1956: 5MB Hard Disk Drive

‘In September 1956 IBM launched the 305 RAMAC, the first ‘SUPER’ computer with a hard disk drive (HDD). The HDD weighed over a ton and stored 5 MB of data.’

- Texomatube

19 Responses

  1. Ian Beyer

    Trying to ID the aircraft there – the cargo door looks like the rear cargo door on the Connie, but the fuselage and windows are the wrong shape. DC6 or DC7, maybe?

  2. David

    That looks rather like a drum drive, which were quite popular in early computers, but I see from Wikipedia that it DOES use disks – 50 of them, 24″ in diameter, giving 100 surfaces. Accessed by a pair of heads that were moved up and down to select teh right disk.

  3. Daniel D.

    While IBM was the first to introduce much of the computer hardware designs, such as the multiple disk configuration, they did NOT produce the first computer to be labeled as “Super”.

    The first parallel multiprocessor was the ILLIAC computer, one of which was installed at NASA Ames Research Center. This system used fixed head, rotating disk as central memory. Each of the 8 CPUs executed the same instruction at the same time.

    The first computer to be labeled “Super” was the CDC 6600, designed by Seymour Cray, first delivered in 1964. This was called “super” for the CPU configuration. The CPU only had access to central core memory and to the registers, thus were used only for computation. The system also contained a series of Peripheral Processors, known as PPs. (In later harware revisions they were called PPUs.) The were also referred to as barrel processors as the PPs shared a pool of memory and registers for the PPs. With each click of the PPs clock, the registers would rotate around the PPs. The PPs had access to all of the I/O channels of the system and the systems Central Memory. The PPs handled all of the I/O by moving data to/from Central memory and the attached devices. This allowed the fast CPU to be free to do only calculations, and the PPs to do the slower activities of I/O, thus making it a Super Computer.

  4. Tom Stickler

    The IBM development code name for the disk drive was “Winchester” which for a while was a generic term for a hard disk drive, at least within IBM.

    Somewhere I have a full-page ad for a 10MB HDD, 5 1/4 full height, only $4995.00!

  5. Peter H. Coffin

    Looks more like DC-6B, based on the alignment of the stripes with the windows. DC-7 tended to have strips offset from the top and bottom edges of the window by at least a little bit (2-6 inches), until the stripe was filled in for later schemes.

  6. bonjour toute le monde

    I got into the IT business when a 10MB drive was the size of a dishwasher.

    where will the technology be 10 yrs, 20 yrs from now?

  7. mike

    Hey Lucky, don’t be so quick to thank capitalism. Most of those were bought by the gubbmint.

  8. Bob

    compare that to a SansDisk 64GB thumb drive, available today for as little as $65, weighing in at about 30 grams

    • Dave

      I have a 4GB thumb drive with a beer bottle opener on the other end that was given away at a presentation at our Professional Association chapter meeting by the presenter.

  9. ken

    Hey mike, capitalism deals with the means of production. It doesn’t exclude the government from being one of the purchasers/beneficiaries of said production. Far from it. So once again, thanks capitalism!

    • extreme ismist

      Ah! Cheerleaders for “-isms” happily ruining Internet discourse for nigh on 20 years.

  10. Kevin

    It doesn’t weigh any ton. That little fork lift would never be able to lift it.

  11. Intactivist

    I have a memory card that is 10gb for my Nikon D40. Heck, my first computer had more storage than that. Mind = blown.

  12. The One

    The first computer I knew had only a 5 1/4 floppy bay, not even a HD. It read the DOS and then one switch the floppy for another with the desired application. In 1984 my Casio PB-1000 had a 64 kB memory, the same as the mainframe (IBM) that ran the central office in my campus.

    Now you can easily get a flash drive that goes to 128 GB, a HD that goes to 3 TB, so what’s coming next week?

  13. Greg

    Even more interesting would be to know it’s data transfer rates, seek times, track-to-track etc.


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