All of our computers, big and small, have hard drives of some sort, and most of us know that it’s the hardware that stores our software, music, videos, and even systems our operator.

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Also, however, there are probably at least a few things you don’t know about this popular computing device:

  1. The first 350 disk-based hard drives not only appeared on store shelves but were also part of IBM’s complete computer system, released in September 1956… Yes, in 1956!
  2. IBM started shipping this novel device to other companies in 1958, but they probably didn’t just stick it by mail – the world’s first hard drive was the size of an industrial refrigerator and weighed more than a ton.
  3. Shipping those things is probably the last thing on any buyer’s mind. However, consider the fact that in 1961 these hard drives were rented out for over $1,000 per month. If that sounds extreme, you can always buy it for less than $34,000.
  4. Today, an average hard drive like Seagate’s 8GB model on Amazon sells for over $ 200, which is 300 million times cheaper than the first IBM drive.
  5. If a customer in 1960 wanted a lot of storage, it would have cost $ 77.2 billion, slightly higher than the entire UK GDP that year!
  6. The expensive, giant IBM of a hard drive totaling less than 4 MB is about the size of an average quality single track like you get from iTunes or Amazon.
  7. Today’s hard drives can store a little more. By the end of 2015, Samsung held the record for the most massive hard drive, the 16 TB PM1633a SSD, but the 8 TB drive was more common.
  8. So just 60 years after IBM’s 3.75 MB hard drive was the best, you can store it on an 8 TB hard drive more than 2 million times and, as we have seen, for a fraction of the cost.
  9. The larger hard drives not only allowed us to store more things than we used to be, but they also allowed new industries that could not exist without these advances in storage technology.
  10. Less expensive, but large hard drives allow companies like Backblaze to offer a backup of your data onto their servers instead of backing up your disks. At the end of 2015, they used 50,228 hard drives to do that.
  11. Consider Netflix, which, according to a 2013 report, needs 3.14 PB (about 3.3 million GB) of hard drive space to store all those movies!
  12. Think Netflix’s demand is excellent? Facebook stored nearly 300 PB of data on hard drives in mid-2014. There is no doubt that today’s numbers are much larger.
  13. Not only has the storage capacity increased, but the size has also decreased at the same time so dramatically. Today, a single MB takes up about 11 billion times less physical space than one MB did in the late 50s.
  14. Look at the other way: it’s a 256 GB smartphone in your pocket that equates to 54 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of 1958 hard drives.
  15. In many ways, old IBM hard drives are no different from modern hard drives: both have spinning drives and heads attached to an arm that reads and writes data.
  16. These spinning drives are fast, usually spinning 5,400 or 7,200 times per minute, depending on the hard drive.
  17. All moving parts generate heat and eventually start to fail, often out loud. The soft noise your computer makes is probably the air circulation fans but others, the occasional ones, are usually your hard drive.
  18. Things that will eventually move – we know it. For that reason, and several other reasons, solid-state drives, with no moving parts (nearly a giant flash drive), are slowly replacing traditional hard drives.
  19. Unfortunately, neither traditional hard drive nor SSD can continue to shrink forever. Try to store a piece of data in a small and very physical space of how the hard drives work. Seriously – it’s called superparamagnetic.
  20. All of that means we will need to save data in different ways in the future. Many sci-fi audio technologies are being developed right now, like 3D storage, holographic storage, DNA storage, and more.
  21. Speaking about science fiction, Data, the android character in Star Trek, said in one episode that his brain contained 88 PB. That is much less than Facebook. It seems that I’m not exactly sure how to do it.