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Data Storage Landmarks That Shaped Today's World

Data storage has come a long way over the decades. As has the way that data is read, written and transferred. Let’s take a look at some of the big data storage landmarks that influenced innovation and shaped where we are today.

Punch cards: The humble punch card was in use since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and was originally used to control looms. They were then adapted for computer use and could simply input and output data. A row on a punch card represented a character, which was then stamped to signify selection, and each card could take around 80 characters.

Magnetic tape: The UNIVAC I was the first general purpose electronic digital computer for business use that the United States produced. Magnetic tape helped this become a reality in the 1950s, as it was the main input and output device for the system. Tape would go on to feed compact cassettes and have lots of applications. In fact, tape is still used by some to this day.

Floppy disk: The invention of the floppy disk was one of the biggest drives for the growth in the personal computer industry. The technology was developed by IBM in the 1970s and stuck around for over twenty years. They reduced in size and increased in capacity over the years. It’s so synonymous with data that lots of software uses a floppy disk icon to represent saving – even though the younger generation may never have seen a real one.

Fibre channel: Fibre channels are a high-speed data transfer protocol, often used to connect computer data storage to servers, and offers lossless delivery of raw block data. It’s used in storage area networks and commercial data centres and was the foundation for things to come.

SSD: Unlike the hard disk drive, a solid-state drive (SSD) has no moving parts. It offers greater storage capacity, faster performance, and energy efficiency. By the mid-2000s, technology companies were able to bring SSDs to consumer markets. Portable devices like laptops use SSDs to great benefits. They’re commonplace now and continue to drop in price.

Cloud storage: All of the aforementioned data storage landmarks are for local storage. That is, storage which is physically in front of you. Cloud storage is different. While it obviously has a physical presence somewhere, that could be halfway across the world. It allows people to access their data wherever they are, from any device. Compuserve developed an early version back in the 1980s, but it really hit markets properly with providers like Dropbox and Box offering up cloud storage for the consumer.

The future: Who knows where data storage will go next? Huge volumes of research and testing is being undertaken globally to find the next, best solution. Even things like storing data within DNA and quartz are being investigated. Whatever it ends up being, you can bet it will be compact, quick, and offer vast amounts of storage space. Considering the incredible volumes of data now being created in our Internet of Things, we need an innovation soon.


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