HARD DISK DRIVE GUIDE
A Brief History of the Hard Disk Drive
Last updated: 5/19/2005
The hard disk drive has short and fascinating history. In
24 years it evolved from a monstrosity with fifty two-foot diameter disks
holding five MBytes (5,000,000 bytes) of data to today's drives measuring 3 /12
inches wide and an inch high (and smaller) holding 400 GBytes (400,000,000,000
bytes/characters). Here, then, is the short history of this marvelous
Before the disk drive there were drums... In 1950 Engineering
Research Associates of Minneapolis built the first commercial magnetic drum
storage unit for the U.S. Navy, the ERA 110. It could store one million
bits of data and retrieve a word in 5 thousandths of a second.
1956 IBM invented the first computer disk storage system, the 305 RAMAC (Random
Access Method of Accounting and Control). This system could store five
MBytes. It had fifty, 24-inch diameter disks!
By 1961 IBM had invented the first disk drive with air
bearing heads and in 1963 they introduced the removable disk pack drive.
In 1970 the eight inch floppy disk drive was introduced
by IBM. My first floppy drives were made by Shugart who was one of
the "dirty dozen" who left IBM to start their own companies. In
1981 two Shugart 8 inch floppy drives with enclosure and power supply cost
me about $350.00. They were for my second computer. My first
computer had no drives at all.
In 1973 IBM shipped the model 3340 Winchester sealed hard
disk drive, the predecessor of all current hard disk drives. The 3340
had two spindles each with a capacity of 30 MBytes, and the term "30/30
Winchester" was thus coined.
|Seagate ST4053 40 MByte
5 1/4 inch, full-height "clunker"
with ST506 interface and voice coil
circa 1987. My cost was $435.00.
In 1980, Seagate Technology introduced the first hard disk
drive for microcomputers, the ST506. It was a full height (twice as
high as most current 5 1/4" drives) 5 1/4" drive, with a stepper
motor, and held 5 Mbytes. My first hard disk drive was an ST506. I
cannot remember exactly how much it cost, but it plus its enclosure, etc.
was well over a thousand dollars. It took me three years to fill the
drive. Also, in 1980 Phillips introduced the first optical laser drive. In
the early 80's, the first 5 1/4" hard disks with voice coil actuators
(more on this later) started shipping in volume, but stepper motor drives
continued in production into the early 1990's. In 1981, Sony
shipped the first 3 1/2" floppy drives.
In 1983 Rodime made
the first 3.5 inch rigid disk drive. The first CD-ROM
drives were shipped in 1984, and "Grolier's Electronic Encyclopedia," followed
in 1985. The 3 1/2" IDE drive started its existence as a
drive on a plug-in expansion board, or "hard card." The
hard card included the drive on the controller which, in turn, evolved
into Integrated Device Electronics (IDE) hard disk drive, where the controller
became incorporated into the printed circuit on the bottom of the hard
disk drive. Quantum made the first hard card in 1985.
In 1986 the first 3 /12" hard disks with voice coil
actuators were introduced by Conner in volume, but half (1.6") and full
height 5 1/4" drives persisted for several years. In 1988 Conner
introduced the first one inch high 3 1/2" hard disk drives. In
the same year PrairieTek shipped
the first 2 1/2" hard disks.
1997 Seagate introduced the first 7,200 RPM, Ultra ATA hard disk drive for
desktop computers and in February of this year they introduced the first
15,000 RPM hard disk drive, the Cheetah X15. Milestones for IDE DMA,
ATA/33, and ATA/66 drives follow:
- 1994 DMA, Mode 2 at 16.6 MB/s
- 1997 Ultra ATA/33 at 33.3 MB/s
- 1999 Ultra ATA/66 at 66.6 MB/s
triples the capacity of the world's smallest hard disk drive. This
drive holds one gigabyte on a disk which is the size of an American quarter. The
world's first gigabyte-capacity disk drive, the IBM 3380, introduced in
1980, was the size of a refrigerator, weighed 550 pounds (about 250 kg),
and had a price tag of $40,000.
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- What is an IDE Hard Disk Drive >
Computer Museum History Center Interesting site with pictures.
history of IBM "firsts" in storage technology
drives take eventful spin by George Rostky