Computer Science

First Storage Device?

Digital Data Storage (DDS) is a Digital Audio Tape (DAT)-based computer data storage technique created in the 1980s. DDS should be used largely as offline storage, in particular for the production of backup copies of working data. With the exception of recent formats DAT-160 and DAT-320, each DDS cartridge utilises a tape width of 3,81mm, both of which are 8mm wide.

The tape was either 60 metres or 90 metres long. Initially the tape was 60 metres.  Improved material technology has made it possible for consecutive models to expand the length dramatically. A DDS tape drive uses the same mechanism as a video cassette recorder, helical scan recording (VCR). Compatibility between newer drives and older cartons is not secured; manufacturers will need to look at compatibility matrices.

Drives can usually read and write tapes in a previous generation format, most of which (but not all of them) can read and write cassettes from two previous generations. Note in HP’s article that newer tape standards are not only longer tapes; for example with DDS-2, the path was narrower than DDS-1.

Interesting facts about digital storage

  • Basile Bouchon established in 1725 the first known method of data storage, the punch card. The punch card is a perforated paper loop used instead of actual data to store patterns. Punch cards were in fact used to store configurations on several machines and were capable of 960 bits.
  • The inventor of the fax machine, Alexander Bain, utilised punched tape for a first time in 1846. Punching tape consists of a lengthy paper strip in which data are stuffed with holes. Each strip line represents one letter, although a fanfold can be kept for significantly more data. Punch tape may contain up to a few tens of kilobytes when folded – far more data than punch cards.
  • In 1946, RCA started to develop the selectron tube, a random access store that was never commercially viable. The original Selectron tube was 10 inches long and 4096 bit storageable but expensive, therefore it was superseded by the widespread core memory in the market.
  • The Williams-Kilburn Tube, invented in 1947, featured the first fully electronic form of data storage. The device was 16 ½ inches long, 6 inches wide, and stored data by displaying a grid of dots on cathode ray tubes, and sending a static charge through the tubes.
  • Magnets were launched in the 1950s and the broadcasting and recording industries were revolutionised. Made of a magnetic cover on a long, thin strip of plastic magnetic tapes it is possible to create, store and quickly access unequalled quantities of data. Magnetic tape was the most popular storage of data until the mid 1980s since 1 TB, or as many data as 10,000 punch cards, could be stored in a single roll.
  • Philips created the Compact Cassette as a kind of magnetic tape in 1963, but it only became popular in the 1970s. A standard 90-minute cassette may contain around 700kB of data to 1MB each side of the tape. Compact cassettes were used in several computers to save data, and they remained popular until the end of the 1980s.
  • In computers the main working memory was generally using magnet drums, granting computers the label “drum machines” throughout the 1950s and the 1960s. These drums were 16 cm long and rotated at a pace of 12500 rpm. The IBM 650 was one of the earliest computers of IBM that had a magnetic drum. The IBM 650 was used to provide 10,000 main memory characters.
  • A read-only 8-inch device was introduced into the first disk in 1969 to store 80kB of data. A disk with the same size of 256kB was invented in 1973 with the ability to write new data. Since then, smaller yet greater data storing floppy disks have been manufactured. The floppy disk’s average capacity is about 1.44MB.
  • The first disk drive IBM released in 1956 was a data storage revolution that could reserve up to 4.4MB. On 50 24 inch magnetic discs, the 305 RAMAC stood its information. The hard drives have improved constantly since the 305 RAMAC was introduced. The first hard drive saved around 120,000 times more data than IBM’s 500GB RAMAC. Today, quicker and less expensive hard drives are able to store more data.
  • In 1958, LaserDisc technology was pioneered, even if it only existed on the market in 1978. This type of disc is the first commercial optical recording medium and is a home video format. Typical hard drive data cannot be stored on those discs, although video and image data can be saved better than VHS tapes.
  • The compact disc (CD) originates from the LaserDisc, and stores fewer data. In 1979 SONY and Philips developed CDs that were launched onto the market in 1982. Originally designed only for the storing of sounds, they have expanded into data storage. A typical CD can currently contain 700MB of information.
  • In general, a CD with a new kind of laser technology is a Digital Versatile disc (DVD). A DVD laser employs a smaller infrared light instead of red light, to store more data on the same space as a CD. Dual layer DVDs are capable of storing 8.5 GB of data, invented by Philips, SONY, Toshiba and Panasonic in 1995.
  • The flash drive has become one of the most efficient and important inventions in data storage. This gadget was introduced in 2000 and has the ability to start from a USB key, upgrade a BIOS system and 8MB of storage space. However, a number of flash drives store 256GB, and the devices of today come in many fun designs.
  • First introduced in 2002, Blu-ray was not completed before 2006. Like DVDs, blu-ray discs can hold more information using shorter blue laser wavelengths. Blu-ray can stored far more on a single layer disc than a CD or DVD with up to 25GB of space and on a two-layer disc double. While Blu-ray is costly, studios only support the disc.

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