1956: World’s First Hard Drive (5MB) (Nov, 1956)
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putting IDEAS to work â€” research at IBM
â€¢Random Access Memory Accounting: RAMACÂ®, magnetic-disk memory storage, gives fast access to 5,000,000 characters. IBM Bulletin No. 400.
â€¢Slanting Rain: “Shadows” created on a surface by its irregularities and discontinuities magnified 200,000 times through electron microscopy.
Random Access Memory Accounting
RAMAC, IBM’s newest data processing system, needed a unique memory storage system. Ordinary methods of memory storageâ€”magnetic tape, drums, ferrite coresâ€”couldn’t store enough “bits” of information. It took a research team of ours,withTriggNoyes and Wes Dickinson as key men at IBM’s San Jose Research Labs, to find the answer. The heart of this new idea: magnetic disks, played and replayed like the records in coin-operated music machines!
Here’s how it works: Information is stored, magnetically, on fifty disks which rotate at 1200 rpm. These disks are mounted so as to rotate about a vertical
axis, with a spacing of three tenths of an inch between disks. This spacing permits two magnetic heads to be positioned to any one of the 100 concentric tracks which are available on each side of each disk. Each track contains 500 alphanumeric characters. Total storage capacity: 5,000,000 characters. The two recording heads are mounted in a pair of arms which are moved, by a feed-back control system, in a radial direction to straddle a selected disk.
This new system promises memory storage possibilities never before accomplished. If you’d like to read more about the engineering design of this magnetic-disk, random access memory system, write for IBM Bulletin No. 400.
All of us have stood on a tall building on a cloudy day and looked down at the streetâ€”pretty difficult to judge relative heights of objects that far below, wasn’t it? But during late afternoon on a sunny day the lengths of shadows made your, estimates of height as easy as apple pie.
The 100,000-volt Electron Microscope at our Poughkeepsie Research Laboratory allows us to study the topography of surfaces in just the same way. Instead of relying upon the obstruction of light by objects on a surface, we cause them to obstruct a slanting rain of metal vapor. Where the rain falls on a thin collodion coating previously put on the surface, the transmissibility of electrons through the coating is altered when it is put into the Electron Microscope; the k4shadows”can be magnified and recorded on photographic film. A photographic enlarge-ment made from the film can result in magnification of 200,000 times, thus making it possible to clearly observe an object less than one ten-millionth of an inch in diameter; or, this dash, â€”, magnified to the extent that it would appear to be about Va mile long. This magnification is about 200 times greater than practical in light microscopy, primarily because of the greater resolution possible in the EM, due to the short effective wave length of electrons.
We regard the electron microscope as one of our most important research tools. It has in some cases provided the missing . data needed to understand the inter-relation of the variables in a problem; has in other cases allowed us to confirm a proposed new theory.
â€¢RESEARCH at IBM means IDEAS at work. For bulletin mentioned above, write International Business Machines Corp., Dept. SA-11, 590 Madison Ave., New York 22, N.Y.
IBM DATA PROCESSING
DATA PROCESSING â€¢ ELECTRIC TYPEWRITERS â€¢ TIME EQUIPMENT â€¢ MILITARY PRODUCTS