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(Wired)   Remembering the RAMAC: a refrigerator-sized hard drive with five whole MBs of storage. But hey in 1956 that was a lot, and it worked   (wired.com) divider line 107
    More: Cool, RAMAC, Albert Hoagland, dry cask storage, Santa Clara University, air conditioning units, paper of record, refrigerators, first computer  
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3505 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Jan 2014 at 8:11 PM (33 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-06 07:03:51 PM
I kept some VAX discs for no particular reason for a long time.  We ended up shooting them like clay pigeons. Still have some Hollerith card decks and some 8" floppies in some long forgotten box that will show up on MTV Hoarders one day.
 
2014-01-06 07:04:32 PM
Oh, yeah, 640 K ought to be enough - Bill Gates.
 
2014-01-06 07:06:24 PM
My first hard drive was only 20mb, but it was far more reasonably sized.
 
2014-01-06 07:22:45 PM
My first hard drive held 5 MB, but it was only as large as a shoe box.

Damn thing still cost nearly 3 grand.
 
2014-01-06 07:38:57 PM
5MB is a lot of ASCII porn.
 
2014-01-06 08:07:20 PM

Radak: 5MB is a lot of ASCII porn.


Especially without an hierarchical filing system.
 
2014-01-06 08:14:11 PM
I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.
 
2014-01-06 08:19:18 PM
Disk drives are for pussies.

You haven't lived until you've spend an hour clearing a jam out of an IBM 2501 card reader.
 
2014-01-06 08:22:48 PM

Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.


Amazing, isn't it?  300mb isn't sufficient VIDEO memory these days.  I watch my 6 year old playing with her ipad mini and remember when I was her age staring at our Tandy 1000 with 384K of ram, 2 5 1/4" disk drives and stellar Tandy graphics with SIXTEEN color text!  As used to modern technology as I am (degree in computer science, work in IT) it still amazes me how far computers have come in such a short time.
 
2014-01-06 08:32:42 PM

Lt. Cheese Weasel: Oh, yeah, 640 K ought to be enough - Bill Gates.




Ignoring the fact that this is storage and not memory - there is zero evidence he ever said this. None. Whatsoever.
 
2014-01-06 08:33:24 PM

Lt. Cheese Weasel: I kept some VAX discs for no particular reason for a long time.  We ended up shooting them like clay pigeons. Still have some Hollerith card decks and some 8" floppies in some long forgotten box that will show up on MTV Hoarders one day.


They made great wind chimes.
 
2014-01-06 08:36:22 PM
I still have a platter from an old CDC 80MB disk pack that head crashed.  When it died, I got one of 300MB jobs of which Kibbler speaks.  If I had known that would happen, I would have crashed it sooner.  The brakes on my 80MB drive were shot, so I used a comb to defeat the lid lock, then jammed said comb into the hub to stop it spinning.
 
2014-01-06 08:40:32 PM

nekom: My first hard drive was only 20mb, but it was far more reasonably sized.


My first PC (but not computer) came with a 120MB drive, which in all honesty lived up to the salesmen's claim that we'd never fill it up; never did honestly didn't get above the 90MB mark.   Just now I was wondering why a single .TIFF file I was writing to an SD card was taking so long, so I looked... 40MB.    I've a 4TB disk that is literally full of media... crazy isn't it?


/Ancient machine only does 1MB/s to the SD Card reader, takes 32GB cards.
 
2014-01-06 08:41:16 PM

nekom: Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.

Amazing, isn't it?  300mb isn't sufficient VIDEO memory these days.  I watch my 6 year old playing with her ipad mini and remember when I was her age staring at our Tandy 1000 with 384K of ram, 2 5 1/4" disk drives and stellar Tandy graphics with SIXTEEN color text!  As used to modern technology as I am (degree in computer science, work in IT) it still amazes me how far computers have come in such a short time.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKWGGDXe5MA
 
2014-01-06 08:43:28 PM

Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.


Really?  I had a 130 MB hard drive around 1992 and I think it was a regular 3 1/2" drive size.  Around 1996 or so I had a Quantum Bigfoot drive that I think was 4 ish GB in a 5 1/4" drive running at 3600 RPM.  

A friend of mine had a 300 MB drive that he bought around 1988 or so for around $700.  I think it was a full height, full size drive.

I have worked with DASD drives (If you ever hear some old guy say DASD you know they worked for IBM), that were the size of a refrigerator, had platters the size of a pizza, and were belt driven with a belt that was 2 or 3 inches wide with probably a 1/3rd HP motor on them.  One of them had a head crash which was described in the daily log as a 'loud screech in the back followed by an error on the console'

I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.  I think the Windows 7 system idle process takes 24k.
 
2014-01-06 08:48:48 PM
"And it looked kinda like one of those massive cylindrical air conditioning units that used to sit outside your grade school cafeteria."

The air conditioning units we had in our school were installed in the outer walls of each room, we called them windows.
 
2014-01-06 08:52:27 PM
TheGreatGazoo:
I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.

I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.  I don't remember much about that, I was just a little toddler.  Our first PC clone (Tandy) had 384 (8086 or 8088?), second one had 640 (286).  We skipped the 386 entirely and our first 486 had couple megs, 4 maybe.  But not like memory today, you still had the base and extended memory, and it was a real pain in the dick to get all of the drivers to load into high memory.
 
2014-01-06 08:55:48 PM

nekom: 384K of ram


Luxury.  We had 32kb of RAM and 32kb of ROM.  The rest had to fit on a 5.25 floppy.
 
2014-01-06 08:56:34 PM

nekom: TheGreatGazoo:
I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.

I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.  I don't remember much about that, I was just a little toddler.  Our first PC clone (Tandy) had 384 (8086 or 8088?), second one had 640 (286).  We skipped the 386 entirely and our first 486 had couple megs, 4 maybe.  But not like memory today, you still had the base and extended memory, and it was a real pain in the dick to get all of the drivers to load into high memory.


Remember QEMM?
 
2014-01-06 08:58:03 PM
The first computer I ever owned personally was a Macintosh SE with a 20Mb hard drive (SCSI) because at the time of its purchase, I could not conceive of needing 40Mb capacity.

I later upgraded this old Mac with a 55Mb SCSI external "zero footprint" drive; this machine sits on the other side of my computer lab, though I will admit that I have not powered it on in more than 10 years.
 
2014-01-06 09:06:06 PM
I had one of these when I was a kid.

oldcomputers.net
 
2014-01-06 09:06:47 PM
My first hard drive was a Quantum 52MB drive, supposedly the first low-profile 3.5" drive on the market.  Still have it in a box somewhere.


Lt. Cheese Weasel: 640 K ought to be enough - Bill Gates


Except that he didn't actually say that.


Eddie Adams from Torrance: ou haven't lived until you've spend an hour clearing a jam out of an IBM 2501 card reader.


I never understood why cards took off when tape was so much easier.  You could even use compact audio cassettes as opposed to 1" reels if you needed to keep the cost down.
 
2014-01-06 09:08:43 PM
I started with a whopping 2kb of memory in a Timex Sinclair 1000. Of course that was tiny compared the computer we had on our ship, the USS wainwright. We had 3 Univac CP-642As , an armored computers the size of a sub-zero freezer, which was state of the art when it was built in 1964.

No worries about memory though. We had another 64K in an Extended Core Memory Unit. It was true core memory, consisting of a mesh made of copper and tiny ring shaped magnets. That was built by Sperry and was only the size of a normal refrigerator.

Now it gets exciting. Up until just before I arrived on the ship, paper tape was used to load the programs using technology Ada Lovelace would have understood. But during a refit a year before I arrived, we received actual magnetic tape.

To give you an idea of the tech I'm talking about, I was qualified for micro miniature repair. I knew how to solder together NOR gates.
 
2014-01-06 09:11:04 PM
Marcus Aurelius:
Remember QEMM?

Don't think we ever had that.  I remember himem, loadhi, something like emm386.  I still to this day use a dos box for various things, it's faster than using windows explorer for me.  Christ I still remember my Prodigy login for some reason.  Funny what the brain keeps sometimes.
 
2014-01-06 09:11:42 PM
I think this is the same drive Comcast uses for my DVR set-top-box. It also came with a dog's "choker" chain for a remote.
 
2014-01-06 09:11:58 PM
Makes more sense than a hard-drive-sized refrigerator.

Can't find the en-dash, and that's driving me nuts.

Yarr.
 
2014-01-06 09:14:08 PM

nekom: I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.


My first computer.  I was an Electronics Tech at the time, and Tandy sold schematics to the TRS-80.  Quickly figured out how to put my own 64k RAM in the machine (new chips had 2 more address lines you had to solder or something), thus saving bookoo bux over the official RAM upgrade.  You could only use 48k of that memory, the other 16 was video RAM.

CSB.  Had a friend that worked for a cable company and had a TRS-80.  I upped his machine to 64 MB, he modified my cable box to get all pay channels (including Playboy, whoo hoo!).

Figure his machine stayed usable 2-3 years, I kept that cable box for over 10.

CSB 2.  Around the same time figured out Atari game cartridges had a common PROM with one of the control lines inverted (CS I think).  Made cartridges with ZIFF sockets, built a library of games on floppys, and the entire second floor shared games.  At least the folks who knew how to replace a PROM did :)
 
2014-01-06 09:18:36 PM
meh
I remember working as a 3rd shift operator.
Having to mount 3330s.

my science we have come a long way. and people STILL talk about replacing hard drives with solid state?
ROFL

/next they are going to tell me about yet another limit that we will never, ever be able to beat, that was beaten. again.
/sure, we are getting close to some real limits. damn atoms.
 
2014-01-06 09:21:52 PM

Snotnose: nekom: I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.

My first computer.  I was an Electronics Tech at the time, and Tandy sold schematics to the TRS-80.  Quickly figured out how to put my own 64k RAM in the machine (new chips had 2 more address lines you had to solder or something), thus saving bookoo bux over the official RAM upgrade.  You could only use 48k of that memory, the other 16 was video RAM.

CSB.  Had a friend that worked for a cable company and had a TRS-80.  I upped his machine to 64 MB, he modified my cable box to get all pay channels (including Playboy, whoo hoo!).

Figure his machine stayed usable 2-3 years, I kept that cable box for over 10.

CSB 2.  Around the same time figured out Atari game cartridges had a common PROM with one of the control lines inverted (CS I think).  Made cartridges with ZIFF sockets, built a library of games on floppys, and the entire second floor shared games.  At least the folks who knew how to replace a PROM did :)


while the dark ages were FUN, I really dont miss pulling chips out of sockets and all that jazz.
I like jsut being able to plug stuff in and get right to gaming.

WHY did I ever throw that old hardware away?
It wouldnt be worth much, but the nostalgia alone would have been worth the storage space.
 
2014-01-06 09:23:35 PM
If you watch the video, I love how around 4:40 they say something along the lines of "A new method was discovered using magnetic disks and a retrieval arm.  Engineering a working machine was now the job of product development."

That probably glossed over 5 full years of work from the R+D and engineering folks.  I also like that one of the R+D guys probably looked at a record player and had an "ah-ha" moment.
 
2014-01-06 09:23:39 PM

nekom: TheGreatGazoo:
I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.

I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.  I don't remember much about that, I was just a little toddler.  Our first PC clone (Tandy) had 384 (8086 or 8088?), second one had 640 (286).  We skipped the 386 entirely and our first 486 had couple megs, 4 maybe.  But not like memory today, you still had the base and extended memory, and it was a real pain in the dick to get all of the drivers to load into high memory.


Trash80 Model I with Level I BASIC usually came with 4K RAM.  Usually.  Generally, the Level IIs and the (rare Level IIIs) came with 16K.

/learned BASIC on a Model I, Level II
//later, got a Trash80 Co-Co with 16K RAM and 1500baud cassette recorder
///can't bring myself to toss my old Mac SE with 4MB RAM and 20MB HDD, upgraded to 7.0 in 1991
 
2014-01-06 09:24:12 PM

namatad: /sure, we are getting close to some real limits. damn atoms.


fark atoms, we have a quantum computer!
 
2014-01-06 09:31:58 PM

Lsherm: namatad: /sure, we are getting close to some real limits. damn atoms.

fark atoms, we have a quantum computer!


No, the NSA has a quantum computer.  You have NOTHING for the next couple of decades.

/Or they start really pushing the latency limits on RAM and SSD's, and getting faster internet connections.  Seriously, hyperthreading is basically "I have so much free time waiting for this RAM to give me info that I might as well load up another entire thread".
 
2014-01-06 09:33:15 PM

Eddie Adams from Torrance: Disk drives are for pussies.

You haven't lived until you've spend an hour clearing a jam out of an IBM 2501 card reader.


Never worked with a 2501, but I *have* had to deal with a 1442 after someone put a card deck through it - with two cards *STAPLED* together.

/unfortunately, I was never able to identify the culprit and grant them the death they had earned.
 
2014-01-06 09:34:43 PM
Ok.  The thing looks to be about 1 meter in diameter.  I imagine the usable area of the disk is maybe half a square meter, and I doubt they used both sides.  There are 50 disks, so 25 square meters.  That's 25 million square millimeters, to 5 hold 5 megabytes.  So, roughtly 1 bit per 0.5 square millimeters.
 
2014-01-06 09:38:07 PM
5 MB can't even store an uncompressed screenshot of my monitor.
 
2014-01-06 09:39:08 PM

TheGreatGazoo: Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.

Really?  I had a 130 MB hard drive around 1992 and I think it was a regular 3 1/2" drive size.  Around 1996 or so I had a Quantum Bigfoot drive that I think was 4 ish GB in a 5 1/4" drive running at 3600 RPM.  

A friend of mine had a 300 MB drive that he bought around 1988 or so for around $700.  I think it was a full height, full size drive.

I have worked with DASD drives (If you ever hear some old guy say DASD you know they worked for IBM), that were the size of a refrigerator, had platters the size of a pizza, and were belt driven with a belt that was 2 or 3 inches wide with probably a 1/3rd HP motor on them.  One of them had a head crash which was described in the daily log as a 'loud screech in the back followed by an error on the console'

I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.  I think the Windows 7 system idle process takes 24k.


Hell, the diag panel on IBM SystemX servers I bought last year indicates hard drive problems with the notation 'DASD'.
 
2014-01-06 09:40:58 PM

TheGreatGazoo: Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.

Really?  I had a 130 MB hard drive around 1992 and I think it was a regular 3 1/2" drive size.  Around 1996 or so I had a Quantum Bigfoot drive that I think was 4 ish GB in a 5 1/4" drive running at 3600 RPM.  

A friend of mine had a 300 MB drive that he bought around 1988 or so for around $700.  I think it was a full height, full size drive.

I have worked with DASD drives (If you ever hear some old guy say DASD you know they worked for IBM), that were the size of a refrigerator, had platters the size of a pizza, and were belt driven with a belt that was 2 or 3 inches wide with probably a 1/3rd HP motor on them.  One of them had a head crash which was described in the daily log as a 'loud screech in the back followed by an error on the console'

I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.  I think the Windows 7 system idle process takes 24k.


(For those playing along at home, 'DASD' = 'Direct Access Storage Device'.)
 
2014-01-06 09:45:43 PM

Marcus Aurelius: nekom: 384K of ram

Luxury.  We had 32kb of RAM and 32kb of ROM.  The rest had to fit on a 5.25 floppy.


You were lucky. My first computer was a Vic=20 with 3.5kb and a tape drive. If I wanted to connect to a BBS via 300 baud modem, it was easier just to type in the 4-line terminal program that I had memorized.

But we were happier in those days, even though we were poor.
 
2014-01-06 09:48:27 PM
Its debut was only two years after this:

i.imgur.com
 
2014-01-06 09:53:23 PM
I started watching the video: "It is the business of some of us to think about the business of others." So, the NSA?
 
2014-01-06 09:53:52 PM

Marcus Aurelius: nekom: TheGreatGazoo:
I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.

I think that's what our old TRS-80 Model I Level I had.  I don't remember much about that, I was just a little toddler.  Our first PC clone (Tandy) had 384 (8086 or 8088?), second one had 640 (286).  We skipped the 386 entirely and our first 486 had couple megs, 4 maybe.  But not like memory today, you still had the base and extended memory, and it was a real pain in the dick to get all of the drivers to load into high memory.

Remember QEMM?


Oh GOD! Back in '92, I had to support desktop PCs on a project where we were running *Three* networks simultaneously: Novell NetWare, DEC DECnet, and Windows NT.

I had to set up standard DOS 6.22 configurations for user PCs to load all the necessary network (and CD-ROM) drivers - while still leaving (hopefully) at least 500 kb of free DOS RAM so the users could run MS Office.

Just to make it *interesting*, the PCs had 3 or 4 different network cards installed; some were running EMM386 and some were running QEMM386.

Talk about a farking jigsaw puzzle!
 
2014-01-06 09:58:45 PM
A dumb question, but what is the actual difference between the disk in TFA, and todays 1TB platters? More refined metals? stronger magnetic particles?
 
2014-01-06 10:00:46 PM
To this day, it remains filled with ASCII porn
 
2014-01-06 10:01:27 PM
I got into computers around 1998, so I got in when component's prices started to drop to a reasonable amount. But a friend told me of the days when a 100MB drive used to cost $1,000. Now I can buy a 1TB drive for $99.
 
2014-01-06 10:05:59 PM
wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net

And the hard drive's inhabitants were so very, very glad when someone finally did a virus scan on that damn thing.
 
2014-01-06 10:07:03 PM

Old enough to know better: A dumb question, but what is the actual difference between the disk in TFA, and todays 1TB platters? More refined metals? stronger magnetic particles?


That isn't a dumb question at all, I'd like to know the answer myself.  My guess would be better read/write heads allowing for much higher density of data.  But I've never worked in hardware so I'm quite likely wrong on that.
 
2014-01-06 10:19:59 PM
And when they sent it in for replacement under warranty they got a 10mb.
 
2014-01-06 10:36:43 PM

jtown: I had one of these when I was a kid.
[oldcomputers.net image 511x316]


Ah, the Mattel Aquarius. Still remember playing Astrosmash late at night on that thing.

First real computer for me was a used Wyse 286 (with the 287 math coprocessor) with a VGA graphics card, and it had been upgraded to 2mb RAM and a 40mb HD. It outperformed most of my friends' 386s when playing Wolfenstein. Unfortunately, whoever upgraded it used an IDE hard drive without replacing the MFM controller. I had all kinds of weird issues with it until that got fixed...

Anyway, I remember spending my youth trying to write sci-fi stories on that 286.  I distinctly remember that the flagship of some space fleet I imagined had a top of the line computer with 500gb of storage capacity. Because that was pretty much all I could imagine at the time... and I imagined it would take hundreds of years to get to that point.
 
2014-01-06 10:42:09 PM

Nicholas D. Wolfwood: TheGreatGazoo: Kibbler: I had a 300mb hard drive in 1991. It was the size of three fullheight drives and weighed over 10 pounds. 10 years later I bought my first 1gb flash drive.

Really?  I had a 130 MB hard drive around 1992 and I think it was a regular 3 1/2" drive size.  Around 1996 or so I had a Quantum Bigfoot drive that I think was 4 ish GB in a 5 1/4" drive running at 3600 RPM.  

A friend of mine had a 300 MB drive that he bought around 1988 or so for around $700.  I think it was a full height, full size drive.

I have worked with DASD drives (If you ever hear some old guy say DASD you know they worked for IBM), that were the size of a refrigerator, had platters the size of a pizza, and were belt driven with a belt that was 2 or 3 inches wide with probably a 1/3rd HP motor on them.  One of them had a head crash which was described in the daily log as a 'loud screech in the back followed by an error on the console'

I've used a computer that had 16K of RAM.  I think the Windows 7 system idle process takes 24k.

(For those playing along at home, 'DASD' = 'Direct Access Storage Device'.)


oh thank science I am not the only person who still uses DASD
 
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