This Is What A 5MB IBM Hard Drive Looked Like in 1956 [Video]


Technology has come a very long way in 60 years. Televisions have gotten thinner, bigger and lighter. Cars have become smarter, faster and more efficient. Telecommunication has become more widely available, and the world is more connected than ever before. And of course data storage capacities have grown from MB (megabyte) to YB’s (yottabyte). Which brings us to the beast in the pictures, made by IBM circa 1956 – 1957 it is a 5MB IBM hard drive. Yes indeed, a whopping 5MB of storage, 5,000,000 bytes! This massive hard drive was state of the art back in that time and IBM would lease it to companies for $3,200 a month. The hard drive was run with vacuum tubes and it took a forklift to move it around. Fifty aluminum disks made up the platters in which the data was stored.


The 350 Disk Storage Unit consisted of the magnetic disk memory unit with its access mechanism, the electronic and pneumatic controls for the access mechanism, and a small air compressor. Assembled with covers, the 350 was 60 inches long, 68 inches high and 29 inches deep. It was configured with 50 magnetic disks containing 50,000 sectors, each of which held 100 alphanumeric characters, for a capacity of 5 million characters.


click to enlarge

Disks rotated at 1,200 rpm, tracks (20 to the inch) were recorded at up to 100 bits per inch, and typical head-to-disk spacing was 800 microinches. The execution of a “seek” instruction positioned a read-write head to the track that contained the desired sector and selected the sector for a later read or write operation. Seek time averaged about 600 milliseconds.

With storage capacities of 5 million and 10 million digits, and the capability to be installed either singly or in pairs, the 350 provided the 305 system with storage capacities of 5, 10, 15 or 20 million characters.

Makes you wonder where we’re going to be 60 years from now when it comes to technology. What do you think of this massive 5MB hard drive? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

  Source: Snopes
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