Shipped in September 1956, the first 5MB hard disk unit weighed over a ton and was used by the IBM 305 RAMAC, which was the first commercial computer to have a moving-head hard disk. The drive occupied 16 square feet and used fifty 24-inch platters read by two independently moving arms that had an average access time of 600ms.
At the time, 5MB of storage provided the ability to keep five million characters of accounting data (64,000 punch cards) and unlike tape storage which needed to be read from start to finish to find data, the RAMAC’s drive could access the same information randomly.
Production ended in 1961 as the RAMAC computer became obsolete the following year upon the arrival of IBM’s 1405 Disk Storage Unit for the IBM 1401.
By 1981, Apple introduced its first hard drive known as the “ProFile” which first offered 5MB of storage for $3,499 and it was small enough to sit on top of the Apple II, III and Lisa computers.
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