INDUSTRY AND THE PROFESSION
With today's hard drives providing up to 2 TB in a single compact inexpensive unit, it's easy to forget
just how far the technology has come. As it happens, it
was 1953 when the first magnetic-core memory was
installed on the Whirlwind computer in a joint project
between MIT and the US Navy. The project entailed a
real time interactive simulator and stabilizer analyzer for
Navy flight training. The core consisted mostly of a wire
mesh and a bunch of ferrite rings, but it allowed binary
information to be recorded and randomly retrieved
magnetically, which was a pretty novel idea at the time.
This paved the way for the IBM 305 Random Access
Memory Accounting Machine (RAMAC), which in 1956
became the first commercial computer that used a
moving-head hard drive. One drive stored 5 MB on 50
24 in platters and was about the size of two telephone
Photo courtesy of IBM.
■ This early memory device offered 8,192 words of
core memory and a speed of about 75,000 single
address instructions per second.
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