[NetBehaviour] Computer Data Storage Through the Ages -- From Punch Cards to Blu-Ray.

info info at furtherfield.org
Fri Mar 6 09:45:02 CET 2009

Computer Data Storage Through the Ages -- From Punch Cards to Blu-Ray.

by Paul Lilly.

Our next build may very well come configured with dual-SSD drives in a 
RAID 0 array for the OS, a gluttonous 2TB SATA HDD for storage duties, 
and a Blu-ray optical drive for movie watching and HD backups. And for 
quick transfers from one rig to another, does it get any sweeter than a 
64GB USB thumb drive loaded with all of your favorite apps? Such a 
storage scheme is certainly worthy of dream machine status, but our 
storage options weren't always as fanciful, fast, and fat as they are 
today. Some of you may remember toting a 3.5-inch floppy to and from 
school, while others hearken all the way back to cassette tapes.

Data storage no longer grows on trees, but that hasn't always been the 
case. We have to set our DeLorean for the 18th century to witness the 
birth of punch cards, which consisted of hard card stock with punched 
holes to represent data. In 1881, Herman Hollerith, who would later form 
IBM, designed a paper punch machine to tabulate census date. It had 
taken the U.S. Census Bureau eight years to complete the 1880 census, 
but thanks to Hollerith's invention, that time was reduced to just one 
year. The format really came into its own as a data processing 
technology in the 1900s, and by 1937, IBM was churning out up to 10 
million punch cards each day. The paper-based storage medium remained 
prominent up until the 1970s before giving way to magnetic tape.


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