Today (August 20, 2006) is the 50th anniversary of the hard drive.
On Sept. 13, 1956, an IBM lab at 99 Notre Dame Road in San Jose began shipping a product that changed history.
It is Silicon Valley's unsung hero, though it taught us bits and the mega, giga, tera, peta and exa bytes. Dubbed RAMAC, or Random Access Method of Accounting and Control, it was the original hard drive, a funny-looking giant machine with 50 spinning, 24-inch-wide disks covered with red paint.
It cost about $50,000 a year to lease in 1956 dollars -- equivalent to nearly $350,000 today -- and had 5 megabytes of information, about enough space to store one song on an iPod.
And we think that we don't have enough storage these days. I think we really take the hard drive for granted these days...it's the computer industry's unknown hero. If it wasn't for the hard drive, many things today wouldn't even be possible.
On a somewhat related note, Hitachi plans to bring out 1TB desktop hard drives by the end of this year, further bringing the hard drive war to higher levels.