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NOTE:  Items highlighted in RED are defined elsewhere in this Glossary, while items highlighted in BLUE are site links for further information.

Whether it is for backup, file transfer or storage, there has been a steady progression of storage media over the years.  Generally, capacity has increased, as has speed and durability.  Take a trip from the beginning...

  FLOPPY DISKS - See LINK for more.

* = Some disks are available “double-density” or “double-sided,” meaning data can be written on both sides of the disk

mag card

<<“Mag Cards” (magnetic cards) were precursors to computer disks, used in IBM, (1964), Lexitron (1970), Vydec (1974) and Wang (1975). At $7-10,000 these machines sold like hotcakes for enterprise users. Each card initially held about 8,000 characters, or about 2.5 typed pages. They were like magnetic keypunch cards, even though they were used in electronic typewriters.

8.5 floppy disk
5.25-inch_floppy_disk
3.5 in floppy disk

8 1/2 in. floppy disk:  Introduced by IBM in 1971, capacity of 100K (100,000 characters) and popularized by the Radio Shack TRS-80 PC. See also, Dr, Nakamats. [I was going to say “never used today” but I just saw on “60 Minutes” that the computers in U.S. missile silos use them. Click HERE for more.]

5.25 in floppy disk, introduced in 1976, still floppy, “do not fold, spindle or mutilate,” 160 - 360Mb*

3.5 in floppy disk, introduced 1982 by Sony; 1.44 Mb, first floppy to be made of hard plastic*

Stringy floppy photo

The so-called “stringy floppy” (drive and diskette shown above) was used in the original TRS-80 computers, but more resembled the tape cartridges shown below.

CDs, DVDs

CD
DVD

CD, 700Mb

DVD, 4.7/8.5Gb*

  EXTERNAL DEVICES

Blu-ray

Blu-Ray, introduced by Sony, 2000; 25/50Gb*

Flash Drive
External Drive

FLASH DRIVE, 8Gb up to 3Tb

EXTERNAL USB DRIVE, 40Gb up to 2Tb or more

  HARD DRIVE DISKS

  FOR HARD DRIVES, EVEN MORE PHOTOS, CLICK HERE

The first hard drive was shipped by IBM in the RAMAC 305 system, introduced on 9/4/56.  It was the size of 2 refrigerators, used 50 24” platters spinning at 1200 rpm and cost $50,000 for all of 5Mb of storage.  One of the disks in the stack is shown at right:

RAMAC3

  TAPE CARTRIDGES

Travan cartridge
SONY TAPE CARTRIDGES

Tape Cartridge, invented in 1951 by Remington Rand; e.g. Travan 2120 cartridge -  250Mb

Tape cartridges are still in use very much today.  Above, Sony’s 2014 storage tapes for servers hold up to 185 terabytes (148 gigabits per square inch) of data.  They use a nano-grained magnetic layer for greater density.  But because access is “sequential” (only in the order it was written) tape retrieval can be a much slower process.

  ZIP, JAZ DISKS

The original version was known as a Bernoulli Box

Zip disk

Zip Disk, a/k/a “Superfloppy”; Iomega, 1994: 100Mb, then 250Mb and later 750Mb

Jazz Disk

Jaz Disk, Iomega, 1995, 250Mb, then 540Mb and later 1Gb

 SD STORAGE CARDS

SD Memory Cards:  Forms (at right) include SD, Mini-SD, and Micro SD.  There are also other less common varieties; 512Mb - 512Gb (In mid-2014, SanDisk introduced the Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-1 at 512Gb of storage, write speeds up to 90Mb/sec and transfer speeds of 95Mb/sec.

sd compared

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