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editing staff THOCP



In this chapter of the History of Computing Project storage has a relation to store information that can be retrieved, reproduced or processed: data. The following will take you through the developments of data storage. And describe the technology as well as a timeline illustrating the highlights, record setting achievements, and mile stone developments, for example the invention of the floppy disk.

During the process of the creation of this chapter, which is a growth document a graph will be created to illustrate the developments in both permanent as temporary or volatile memory (RAM) in any form. Also a graph will be developed on prices per megabyte in RAM or external storage (e.g. disks, tapes etc.)
Ongoing and past developments with respect to technology and applications will be illustrated and explained here too or there will be references to sites like wikipedia.
In the timeline a chronological description will be given in an unordered format. Items of specific interest will be hyperlinked to separate pages.
In the tree of recording are mentioned the categories determined purely on arbitrarily grounds and logic. These will be revised as information or knowledge becomes available. The items below will be discussed in depth and illustrated during the development of this chapter.


A tree of recording

In the traditional meaning the history of storage starts with the event of a written record. Something scratched on a bone or written down on a piece of clay tablet or carved in a rock. Oral history is, though valuable, not regarded as storage.

oral, written and printed memory

stories from parent to child, priest to novice

bones, stones, quipa, tally sticks, papyrus, parchment, paper, slates, reusable "paper"

mechanical volatile memory

wood, textile, paper, wax rolls, punch cards and punch tapes

magneto acoustic and other temporary media

mercury delay lines, piezo electrical delay line, cathode ray tube williams tube

magnetic media

wire, core memory, drum, card, tape, disk, OM disk

Floppy disk formats

Floppy disk format Year introduced Storage capacity
(binary kilobytes if not stated)
8-inch (read-only) 1969 80
8-inch 1972 187.5 1.5 Mbit
8-inch 1973 256 256 KB
8-inch DD 1976 500 0.5 MB
5¼-inch 1976 223
8-inch double sided 1977 1200 1.2 MB
5¼-inch DD 1978 360 360 KB
HP single sided
1982 280 264 KB
3-inch 1982? 360?
3½-inch (DD at release) 1984 720 720 KB
5¼-inch QD 1984 1200 1.2 MB
3-inch DD 1984? 720?
Mitsumi Quick Disk
1985 128 to 256
2-inch 1985? 720?
5¼-inch Perpendicular 1986? 100 MiB
3½-inch HD 1987 1440 1.44 MB
3½-inch ED 1991 2880 2.88 MB
3½-inch LS-120 1996 120.375 MiB 120 MB
3½-inch LS-240 1997 240.75 MiB 240 MB
3½-inch HiFD 1998/99 150/200 MiB? 150/200 MB
Acronyms:  DD = Double Density; QD = Quad Density; HD = High Density ED = Extended Density; LS = Laser Servo; HiFD = High capacity Floppy Disk
Dates and capacities marked ? are of unclear origin and need source information; other listed capacities refer to:
  • For 8-inch: standard IBM formats as used by the System/370 mainframes and newer systems
  • For 5¼- and 3½-inch: standard PC formats, capacities quoted are the total size of all sectors on the disk and include space used for the bootsector and filesystem

Other formats may get more or less capacity from the same drives and disks.

table courtesy wikipedia


optical media

optic data disc, CD, DVD, light capturing, holographic, blue ray DVD, OM disks

electronic silicon based media


nanotechnology and sub micron data storage

carbon bucky balls & tubes, DNA/RNA, amorphous memory, crystalline memory






Development of the Laservision video disc by Philips, this technology uses, as the name indicates low power red laser.


Telefunken introduces a videodisc player, this one works with a needle.


Applications are developed for the LaserVision videodisc of Philips. Sony uses the same technology.


RCA/Hitachi introduces the CED system, videodisc are read via a needle mechanism.

1980 Philips and Sony propose a standard for the Compact Disc (CD).


1982 Compact Disc Technology is introduced to Europe and Japan.


Compact Disc Technology is introduced to the United States.

Second Generation and Car CD players are introduced.


Third Generation CD players released.



Reintroduction of improved Laservision video discs. The records are gold colored and have reached CD quality.

CD-Recordable disc and recorder technology introduced.


The VCD standard is introduced which uses MPEG stream This standard enjoyed a short popularity and is still used in Asia as alternative for DVD.


CD-ReWritable disc and recorder technology introduced.


Introduction DVD in the USA


Introduction DVD in Europe


Hitachi brings out a 400 Gb hard disk


Manufacturers like Hitachi are on the front lines to develop ever smaller hard disks. At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Hitachi shows a hard disk of less than one inch (2,54 centimeter) in diameter with a capacity of 8 to 10 gigabytes. The disk got the name Mickey and will be available mid 2005.

In the 3.5 inch segment Hitachi is developing a 500 Gb hard disk available first quarter this year. The disk will be targeted for use in digital video recorders and will accommodate approximately 200 hours of digital video.







Go Back Last Updated on 1 April, 2007 For suggestions please mail the editors 

Footnotes & References