Friday, August 13, 2010

History of hard disk drives

The commercial usage of hard disk drives began in 1956 with the shipment of an IBM 305 RAMAC system including IBM Model 350 disk storage.[1]

For many years, hard disk drives were large, cumbersome devices, more suited to use in the protected environment of a data center or large office than in a harsh industrial environment (due to their delicacy), or small office or home (due to their size, cost, and power consumption). Before the early 1980s, most hard disk drives had 8-inch (actually, 210 - 195 mm) or 14-inch platters, required an equipment rack or a large amount of floor space (especially the large removable-media drives, which were frequently comparable in size to washing machines), and in many cases needed high-current and/or three-phase power hookups due to the large motors they used. Because of this, hard disk drives were not commonly used with microcomputers until after 1980, when Seagate Technology introduced the ST-506, the first 5.25-inch hard drives, with a formatted capacity of 5 megabytes.

The capacity of hard drives has grown exponentially over time. With early personal computers, a drive with a 20 megabyte capacity was considered large. During the mid-1990s the typical hard disk drive for a PC had a capacity of about 1 GB[2]. As of July 2010, desktop hard disk drives typically have a capacity of 500 to 1000 gigabytes, while the largest-capacity drives are 3 terabytes.

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