Tech Tuesday: 1956 Hard Disk Drive vs. 2013 Flash Drive

By  //  June 18, 2013

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ABOVE VIDEO: IBM 305 RAMAC. IBM introduces its 305 RAMAC and 650 RAMAC machines. The first to use a magnetic hard disk for data storage, RAMAC technology becomes an industry standard. The storage capacity of the 305’s 50 two-foot-wide disks amounts to five megabytes of data.

IBM 35 Disk Storage Unit in 1956. Image Courtesy of IBM
IBM 35 Disk Storage Unit in 1956. Image Courtesy of IBM

Computer data storage is essential for modern business, and today’s consumers pay a fraction of the cost for exponential amount of storage.

In 1956,  IBM introduced the first commercial disk drive, which held five megabytes of data and weighed over a ton. IBM leased the 350 Disk File for a $35,000 annual fee. By comparison, an eight gigabyte  flash drive holds 8,192 megabytes , measures approximately two-three inches long and  can be purchased for less than $10.

Known as the RAMAC, the storage unit cost $35,000 for an annual lease. Chrylser’s Mopar Division was the first company to utilize the RAMAC.  In 1957, Chrysler used the RAMAC for tracking inventory of auto parts.

“The IBM 350 Disk Storage Unit was rolled out in 1956 to be used with the IBM 305 RAMAC to provide storage capacities of five, 10, 15 or 20 million characters. It was configured with 50 magnetic disks containing 50,000 sectors, each of which held 100 alphanumeric characters.”-IBM