It Used to Cost How Much?! A Look at How Data Storage has Changed Over the Years
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It Used to Cost How Much?! A Look at How Data Storage has Changed Over the Years

Cloud storage is the latest and most advanced tech for backup and storage solutions. Taking up zero physical space for the user and offering terabytes of space, data storage has never been more efficient or fool-proof. How did we get here? Let’s take a look at the history of external hard drives and how they’ve evolved!

1950s- IBM 350 Disk File 

The first ever external hard drive was introduced in 1956 by IBM to compliment its 305 RAMAC Computing System. It’s storage capacity? 3.75 MB. To put that into perspective, the average size of a single photo taken with an iPhone 11 is about 6MB. What the 350 Disk File seemingly lacked in storage space, it made up in physical space. The behemoth cabinet that stored the harddrive measured in at 152 cm (60 inches) long, 172 cm (68 inches) high and 24 inches (29 inches) wide, weighed about a ton and had to be moved around on a forklift. But people didn’t need to worry about where to store the cabinet in their house since the IBM 350 Disk File was only available commercially, which was probably a good thing since leasing the computing system and accompanying harddrive cost a whopping $3200 USD/month! [/vc_column_text]

For decades, computing and storage innovation was largely based around updating already existing systems. But after three decades, major changes came to computing and storage. 

1980s- The Floppy Disk is Debuted

In 1980, IBM released another groundbreaking drive – the first external drive able to store up to one gigabyte of data. Weighing in at 1,000lbs and equal to the size of a refrigerator, the drive cost over $80,000 USD. Still a far cry from the space and price-point of the storage we use today, the drive was heralded as innovative for its time. The 80s also saw the introduction of the personal computer and with them came portable tape and disk drives – including the most recognizable storage device of all time – the floppy disk. Wildly popular and still commonly used as the “save” icon for many programs, on average the floppy disk only stored a measly 1.44MB, enough room for just a few text documents.

1990s- Hello, USB! 

Through the 90s, many more portable disk drives came into play such as compact discs, each offering a little more storage space than the last. In 1998, however, another game-changer came onto the scene – the USB. The advent of the universal serial bus cleared the way for the flash drives and external hard drives so many of us use today. Storage capacity for external hard drives today vary greatly, with many consumer level products topping out at 2TB. Transferring files became quick and easy, but had still had limitations since many large storage capacity drives cannot only be formatted for use on a single operating system.

The 21st Century – Heading to the Cloud

Between 2005 and 2006, history was made in data storage as cloud services were released. While web-based storage had been around for some time, it was in the early 2000s that the computing industry saw the idea of cloud storage take off. Now, large swaths of data could be stored without devices or limitations, and seamlessly shared among different devices and operating systems without hardware. Not only did cloud storage quickly become the most convenient way to store and transfer data, it’s also easily the cheapest. For instance, a lifetime Polarbackup 1TB storage plan costs just $39.99. That’s 999,996 MB more storage than the IBM 350 Disk File in 1953, and less than one percent of it’s monthly price. Not to mention, cheaper than the average price of a 1TB hard drive today.

Data storage solutions have improved immensely since they were first introduced in the 1950s. And cloud storage is undoubtedly the cheapest, greenest, easiest, and most convenient data storage solution to ever be on the market. Although developers have made huge strides in storage technology over the years, it’s hard to see how they’ll outdo the cloud services on the market today.