In Pictures: Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice. The PC's origin story

Technology marches relentlessly onward, discarding the old to make way for the new. Today’s heroes quickly becomes yesterday’s news.

In Pictures: Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice. The PC's origin story prev next

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Super-sized storage Hard drives, as we know them, have technically been around since 1956, when IBM shipped them as part of the RAMAC 305, a system as large as a pair of refrigerators. These puppies weren’t like today’s svelte 3.5-inch storage options, though: The RAMAC’s hard drive consisted of 50—count ’em, 50—24-inch platters. The RAMAC 305 offered 5MB of data space, at an approximate cost of $10,000 per megabyte. (And you thought SSDs were expensive!)

Those spinning platters eventually got smaller, thanks to the march of technology, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that hard drives became a somewhat common feature in mainstream PCs. Even then, floppy drives remained ubiquitous for years thereafter.

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In Pictures: Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice. The PC's origin story

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