What is pictured here being loaded onto a plane?
It is a picture of the world’s first hard disk: the IBM 350 disk storage unit. Weighing in at over a ton, it is being loaded into a plane via forklift in 1956. It had 50 magnetic disks inside, giving it a total capacity of 5 MB. That’s right, megabytes. Created with real-time business accounting use in mind, it really was a step of massive importance in the evolution of computing. This is only too clear today, where we have gigabytes upon gigabytes of storage available in cheap, platter-less devices the size of our thumbs.
Funny enough, in many of our data recovery labs around the world, we have old disks and hard drives that dwarf current models as well. Our clean room benches (and now our archives) have seen storage technologies to large to lift, though not weighing 1 ton!
This photo is not new, it seems to pop up every few years on the internet as people take a moment to marvel at how far (and big) storage technology has come. With the recent IBM Watson supercomputer spectacle pitting machine against human opponents in a game of Jeopardy!, it seems fitting that this comes across our radar again.