CNET News does a brief history of hard drives in pictures.

There’s a cool photo article at CNet’s News.com that shows the progression of hard drives over the years. Here’s the description for the drive pictured on the right:

What high-tech product advances the fastest? It’s probably the hard drive. The capacity doubles easily every two years and sometimes every year, faster even than the chip progress described by Moore’s Law. The first drives took up storage closets. Now, a 5GB drive can fit in a phone. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which has made drives for years and also now owns IBM’s drive division, recently collected pictures from hard drive history and made a calendar. Here are some highlights.

The IBM System 305, the world’s first hard drive, debuted in 1956 and relied on the random access method of accounting and control (RAMAC) to store data. This is a side view. The entire device required 50 24-inch diameter platters coated with iron oxide paint mounted on a rotating spindle. It held 5MB, or about 1/100th of the amount in flash cards for cameras today.

My Amigas were the first computers I owned that could make use of a hard drive (with the exception of the A1000 that came out first) and I can remember being overjoyed at having 40MB of storage space to put my software on. When I bought the Amiga 2000 and used it to run my BBS system I was loaned a 1GB hard drive by a friend who owned his own PC repair business. The drive was a full-height 5 1/4 inch monstrosity that was too big to fit into the Amiga’s case so I had an extra long SCSI cable running out of the back of the A2000 and a separate power supply set up so I could sit the drive on top of some anti-static foam rubber on the hutch of my computer desk. Anytime someone logged into the BBS and it started accessing the drive the force of the drive head moving back and forth would cause the drive to dance a little jig on the foam rubber mat.

Now a days you can buy a drive smaller than your hamster, like this one:

Just in case your hamster should ever have a need for one. It still amazes me to think that I have in my pants pocket right now a USB Flash Drive that holds 64MB of data and another one on my desk at home that holds 512MB. What’s even more stunning to think about is that the 80GB hard drive I have in my current PC actually feels cramped these days. I can’t put all my games on it at the same time so I’m thinking at least a 200GB drive for the next machine I build, if not bigger.

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