A Brief History of Data Storage - DATAVERSITY (2023)

A Brief History of Data Storage - DATAVERSITY (1)

Punch cards were the first attemptdata storagein a machine language. Punch cards were used to transmit information to devices "before" computers were developed. The hole punches originally represented a "sequence of instructions" for equipment such astextile loomsand pianos. The holes acted as an on/off switch. In 1725, Basile Bouchon developed the punch card to control looms.

In 1837, just over 100 years later, Charles Babbage proposed the Analytical Engine, a primitive calculator with moving parts that used punched cards for instructions and answers. Herman Hollerith developed this idea and made the Analytical Engine a reality, in which the holes represented not just a sequence of instructions, but stored data that the machine could read.

He developed a punch card data processing system for the 1890 US Census and then started theTabulating Machine Companyin 1896. By 1950, punch cards had become a staple of American industry and government. The “do not fold, spin, or mutilate” warning comes from punched cards. Punch cards were still used fairly regularly up until the mid-1980s. (Punch cards are still used to record the results of standardized tests andballot.)

During the 1960s, "magnetic storage" gradually replaced the punch card as the primary means of data storage. Magnetic tape was first patented by Fritz Pfleumer in 1928. (Cassettes were often used in home-made "personal computers" in the 1970s and '80s.) In 1965, Mohawk Data Sciences offered a magnetic tape encoder that was described as a punch card replacement. By 1990, the combination of affordable personal computers and "hard disk storage" had almost made punch cards obsolete.

In the past, the terms "data storage" and "memory" were often used interchangeably. Currently, however, data storage is an umbrella term that includes memory. Data storage is often viewed as long-term, while memory is often described as short-term.

Random access memory vacuum tubes

In 1948, Professor Fredrick Williams and colleagues developed the "first" random access memory (RAM) for storing frequently used programming instructions, which in turn increased the computer's overall speed. Williams used an array of cathode ray tubes (a form ofvacuum tube) to act as an on/off switch and store 1024 bits of information digitally.

Data in RAM (sometimes referred to as volatile memory) is temporary, and when a computer loses power, the data is lost and often frustratingly irretrievable. ROM (Read Only Memory), on the other hand, is permanently written and remains available after a computer loses power.

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Magnetkern, Twistor & Bubble Memory

In the late 1940s, magnetic core memory was developed and patented, and for over a decade became the primary way early computers wrote, read, and stored data. The system used a grid of current-carrying wires (address and sense wires) with ring-shaped magnets (calledThe ferrite core) circles where the wires crossed. Address lines polarized the magnetic field of a ferrite core one way or the other, creating a switch representing a zero or one (on/off). The arrangement of the address and sense wires passing through the ferrite cores allows each core to store one bit of data (on/off). Each bit is then grouped into units called words to form a single memory address when accessed together.

In 1953, MIT acquired the patent and developed the first computer to use this technology, called Whirlwind. Faster and more efficient than punch cards, magnetic core memory quickly became popular. However, their production was difficult and time-consuming. It was delicate work, where women with steady hands and microscopes laboriously threaded thin wires through very small holes.

TheMagnetic Twistor storagewas invented by Andrew Bobeck in 1957. It creates computer memory using very fine magnet wires interwoven with live wires. It is similar to core memory, but the wrapped magnet wires replace the circular magnets, and each crossing in the network represents a bit of data. The magnet wires are specially designed to allow magnetization only along certain lengths, allowing only certain areas of the twistor to be magnetized and change polarization (on/off).

Bell Labs promoted Twistor technology and described it as superior to magnetic core memory. The system weighed less, required less power, was cheaper to manufacture and was predicted to offer much lower production costs. The Twistor Memory concept prompted Mr. Bobeck in the 1980s to develop another ephemeral magnetic memory technology known asbubble memory. Bubble memory is a thin magnetic film with small magnetized areas that look like bubbles.

semiconductor memory

In 1966 the newly establishedIntel Corporationstarted selling a semiconductor chip with 2,000 bits of memory. Asemiconductor memory chipstores data in a small circuit called a memory cell. Memory cells consist of miniaturized transistors and/or miniaturized capacitors that act as on/off switches.

A semiconductor can conduct electricity under certain conditions, making it an excellent medium for controlling current. Its conductivity varies depending on the current or voltage applied to a control electrode. A semiconductor device offers a superior alternative to vacuum tubes and delivers hundreds of times more computing power. A single microprocessor chip can replace thousands of vacuum tubes and uses significantly less power.

magnetic disk storage

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Magnetic drums were the first incarnation of magnetic disk storage. Gustav Taushek, an Austrian inventor, developed themagnetic drumin 1932. The drum read/write heads were designed with a circumferentially offset system for each drum track. With no head movement for control, the access time is fairly short as it is based on one revolution of the drum. When multiple heads are used, data can be transferred quickly, which helps make up for the lack of RAM in these systems.

IBM is primarily responsible for driving the early development of magnetic disk storage. They invented both theDiskettedrive and thehard diskand their employees are credited with many of the improvements that support the products. IBM designed and manufactured disk storage devices between 1956 and 2003, and then sold its "hard disk business" to Hitachi in 2003.

IBM shifted its focus to 8-inch floppy disks from 1969 to the mid-1980s. A floppy disk is an easy-to-remove (and easy-to-install) portable storage device. It consists of a magnetic sheet encased in a flexible plastic and is inexpensive to manufacture. IBM developed the 8-inch diskette specifically for the System/370 mainframe. On the other hand, a floppy disk is very easy to damage.

In 1976, Allan Shugart improved IBM's floppy disk by developing a smaller version of it. This is because IBM's 8-inch floppy disk was too large for a standard desktop computer. The new 5.25-inch floppy was cheaper to produce and could store 110 kilobytes of data. These floppy disks became very popular and were used on most personal computers.

The 3.5 inch floppy disk (introduced in 1982) gradually became more popular than the 5.25 inch floppy disk. The 3.5 version came with a distinct advantage. It had a rigid cover that protected the magnetic film inside. However, both formats remained quite popular until the mid-1990s. (Several size variants have been introduced over time, but with very little marketing success.)

optical data carriers

In the 1960s, an inventor named James T. Russel pondered and worked on the idea of ​​using light as a mechanism to record "music" and then play it back. And nobody took his invention of theoptical discseriously, until 1975. Back then, Sony paid Russel millions of dollars to complete his project. This investment led to him completing the project in 1980, which in turn led to CDs (Compact Discs), DVDs (Digital Video Recordings) and Blu-Ray. (The word "disk" is used for magnetic recording, while "disc" is used for optical recording. IBM, which had no optical formats, preferred the "k" spelling, but in 1979, Sony and a Dutch company called Philips preferred it reserves the right to use the "c" notation when developing and trademarking the CD.

Magneto-optical disks

TheMagneto-optical disk, as a hybrid storage medium, was presented in 1990. This disc format uses both magnetic and optical technologies to store and retrieve digital data. The discs are usually available in 3.5 and 5.25 inch sizes. The system reads sections of the disc with different magnetic orientations. The laser light reflected from the different polarizations varies due to the Kerr effect and provides an on/off bit data storage system.

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When preparing the disc for writing, each section of the disc is heated with a powerful laser, and then cooled under the influence of a magnetic field. This has the effect of magnetizing the memory areas in an "off" direction. The writing process reverses the polarization of certain areas and turns them on for storing data.

flash drives

Flash drives hit the market in the late 2000s.A flash driveconnects to computers with a built-in USB connector, making it a small, easily removable, highly portable storage device. Unlike a traditional hard drive or optical drive, it has no moving parts but combines chips and transistors for maximum functionality. In general, the storage capacity of a flash drive ranges from 8 to 64 GB. (Other sizes are available but can be hard to find.)

A flash drive can be rewritten almost indefinitely and is immune to electromagnetic interference (which makes it ideal for navigating through airport security). Because of this, flash drives have completely replaced floppy disks for portable storage. With their large storage capacity and low cost, flash drives are now poised to replace CDs and DVDs.

Flash drives are sometimes referred to as pen drives, USB drives, thumb drives, or jump drives. Solid State Drives (SSD), sometimes referred to as flash drives, are larger and cumbersome to carry around.

Solid State Drives (SSD)

variations ofSolid State Driveshave been used since the 1950s. An SSD is a non-volatile storage device that basically does everything a hard drive can do. It stores data on interconnected flash memory chips. The memory chips can either be part of the system's motherboard or a separate box designed and wired to connect to a laptop or desktop hard drive. The flash memory chips are different from those used for USB sticks, making them faster and more reliable. This means that an SSD is more expensive than a USB stick of the same capacity.

SSDs "can" be portable, but they don't fit in your pocket.

data silos

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Data silos are a type of data storage system.data silosStore data for a company or a department of the company that is not compatible with their system but is deemed important enough to retain for later translation. For many companies, this was a huge amount of information. Data silos eventually became useful as a source of information for Big Data and were deliberately used for that purpose. Then came data lakes.

data lakes

Data lakes were created specifically to store and process big data, with multiple organizations aggregating massive amounts of information into oneDatensee. A data lake stores data in its native format and is typically processed by a NoSQL database (a data warehouse uses a hierarchical database). NoSQL handles the data in all its various forms and allows raw data processing. Most of this information could be obtained by users via the Internet.

cloud data storage

The internet did thatCloudsavailable as a service. Internet improvements such as Technologies such as continued reductions in storage capacity costs and improved bandwidth have made it more economical for individuals and businesses to use the cloud for data storage. The cloud essentially offers its user an infinite amount of data storage. Cloud services offer almost unlimited scalability and access to data from anywhere and anytime. Commonly used to back up information originally stored on-site for availability in the event of a corporate system failure. Cloud security is a major concern for users, and service providers have built security systems like encryption and authentication into the services they provide.

Photo credit: photokup/Shutterstock.com



What is the brief idea of data storage? ›

Data storage refers to the use of recording media to retain data using computers or other devices. The most prevalent forms of data storage are file storage, block storage and object storage, with each being ideal for different purposes.

What was the first data storage? ›

The tube, tested in 1947, was the first high-speed, entirely electronic memory. It used a cathode ray tube (similar to an analog TV picture tube) to store bits as dots on the screen's surface. Each dot lasted a fraction of a second before fading so the information was constantly refreshed.

Who invented the first data storage? ›

1946: Williams Tube: The Williams tube is the first known type of random access memory (RAM). Created in the United Kingdom by Freddie Williams, the Williams tube uses electrostatic cathode-ray display tubes. The tube's early storage capacities ranged from 1024 to 2048 bits.

What is the history of storage in computer? ›

The first hard disk drive was the IBM Model 350 Disk File that came with the IBM 305 RAMAC computer in 1956. It had 50 24-inch discs with a total storage capacity of 5 million characters (just under 5 MB). Above: IBM Model 350, the first-ever hard disk drive.

What are the 3 types of data storage? ›

Forms of data storage

Data can be recorded and stored in three main forms: file storage, block storage and object storage.

What is the history of data storage? ›

Punch cards were the first effort at data storage in a machine language. Punch cards were used to communicate information to equipment “before” computers were developed. The punched holes originally represented a “sequence of instructions” for pieces of equipment, such as textile looms and player pianos.

What is the evolution of data storage? ›

Over the past 90 years, data storage evolved from magnetic drums and tapes to hard disk drives, then to mixed media, flash, and finally cloud storage. That's where we are today, and as our storage needs increase, innovation continues to evolve in multiple areas.

How many types of data storage are there? ›

There are two main types of digital data storage: Direct-attached storage and network-based storage.

Who is the leader in data storage? ›

This is a major opportunity that is opening up for the data storage market and its growth.
  • Data Storage Market: Key Drivers.
  • Top 5 Data Storage Companies in Global Market 2022.
  • Microsoft.
  • IBM.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
  • NetApp.

How was data stored before cloud? ›

Magnetic Storage

By the 1950s, there had been strong developments in using magnetic tape as a way to store and access data, which would become a precursor to the cassette tape. In 1956 the first useable hard drives were invented by IBM, which rotated magnetic strips on disks.

What is data storage system? ›

Data storage refers to the use of recording media to retain data using computers or other devices. The most prevalent forms of data storage are file storage, block storage, and object storage, with each being ideal for different purposes.

What is the purpose of data store? ›

A Data Store is a connection to a store of data, whether the data is stored in a database or in one or more files. The data store may be used as the source of data for a process, or you may export the written Staged Data results of a process to a data store, or both.

What is storage and why is it important? ›

Storage is used in offices, data centers, edge environments, remote locations and people's homes. Storage is also an important component in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Consumers and businesses rely on storage to preserve information ranging from personal photos to business-critical data.

What is the purpose of storage system? ›

Storage in computer systems. A storage device is a piece of hardware that is primarily used for storing data. Every desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone will have some kind of storage device within it. There are also standalone, external storage drives that can you can use across devices.

Why is data and storage important? ›

If a computer encounters a problem, data loss becomes a threat. This is the reason why proper data storage is necessary. It protects your information, and it's vital for disaster recovery.


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