History of Hard Drives

IBM is credited with creating the hard drive industry. It manufactured the first magnetic hard drives in 1956 for its line of business accounting computers. These first hard drives had a storage capacity of 5 MB which at the time really was a large amount of data. Today, a “1TB internal hard drive is considered to be able to store a large amount of data. In 1980, IBM sold the first 1 GB drive. It was a beast of a machine weighing in at 550 pounds and was the size of most household refrigerators. In addition to being big and heavy, it also costs more than $40,000.

Not only did the 1980s herald the age of gigabyte hard drives, it was also the decade where it became clear that personal computers were going to be the wave of the future. Computers were starting to arrive in a large number of households and demand for smaller, less expensive drives suddenly increased. A number of new hard drive manufacturers formed to meet this new demand. Companies like Seagate and Maxtor released their first products in the early 80s.

Hard drive storage capacities started to take off once the industry had a healthy number of competitors. In 1980, Seagate sold its first hard drive which was a 5 MB drive that fit in a 5.25 inch form factor. A 10 MB version of the same drive went into the first IBM personal computers to contain internal hard drives. As a result, Seagate enjoyed considerable growth by supplying the hard drives for IBM’s PCs. Maxtor sold its first hard drive in 1983 20 years before it would be purchased by Seagate. Maxtor’s first products were innovative because they were the first drives where the spindle motor was not mounted externally to the platters.

In 1988, Prairie Tek introduced the 2.5 inch hard drive form factor. This would become the almost exclusive form factor for modern laptops. Before serial ATA came on the market, the IDE laptop hard drive category saw similar growth in drive capacity as the desktop category. 640 GB laptop drives can be readily purchased from a number of electronics retailers.

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