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A Brief History Of The Computer Storage Systems

The storage devices that we use on our computers have come a long way since the early days of computer evolution.

From the days when storage devices were large objects that had to be moved by several people, to today.

Join us on this road as we look at the history of the storage device and how it has evolved over the decades.

Punch Cards

These are one of the earliest forms of storage devices that existed decades ago. In fact, they were the first mechanical storage devices.

Each punch card was able to hold a total of 80 characters. So you can see that you could not even store a Twitter tweet on it.

Punch cards can be traced to the 19th century when they were used in the programming of mechanical devices like looms and pianos. They were also commonly used for computers in the 1980s.

Magnetic Tape Drive

This was a very attractive storage device that was made up of a 120-foot roll of tape. It was capable of holding 230kb of data.

The magnetic tape drive was invented in Germany and was first used in storing data in the 1950s.

The magnetic tape drives made use of motors to wind the magnetic tape from one reel to another while passing a tape head for reading, writing, and cleaning the data.

A much more compact version of the magnetic tape drive became common in the 1980s. Some examples were the VHS and cassette tapes of the era.

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The magnetic tape drives are now no longer used. However, they are still used for archiving data today due to their inexpensive nature.

Magnetic Core

This was a new standard of storage device that was used in the MIT Whirlwind computer. The device worked by storing the data on tiny magnetic rings which are also known as cores.

The more magnetic core you had loaded in the memory, the more data you were able to store on it.

The core memory became a standard in computing works from the 1950s to the 1970s. In 2004, it was found that a magnetic core was still being used in a telephony control system.

The magnetic ore storage device is still able to attract the attention of enthusiasts even today.

Hard Disk Drive

Also known as the spinner doctor, this storage device was first introduced with a storage size of 3.75 MB.

This meant that the HDD had enough storage space to hold data than all its predecessors. The first hard disk drive was made by IBM in 1956, it came weighing over a ton and was as large as a fridge.

The hard disk drive worked by storing the data on one or more metal pallets that are rotating.

The HDD is still in perfect use today as the size has been greatly reduced from the fridge-sized one to the much smaller ones that are seen inside our computers today.

The storage sizes have also been increased and they can now store data worth over 400GB. We now have the solid-state drive (SSD) which was manufactured by Samsung and can hold up to 16TB of data.

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Floppy Disk

The first floppy disks that were developed were capable of holding about 80kb of data. They were by IBM at their San Jose laboratory in 1967.

They were originally uncovered magnetic disks which is where they got the name ‘flop’ from.

This later became floppy over time. The plastic envelopes were later added to prevent dirt from spoiling the data stored on them.

These were normally used by schools during computer lessons in the early 2000s.

Compact Disk

The compact disk was first introduced in 1982 and it was developed by both Sony and Phillips.

The initial ones had a capacity of 700MB. It worked to save data by focusing a laser beam on the surface of the disk.

They are still in use today although their popularity has gone down. There was also the digital video disk which came out in 1995 and it changed the movie industry as it removed the outdated VHS.

Zip Drive

The first zip drive was able to hold over 100 minutes of audio data and it was created in1994.


As you can see in this article, these are some of the storage devices that were in use before the ones like the pen drives and HDDs that we know today.

It is always good to go down memory lane and explore.


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