Hard drive celebrates 50 years this September

It's hard to believe, but the hard drive will turn 50 this September 13.

It just seemed like yesterday that it took 50 24-inch diameter platters coated with iron oxide paint mounted on a rotating spindle to store 5MB. (That would be the RAMAC, the drive in the IBM System 305 Computer. Now you can do that with a pocket drive. Meanwhile, commercial desktop drives hold up to 750GB.

Drives have doubled in capacity roughly every two years, allowing the emergence of the PC, the music player, Google and Amazon.com.

And think of the financial rewards. If you converted all of the profits of the drive industry into nickels and stacked them up, the pile would surpass the roof of a Volkswagen Vanagon.

As the year rolls on, expect a walk down memory lane from companies like Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Seagate and Toshiba.

The date, by the way, comes courtesy of Hitachi, which bought IBM's drive division in 2002.

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    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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