Timeline: 50 Years of Hard Drives

Rex Farrance, PC World
PC World
Wednesday, September 13, 2006; 11:10 PM

Over the past five decades, hard drives have come a long way. Travel through time with us as we chronicle 50 milestones in hard-drive development--from product firsts to new technologies, and everything in between.

1956: IBM ships the first hard drive, the RAMAC 305, which holds 5MB of data at $10,000 a megabyte. It is as big as two refrigerators and uses 50 24-inch platters. (For the full story and interviews with key players, read " The Hard Drive Turns 50 .")

1961: IBM invents heads for disk drives that "fly" on a cushion of air or on "air bearings."

1963: IBM comes up with the first removable hard drive, the 1311, which has six 14-inch platters and holds 2.6MB.

1966: IBM introduces the first drive using a wound-coil ferrite recording head.

1970: General Digital Corporation (renamed Western Digital in 1971) is founded in California.

1973: IBM announces the 3340, the first modern "Winchester" hard drive, which has a sealed assembly, lubricated spindles, and low-mass heads.

1978: First RAID (Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks) technology patent is filed. (Read " How to Buy a Hard Drive: Key Features " for a description of this technology.)

1979: A group headed by Al Shugart founds disk-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology.

1979: IBM's 3370 uses seven 14-inch platters to store 571MB, the first drive to use thin-film heads.


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