the interesting things about the architecture is that characters were only 7 bits! FTLA:

Each character was 7 bits, composed of two zone bits ("X" and "O"), four BCD bits for the value of the digit, and an odd parity bit ("R") in the following format: X O 1 2 4 8 R
With that being said I HIGHLY doubt any form of BSD or Unix was developed for this machine and thus the ability to run Linux is also highly unlikely.

And? (4, Insightful)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646739)

Those 1-4GB usb drives will be a joke in the not too distant future too.

Re:And? (1)

symes (835608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647157)

I don't think the jokes will stop at memory... I can almost hear my children stumbling upon my old tablet (HP4400) in ten years time and wetting themselves laughing at that monstrous "just so unportable, dude" paving slab of a machine.

Re:And? (1)

Mantaar (1139339) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647171)

But they won't be such a big joke, got it?

Too Bad (2, Funny)

Azarael (896715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646743)

It's too bad that you can't fit the equivalent ratio of *beer* on your keychain..

Finally, (5, Funny)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646759)

I'm sick of storing all my porn on punchcards.

Re:Finally, (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647459)

I don't see the punch-holes anymore, I just see blonde, brunette, redhead...

Re:Finally, (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647689)

Maybe you would be better off making the punchcard's equivalent of ASCII pr0n.

Before its time... (1)

terrible76 (855014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646863)

Well it wasn't that popular, never made the water cooler news of the day. Never heard the phrase "Is that a IBM 350 or you just happy to see me!" Maybe a little before its time.

Simple Rule (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646879)

The rule is really very simple: standard hard drives (i.e. excluding things like micro-drives) really have a nearly constant price of roughly $250/pound. Most of what's changed over time has been the amount of data you can store per pound.

Re:Simple Rule (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647129)

Every hard drive I have weighs at least 1 pound. None of them cost over $150. I think your numbers are a little bit off. Also, you generally don't pay for storage by weight. You can buy an 80 GB drive and a 500 GB drive that weigh pretty much the same right now.

Re:Simple Rule (1)

jagilbertvt (447707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647477)

Ah, but the 500gb drive's bits are much more massive!

Allocation was different (1)

psued0ch (1200431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646911)

Most programs during that time period were only mathematical equations that in the most complex forms sometimes didn't reach 1 KB. To have storage the size of 4.4 MB was almost unheard of, and was the dream of universities and labs that required automation of formulas. It really does make one appreciate that $20 memory stick that we all take for granted to keep our files for work/college. One gigabyte on a keychain would amaze the computer engineers of the post-WW2 era. I never ceases to astound me how fast computing has evolved.

We do? (0)

NNKK (218503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646913)

I carry a laptop with me everywhere, I have all my data on its 250GB HDD. I have no need for a USB drive on my keychain. I do need to grab one soon for special purposes, but it's never going to be on my keychain, it's going to be in my backpack with other assorted tools I almost never have need of for rare use at customer sites in environments where network connectivity is limited.

Funny story ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21646923)

My brother, who is largely computer illiterate but finally got a machine the other year has had his hard drive die.

So, he was telling me that he figured he could get 2 GB of RAM and 500GB HD for $150. At first, I didn't believe him; then I checked prices, then I almost fell over.

Having personally paid $600+ for 16MB of RAM (and thinking it was a good deal) the fact that for less than $200 you can buy that much stuff shocks me.

Having had computers whose memory was measured in K, that didn't have hard drives, and whose CPU speeds were measured in single-digit Hz ... sometimes it just boggles my mind what people can buy now. Hell, your average pharmacist will have GB+ memory cards for digital cameras for about $25 nowadays.

Every now and then when I stop to realize how far we've come it just bakes my noodle! =)

Cheers

Re:Funny story ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647011)

Single digit Hz? Didn't you mean Khz? Mhz? I think that some people can get to the speed of a 1Hz when calculating
in their head.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647141)

Single digit Hz? Didn't you mean Khz? Mhz? I think that some people can get to the speed of a 1Hz when calculating
in their head.

Hmmm .... yes, probably single digit MHz is more accurate. Surely the clock cycled more than a few times/second.

It was all so very long ago, those neurons are getting a little rusty. :-P

Cheers

Re:Funny story ... (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647281)

It was all so very long ago, those neurons are getting a little rusty. :-P

Why back in my day, boy, we measured frequency in seconds per cycle and we liked it!

Re:Funny story ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647321)

It was all so very long ago, those neurons are getting a little rusty. :-P

Why back in my day, boy, we measured frequency in seconds per cycle and we liked it!

Mr Babbage? Is that you? :-P

Cheers

Re:Funny story ... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647335)

Mr Babbage? Is that you? :-P

Babbage is a upstart whipper-snapper who needs to stop building his machines on my lawn!

Re:Funny story ... (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647883)

Bah! In my day, we didn't even have computers! We had to write the program, then IMAGINE how it would run! And we liked it! We loved it! We were begging for more!
--The Lady Ada Lovelace

Re:Funny story ... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647181)

The slowest computer I remember having was a 386 running at 20 MHz. I seriously doubt you ever had a computer that ran in single digit Hz. Possibly single digit MHz, but surely not single digit Hz.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647261)

The slowest computer I remember having was a 386 running at 20 MHz. I seriously doubt you ever had a computer that ran in single digit Hz. Possibly single digit MHz, but surely not single digit Hz.

Yup, the clock speed of the original IBM PC was 4.77 MHz. I was referring to a Tandy Color Computer, which I had assumed was in KHz range, but more like 1MHz -- it was a very long time ago and the details get fuzzy. =)

I remember paying money to upgrade it to 16K of memory or somesuch and loading data from cassette tape. :-P

Cheers

Re:Funny story ... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647405)

Well, even the TRS-80 [wikipedia.org] ran at 1.77 MHz, which is equivalent to 1,770,000 Hz. Like I said, I highly doubt you ever owned a computer that ran in single digit Hz.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647367)

Yup - as commented, probably single digit MHz: the PC/AT [wikipedia.org] for example, was 6 to 8 MHz.

Of course, at the time that came out, I was using a 7.83 MHz processor on my desk [lowendmac.com] , and had access to something a bit bigger [wikipedia.org] for the fun stuff.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647507)

For me it was a Commodore 64 which ran at between 1Mhz and .9 Mhz. The IBM PC ran at 4.77 MHZ if I rembember correctly and and the first PC-ATs ran at 6 Mhz but your could over clock them to 8 with a little effort. Like replacing the crystal on the Motherboard.
Single digit hz computers. Maybe when stepping through a program for testing but not for production work in my life time.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647363)

So, he was telling me that he figured he could get 2 GB of RAM and 500GB HD for $150. At first, I didn't believe him; then I checked prices, then I almost fell over.
It's been ages since I built a PC for home use... Normally I just throw a list of requirements together and then hand it off to someone else to quote out the appropriate stuff... So I'm fairly out of touch with prices...

I was recently looking on NewEgg for some upgrades to my woefully out of date gaming PC and was absolutely shocked at the price of RAM. I can get 4 GB today for less than what it cost me for 1 GB last time I upgraded.

Re:Funny story ... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647365)

Every now and then when I stop to realize how far we've come it just bakes my noodle! =)

You know, it is a good point about how far computers have come, but why did you have to involve religion [wikipedia.org] in an otherwise interesting post?

Quibble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21646951)

The article (quoting an EETimes article) says, "5 million characters (not bytes, they were 7-bit, not 8-bit characters)." However historically a byte [wikipedia.org] could refer to anywhere from 5 to 12-bits; it's only relatively recently that it's assumed that 8-bits is one byte. That's why 8-bits is referred to as an octet in protocol specifications.

Imagine... (1)

cosmicaug (150534) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647005)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

Re:Imagine... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647819)

This is a hard drive.
Imagine a RAID array of those!

Compare that to the 1-4GB sticks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647009)

Well the first flash drives were about as large as a Pinto and the required USB ports the size of a garage door.

You youngsters fail to appreciate history.

Wow, an article backed with (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647035)

solid, hard, heavy tons of data...

Re:Wow, an article backed with (1)

ciaohound (118419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647457)

Ironclad, even.

USB keychains (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647045)

Compare that to the 1-4GB sticks that most of us have on our keychains today.
Perhaps that's true in this crowd I guess. (though I keep mine in my wallet, which is funny, instead of a round outline, you can see a little rectangle)

Re:USB keychains (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647475)

And I bet the memory stick gets taken out more often too.

funny thing is.. (2, Interesting)

fawzma (1099863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647105)

there is probably an IBM site out there that is still running one of these things.

Like all old IBM gear, it was fun to watch (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647121)

All that 1940s-50s-60s IBM gear was fun to watch. I think they designed it that way on purposes. The mechanical engineering in those things was as impressive as the electrical engineering. I only saw a RAMAC once, when I was in high school, on a gee-whiz tour of an IBM office... it was, I think, in White Plains, New York, but might have been in New York City.

It only had a single head, so it basically move in two dimensions. It would retract all the way out from the stack of disks then zip quickly to another disk and insert itself to read the other disk. During the visit I briefly saw it "vibrating" crazily back and forth on one of the disks. It was explained to me that it was copying a file.

They all had those great big lighted buttons; separate on and off buttons, no push-on-push-off nonsense. the "on" button was always slightly recessed, while the "off" button always projected slightly, so that any one accidentally bumping against the machine would be turning it off rather than on...

Sure, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647143)

You can't make a flash stick walk across the floor by seeking back and forth on the disk at the right frequency!

they're smaller now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647149)

why hasn't anyone told me?

average people in the 50's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647179)

How did the average person react to conversations about computers at the time? Were people generally knowledgable about the existence of this technology and its applications in 1956? I look at this photograph on Snopes and I wonder if passersby scratched their heads like baffled monkeys at these "com-pyoo-tars". I asked my parents how "aware" they were of computers throughout the decades and the best answer they give me is "I don't know, I was working". "Well when's the first time you recall a computer in your workplace?" "Oh I don't know, I never really noticed." What?

I know my computer history. I just don't know how much computers had a firm grip (or no grip at all) on the public zeitgeist in the pre-Internet (or at least pre-Reagan-80's) days.

Re:average people in the 50's... (1)

yo_tuco (795102) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647687)

"I just don't know how much computers had a firm grip (or no grip at all) on the public zeitgeist in the pre-Internet (or at least pre-Reagan-80's) days."

Rent this movie [imdb.com] for a popular culture view of computers in 1969.

Why go that far back? (1)

shankarunni (1002529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647201)

Back in 1985, when I joined HP, the state of the art was the HP 7925 (~300MB), a washing-machine sized drive. And boy, did they really make it "bullet-proof" - if you remember the machine-room scene in Terminator 2, those were all 7925's that were stopping the "bad" Terminator's 21st-century bullets..

When computers used vacuum tubes (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647209)

The RAMAC was tube controlled. In fact I have several old computer tubes, and the particular one I am thinking of is a dual triode, which means that it can form a 1-bit memory. It is about the size of 4 of my 8-Gbyte USB sticks, so its information density is about 250 billion times less. 250 billion is about 2 ^ 38. Moore's Law calls for a doubling of memory density every 18 months, so 38 * 1.5 = 57 years. And the tube was made sometime in the 50s.

Truly Moore's Law is an amazing thing.

According to Google, this wasn't the first HDD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647213)

Maybe the first commercial one, but not the first.

Proof [google.com]

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647263)

Wow!?!? Computer technology gets smaller?? Who knew? I am amazed! oh, no, wait thats boredom.

When I Was A Boy... (5, Funny)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647371)

...even the simplest computer took up six city blocks, and was over ten storeys tall if you included the intercooler arrays.

My sixteen brothers and sisters had to walk forty-six kilometers through the blistering snow to even reach the keyboard, and then even when you did each key required over nine pounds per inch of pressure to depress them. And, since this was before Dvorak composed his famous New World symphony, the keys were always arranged in a completely random order.

Next we would chop wood and heft it into the boiler to keep the computer going, pausing only to replace vaccuum tubes or to put in a few hours at a Dickensian sweat-shop in order to afford that previous penny to buy us a sasperilly to share between us.

We all had tuberculosis, of course, which was the style at the time.

But did we complain? No, we didn't. We performed floating point calculations by tying little knots in the tatters from our pants, and rendered sums for the differential equations the war effort needed to bomb out the Nazis. How much RAM did we have, you ask? We had 1 bit. Today my grandson complains when his WoW refresh rates are too low, but back then we made out just fine with 1 bit of RAM and a box of Cracker Jacks.

Monochrome? We could only dream. Our display was semichrome. And our printer? His name was Guttenberg.

Man, those were the days.


Pussy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647545)

Back in my day, we didn't even have days. We only had hours, minutes, and, on rare occasions, seconds.

I'm happy (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647389)

I am glad i have a nice small 80MB Hard drive that only weighs 175lbs and is the size of a mini fridge.

Isn't progress grand ;)

Of course i can't actually TURN IT ON as it draws 1950w on startup and the old wiring in my house doesn't like that added to the seperate drive controller required plus the CPU plus the CRT....

One of these days i'll add a 20amp circuit so i can play electronic battleship again :) hehe, i have been playing multiplayer computer games for 25 years now :O

i have a pic if anyone wants but i don't want to slashdot my ISP ;)

Since there will be a zillion posts about 5-1/4" 10MB drives i need one of those for my blackmarket Compaq...

Its not that much (1)

matt21811 (830841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647517)

Just to give an idea, you can expect about only about 3000 visits over 4 hours from a link in a comment this far down in a story. Unless your photos are crazily large or your ISP has really mean quotas your site wont be "slasdoted" so just go ahead and post the link. People that enjoy this story will also enjoy your photos. Go ahead and share it around.

but! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647497)

I have a 305 RAMAC on my keychain, you insensitive clod!

Oh, you kids.....you just dont know........ (1)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647513)

Try spending hundreds for a tape drive for your Commodore64, and waiting 10 minutes to load a game.

Or $500.00 for 2Meg of Ram for my Amiga 1000.

Or $1K for my first 1Gig hard drive, thinking I would NEVER fill it.

I could talk about my Sinclair kit computer, but that was so long ago, I can barely remember the details myself.....

Yet they are still progressing too slowly (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647521)

We've had revolutions and evoloutions in technology over the last 25 years, from removable media, display devices (GPU and display itself) printing, communications etc

Hard disks are basically a very clever tape drive, it's sequentially laid out information that has a head clever enough to access the data anywhere on the disk.

Sure they don't cost much now, they seem relatively reliable, sometimes even cheap, kind of big and kind of fast, well they seem that way anyhow.
In my not so humble opinion, the hard drive is the ass end of our machines, almost aways being responsible for us sitting around waiting.
It's high time we had disks in the multi-terrabyte sizes and more so high time we had very very high performance disks. 100mb a second (very best case scenario) simply doesn't cut it, not with 7-20ms random access times.
Give us ns level access times and a couple of gb a second please (anyone who responds with SATA is 300gb a second, please excuse yourself from this website)

Hard drives, I love them and I hate them, always the reason my fingers are twiddling.

Fake (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647543)

This article smells of bullshit. I won't believe it until I look it up on Snopes!

Sad Commentary... (-1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647577)

The fact is that, at the time, 4.4 meg was PLENTY enough for almost any purpose. It's a sad fact that modern software/data file type bloat has kept pace or exceeded the ability to provide storage. Doing the same job today *demands* gigantic HDs. For that matter then computer it was attached to would have been embarrasingly slow by modern standards, but it too was more than sufficient for the task.

        Brett

Re:Sad Commentary... (1)

radish (98371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647889)

How does "modern software/data file type bloat" account for the fact that a single image from my digital camera would need two of these drives? Oh right - it doesn't. The fact is that back then 4.4mb was plenty enough for any purpose that could be envisaged. People simply hadn't though of digital imaging, video or audio. Most of the spreadsheets or text documents on my HD are still in the 10's of kbytes whilst most of the FLAC or AVI files are in the 10's or 100's of mbytes. And this isn't because of inefficiency, current media-oriented data types are typically exceptionally space efficient (they have to be as people want to pull them over the net all the time).

I'm so fed up of people who cry about bloat all the time simply because hardware specs are going up when the reality is we do more with computers now than we used to. Or at least we can, if you're happy with a 80 column mono terminal and what it can do for you then that's great.

Tip a rack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21647605)

I recall hearing a story of a giant, rack mountable hard drive mounted at the top of a rack and someone writing code to seek the drive back and forth until the rack toppled.

Strong magnets. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647807)


A few days ago I took apart one of the first barracuda disks (broken) and found, besides the 10 plates (beauty!) and some interesting parts of more or less unknown purpose, two extremely strong magnets for moving the head. The magnets are really strong and the drives can be bought dirt cheap or even for free.

Lets see the gov haul this baby out of my bedroom! (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21647833)

Good luck with it feds... If you can move it.... and you can prove that the 1 mp3 on it, is illegal and that i downloaded it.... You deserve my taxes.

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