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The Hard Drive Turns 50 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-it-still-feels-10 dept.
JHU writes "When the hard drive was first introduced on September 13, 1956, it required a humongous housing and 50 24-inch platters to store 1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives. Back then, the small team at IBM's San Jose-based lab was seeking a way to replace tape with a storage mechanism that allowed for more-efficient random access to data. The question was, how to bring random-access storage to business computing?"
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The Hard Drive Turns 50

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @10:59PM (#16101263)
    Has anyone run HD Tach on that original IBM hard drive?
  • I seem to recall reading this story TWICE before this one!

    I've found one of them: [url:http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=0 6/07/30/2124225], but I KNOW there was a second one.
  • by red_crayon (202742) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:01PM (#16101268)
    I used a hard drive when they were the size of a suitcase.

    That's nothing. I used a hard drive when they were the size of a VW and held only 64 bytes. That's bytes not kb.
    • by eliot1785 (987810) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:10PM (#16101304)
      I used hard drives back when they were only 10 bits and the size of two human hands. You had to signal to the computer which bits you wanted to be on and which you wanted to be off, by moving your fingers up and down. It was pretty tough.

      (128 and 4 were also illegal values, a further limitation of this system)
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by simcop2387 (703011)
        don't even think of 132, that'd get you fired on the spot!
      • 992 0 992 0 992 0

        4 132 128 0
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dwedit (232252)
        I'm pretty sure youo could easily go up to 20 bits, but the cops might arrest you if you try 21.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        Considering you have enough hard drive space to store multiplication problems up to 31x31 by dividing it into two five-bit registries, I think the CPU was just as much the problem. Seems it uses some internal organization wierder than the PDP-11.
      • It was worse in England. 6 was also illegal.

        Or is it 12? (Have I got it round the right way?)

        Whatever, it was illegal and thousands of cameras would watching for it - after all it was England
      • by tedgyz (515156) *
        Oh yeah! Well you haven't lived unless you have installed an OS from paper tape. Seriously - we used to load RSTS/E on a PDP11 using paper tape. Pbbbbbbtttt!!!

        For fun, we wrote a program to convert text to paper tape "banners", like a giant label machine. :-)
    • Phooie, back in my day, I had a hard drive the size of an Arby's that would hold only zero. That's right, half a bit. We had another one that only held one, so we could store a whole bit that way. Of course, that was enough for our software back then and we liked it that way. Kids these days are all spoiled with their hi-fallutin windows, and GUIs and multi-bit ASCII.
      • ObPedant: a zero is still a bit, not half a bit. It's just a bit that can only ever be off. ;)

        Quite seriously, though... I remember working out that with some of these drives - presuming you could 'see' magnetic charge - /would/ have visible bits. Very cool, in a dorky way - I can imagine looking at something with 'xray specs' and being able to see a pattern.

        • "bit" is short for BINARY digit. So a "bit" that can only be off would presumably be a unary digit - or a "uit".
      • Phooie, back in my day, I had a hard drive the size of an Arby's that would hold only zero

        Zero? You had zeros? We had to use the letter "oh"...

    • by DeathElk (883654)
      Yeah, well my hard drive was a cave. Yes, a cave. I needed fire to "read" the data, and an array of different coloured rocks to write data. I had a magnificent collection of animal bitmaps (back then they were called "drawings") kept in a different partition to my wonderful collection of cave pr0n. Portability was a problem though...
    • by evilviper (135110)
      That's nothing. I used a hard drive when they were the size of a VW and held only 64 bytes. That's bytes not kb.

      Back in my day, all our data was stored on an 8x8 grid of bits you had to read and toggle by hand. That's 64-bits of storage, and we liked it that way! [swipnet.se]

      Kids these days, with your teletypes, and multi-kilobyte video games.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've got a few in my flying car.
  • I predict (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy AT tpno-co DOT org> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:07PM (#16101292) Homepage
    At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ). To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter. To the host system, it would appear as a single drive of 160gb ( for example ), but it would actually be two platters of 160gb, with a bit for bit copy being maintained on the fly by the drive itself.

    Access would be through a standard API.

    Extending this further, we could add even more intelligence to the drives, and with the sacrifice of more storage space, would could have the drive taking care of shadow copies ( this operating under the assumption that the host system knows how to handle the drive ).

    This is the direction I predict for future harddrives; At some point we will come to a place where we don't really need the extra capacity. At that point the harddrive manufactures will begin to add more intelligence to the drives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by x2A (858210)
      We're already on the way with SMART, with many (most?) drives having reserved sectors that get mapped over bad sectors when they crop up. This won't be able to recover lost data, but a drive that verifies writes could re-write a sector that didn't make it to disc on first attempt.

      • by cowbutt (21077)
        with many (most?) drives having reserved sectors

        I'm 99.99% sure that ALL modern PATA, SATA and SCSI drives have reserved blocks.

    • Re:I predict (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:20PM (#16101352) Homepage Journal
      [automatic internal redundancy]

      The problem I see with this is that (in my experience) there are several single points of failure in a hard drive, and if one of them goes the entire drive is toast. Specifically, the heads, the motor, and the controller board. I've had all three die on different occasions, and for all three the entire drive is dead. If the motor or controller board fails, then your data is fine, but you'll need to spend up to $1,000 (or more) to get the data off the drive. If the heads fail (mechanically or physically) there is a good chance that all the platters can be damaged so you're totally screwed.

      In any case, aside from tons of bad sectors forming on the drive (in which case the entire drive is probably on it's way out) I don't see how an internal mirror can help much. You can't recover the data without going through an expensive data recovery service, so you may as well just buy a second physical drive, something that anyone can swap out and replace.
      • I must agree with this, when I first read the grand-parent I was thinking, whats the point of a raid if it's all on the same drive? I mean technically I could do that right now with linux, just make 2 partitions of equal size and software raid across them. Pretty pointless....now maybe if it had 2 separate little mini-drives inside of one that might technically count....not entirely unfeasible if platter density increased enough, but still this seems a little silly to me...
      • by Firehed (942385)
        Actually, not so with the controller board. If you buy a drive of the exact same model (hopefully of the same batch - best yet, buy an extra initially and have a spare), you can remove the controller board from a working drive and replace it onto the drive with the bad board. There's almost never actual solder points connecting the board to the drive itself, but rather an array of pins and sockets that should separate with relative ease. Assuming that the board frying didn't damage anything internally (g
        • I had a client suggest this on a $4000 drive a few years back. Their data was more improtant than $8000 (cost of two (2) drives to experiment with)

          Drives keep track of bad sectors and remapped bad sectors. This might not be kept on the hard drive - IE - it could be kept on the controller board in ECC memory. I was never able to find out.

          Next - the positioning might be via servo information on the platters themselves and if so then the swapped controller should be fine. But if the manufacturer used some
      • by swelke (252267)
        You make a good point. I'd speculate that the HD makers would focus on improving the storage of the really small drives (like the one in the iPod mini, etc.) and other statistics so that it's reasonable to have a RAID array of them in a normal computer. If they could get the storage on the really small HD's up to 100Gb, for example, and make a RAID-5 equivalent (of 3 to 10 drives, however many fit) all in a small package the size of current desktop HD's, that should make for very durable storage. Each dr
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dogmatixpsych (786818)
      Interesting point.

      Ok fellow geeks. What are everyones' predictions about what computer storage will be like in 50 years? Include capacity, medium, and whatever else you want.

      My guess is with organic/biological storage with essentially unlimited capacity - if you need more just grow more.
      • Great, just what we need. Storage that's vulnerable to millions upon billions of strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Yes, I see that one going down real well in the history books. You can't write A/V software for that, pal. You'll need a REAL DOCTOR to fix your computer, and then it's not even guaranteed that the data you'd have would be there, it being potentially damaged by biological toxins.

        Sorry, but even Star Trek: Voyager addressed this idea (since the Voyager used neurological bio-packs for d
    • by plgs (447731)
      At some point we will come to a place where we don't really need the extra capacity

      You must be new here...

      Seriously though, it's a great idea which economics will kill stone dead, because consumers will not pay twice as much for the same capacity with marginally increased reliability. (I doubt whether most consumers even consider comparative MTBFs when buying drives, and manufacturers only care that the drive will survive the system's warranty period).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter.

      Why would that be at all useful?

      On my mental list of potential failure points, damage to the platter doesn't rank very high.

      Other than the occassional bad sector, if you're going to get data corruption (or physical damage), your data is going to get FUBARed on both platters.

      I agree with your conclusion about more intelligence, just not the notion that a one-drive RAID-1 would make any sens

      • I'm waiting for them to ditch the entire arm/platter concept. Data storage should be completely solid state. I've seen computers cold boot faster than some drives take to spin up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Agripa (139780)
        Personally, I'm waiting for them to cram 2 opposing sets of read/write arms (or even just a second set for reading) so that they can effectively halve the latency and seek times without having to go faster than the existing 15k screamers.

        For a short time Seagate made a series of drives with dual head assemblies for transactional processing but they were not cost effective. I do not remember how the interfacing worked.
        • by Barsoom (1002409)
          Seagate also made a couple of drives with 2 heads per platter surface and only 1 actuater. The head assembly was known as a C-Blk instead of an E-blk. The model number was ST-425(20 MB). Seagate also produced a half height version called the ST-212(10 MB) with 1 platter and 4 heads and the ST-206(5 MB)which only used 1 surface and 2 heads.
          • by Agripa (139780)
            Seagate also made a couple of drives with 2 heads per platter surface and only 1 actuater. The head assembly was known as a C-Blk instead of an E-blk. The model number was ST-425(20 MB). Seagate also produced a half height version called the ST-212(10 MB) with 1 platter and 4 heads and the ST-206(5 MB)which only used 1 surface and 2 heads.

            I was not able to find anything on the net about those but given the model numbers they would have been using stepper motors instead of voice coils so the track density wo
      • IBM had dual heads on some of their drives. This was done years ago.

        I expect we'll see an array of r/w heads instead. If we read and write 8 bits at a time then the drive looks like it spins about 8x faster. The thing is the rotational delay is the same but you read or write 8x the data per rotation.

        • Or simply allowing you to read data off of all N platters at the same time (which is probably closer to being possible) with the current design. The downside is that it would probably limit the drive structure (meaning you could have 1 head, 2 heads, 4 heads or 8 heads).

          And it still wouldn't improve seek latency as much as a 2nd set of heads or simply RAID'ing together more spindles. Or increasing those RPMs again while using an even smaller diameter disk.

        • by rholliday (754515)
          I'm told that iSeries AS/400s still use dual head HDDs. They access the data very quickly but wear out faster, as would be expected.
    • by drsmithy (35869)
      At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ). To that end, I predict harddrive companies effectively setting up a raid 1 array on a single drive; Probably by platter. To the host system, it would appear as a single drive of 160gb ( for example ), but it would actually be two platters of 160gb, with a bit for bit copy being maintained on the fly by the drive itself.

      That's not going to help you if the motors and/or onboard circuitry dies. Which i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I know it's not happening this year or next year, but I would expect that the real solution is going to be moving away from hard discs for storing important data.

      It may be a decade before most people switch to some form of non volatile memory for new purchases, but I would expect it to be reliable enough, and hopefully by then issues of Windows writing too often to drive will be fixed, as well as hopefully eliminating the need for a swap file.

      This is all hypothetical. It's hard to know for sure when hard d
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by thegnu (557446)
        It may be a decade before most people switch to some form of non volatile memory for new purchases, but I would expect it to be reliable enough

        Yes, but still not impervious to Rhinoceros attacks, which are very very common where I'm from (Florida). And what about when the glaciers slide off Greenland all at once and cause the 300ft tsunami all around the world, then where will your data be? Underwater, that's where.

        The greenland thing is actually possibly going to happen, as the water pools on top of the
        • by Khyber (864651)
          The ONLY way such a tsunami would happen would be for at least half of our glacial ice cap to suddenly sheer off and smack into the water from a great height. Otherwise, it'll just sludge, raise some waves around Greenland and wipe out it's coastal areas (including some of the coast of Canada) and when it melts our sea levels dropa bit (as we all know if you observe ice in a glass of water, once it melts you're actually left with a lower level of water in the glass.) You don't need to move inland, at least
    • by sam0737 (648914)

      At some point in the future, capacity will take a back seat to recoverability ( for the average consumer ).

      Hey! The harddrive makers are already doing this. Those ECC blocks are inserted along the data block, without them your harddisk would lose data much faster.

      Recovery by ECC is auto, is not reported to SMART, and is consider normal. Afterall, we can't expect every magnet information to be kept forever perfectly in shape for such a density, the makers understand this and is already trading quite a port

    • Capacity is the main selling point of hard drives. When capacity stops meaning as much, people will move to things like flash for the lower power consumption.

      My prediction would be that in 10-15 years, consumer machines don't have hard drives at all as solid-state memory achieves terabyte sizes and the number of rewrites ceases to be an issue.
    • by Eivind (15695)
      raid-1 on two platters make no sense.

      My guess would be that failure of physical platters or read-heads account for perhaps 10% of all hard-disc crashes.

      Having two platters with the same data will do nothing for you when the drive-electronics die. When the motor driving the spindle has a problem, when the stepper is no longer able to align the read-heads properly.

    • by Khyber (864651)
      That's what SMART is for, as previously mentioned, and I think there will always be a need for capacity over recoverability. If this weren't the case, we'd still be stuck using CD-ROMs and floppy discs. As information grows in size, you will need the storage capacity, whether in RAM or on your hard drive, to use it or access it. Don't forget we're still in the age of pagefiles and swap partitions.
  • by Brickwall (985910) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:08PM (#16101298)
    While a student at the University of Toronto in the late 1970's, my fraternity (mostly engineers) invited a professor for a dinner. We retired to the library afterwards with a case of beer, and I ventured the comment "Won't it be great when you can get a desktop computer with 1 Mb of RAM, and a 10 Mb hard drive?".

    The prof thought this was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. He listed the following "fundamental physics" reasons why these devices would be impossible:

    1. You could never make the magnetic domains small enough to get that density

    2. Even if you could, you could never make stepper motors precise enough to read the data.

    3. Even if you could, you could never make read/write heads sensitive enough to read such small domains.

    4. Even if you could, you could never make a disk which rotated stably enough to prevent head crashes.

    5. As for the RAM, he said we could never make chip densities high enough to get 1 MB on a desktop.

    6. Even if you could, the heat generated by those RAM chips would require a small refrigerator.

    7. And finally, even if you could make the transistors small enough, you would get so many tunneling errors that the RAM would be completely unreliable.

    I wonder if he's seen an Ipod Nano yet...

    • by merreborn (853723) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:30AM (#16101603) Journal
      A friend's grandfather actually worked at the San Jose IBM lab back in the days when they were working on early drives -- I think he just turned 88 this month.

      At any rate, he talked my ear off for an hour once, talking about how they'd spent a bunch of time trying to figure out the optimal height above the platter to float the head at. He said they used a jet of compressed air under the head to float it, not unlike an air hockey puck.

      Long story short, if they really were working on these things in this scale back in those days, I can't say I can blame your professor -- you might as well have been talking about flying cars and having an entire meal in a single pill. I mean, hell, drives these days hold millions of times more data than they did just a couple of decades ago. I don't think anything's ever miniaturized that fast.
      • by Agripa (139780)
        EE Times had an article several years ago (40th anniversary maybe?) detailing the history of hard drives with a nice description of a lab with Dixie cups containing iron oxide paint for spin coating the platters by hand.
      • by Khyber (864651)
        Actually, considering the timeframe you're talking about, Popular Science (or was it Popular Mechanics?) already had articles and "real" pictures of a car that could double as a plane. IIRC, it only required 60MPH to allow your car to take off into the air, though I don't recall what they used for propulsion after you left the ground.
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      He should be punished by forever using an Apple 1.
    • While your professor friend was being a fool Richard Feynman was writing "THere is plenty of room on the bottom". See if you can find his paper. He predicited densities much higher.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:16AM (#16102700) Homepage
      Alright, so he wasn't a visionary but I think you can point to most computer scientists in the 1940s-1970s and laugh
      "You didn't have a clue how far computers would go".

      Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 1980s and laugh "You didn't have a clue how far Internet would go".

      Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 1990s and laugh "You didn't have a clue how far wireless connections would go".

      Then you can point to most computer scientists in the 2000s and lau... oh wait, that's us. I'm not exactly sure what they'll be laughing about, put I'm pretty sure they will. It's really easy to mock technological predictions with 20-20 hindsight. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going for a trip in my flying car driven by cold fusion...
    • by HungWeiLo (250320)
      "Yeah, Doc. All the best stuff's made in Japan now."

      "Unbelievable!"
  • by sporkme (983186) * on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:11PM (#16101310) Homepage
    My father talks about his younger days with the US Air Force as a mid-level computer technology worker in Anchorage. He speaks of how dangerous magnetic storage was in the early days, with all that weight in a drum, spinning up to 1200 RPM. We still jokes about the emergency procedures in the event of a catastrophic mechanical failure of operating storage media. The USAF's official line was to take cover in a corner behind other heavy equipment at the first sign of trouble. Techs used to work under constant threat of going three rounds with bouncing betty. Now all we have to worry about are laptop batteries.

    See Drum Memory [wikipedia.org]

    • by Tablizer (95088)
      The wikipedia article says magnetic drum storage was invented in 1932! They didn't really have computers back then. What the &@*$! did they store on it? Porn?
      • by sporkme (983186) *
        Dad says, "The first automobile was patented in 1886. They weren't exactly running out for milk in it." The drum was used in proprietary systems and the massive disk arrays that the article addresses as being "first" were also implemented and threatening in similar ways.
      • by nikoliky (768458)
        If I recall, it was designed to store figures from the census. Weird, I know.
      • by jamesh (87723)
        What the &@*$! did they store on it? Porn?

        I think back in those days porn was stored on wetware, or paper :)
    • by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:24PM (#16101365) Homepage Journal
      A teacher of mine back in the 70's told us about a hard drive - the size of a large washing machine, early 60's - whose bearings froze up. All of that rotational energy was transfered to the case, which ripped loose and chased him around the room, bouncing off the walls.
  • Code name was Ethel (Score:3, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:11PM (#16101313)
    It's kind of a strange coincidence that the codename for the hard drive project was Ethel because the same day that these huge hunks of iron were debuted was the day that Hurrican Ethel formed in the Gulf of Mexico (it made landfall the next day in Mississippi).

    These days we're talking about capacities that can hold all the information of every hurricane evar on a single disk. What a ways we've come.
    • "These days we're talking about capacities that can hold ALL the information of every hurricane evar on a single disk. What a ways we've come."
      (emphasis mine)

      I'll be pedantic.

      You're not thinking big enough. ALL of the information would be the location of every molecule of air, etc at every point in time during the hurricane. For that, we would need a hard drive as massive as the hurricane for each point in time. I think we would quickly run out of mass in the universe if we stored ALL of the information.
  • Big bits (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NMBob (772954) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:37PM (#16101421)
    When I was in high school (1970's) our computer programming/math teacher had a hard drive disk platter that might have been from one of the these machines. I seem to recall that it was larger than 24" in diameter, but maybe I was just smaller. Anyway, the disk had some silver powder on it -- magnetic I'd guess -- and you could actually see the individual bits. They were pretty thin, but the tracks looked to be about 1/8" wide/tall.
    • Silver powder == dust. Possibly magnetic, though.
    • In college, I helped run a machine that used removable hard-drives we referred to as "pizza boxes" because they were about the size of a large pizza container. (And here 10 MB drives.)
  • by Easy2RememberNick (179395) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:49PM (#16101463)
    At 50 years old I bet it's more floppy drive than hard drive.
    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Nah, they've been storing all that viagra spam on it so it's still hard (though it should consult a doctor if it is for more than 4 hours)
  • by sokoban (142301) on Wednesday September 13, 2006 @11:58PM (#16101497) Homepage
    "1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives"

    Really now, that is almost completely uninformative since most people have no idea what the capacity is of today's largest 1 inch hard drive. I know that it is cool and all how much storage has shrunk, but I think just saying 8 megs (or whatever the storage capacity was) tells people more than saying a fraction of an obscure unit.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      "1/2400 as much data as can be fit on today's largest capacity 1-inch hard drives"

      Really now, that is almost completely uninformative since most people have no idea what the capacity is of today's largest 1 inch hard drive. I know that it is cool and all how much storage has shrunk, but I think just saying 8 megs (or whatever the storage capacity was) tells people more than saying a fraction of an obscure unit.

      Yeah might as well go for the "sidewalks to the moon" or "statue of liberty on is side" compa

      • by pe1chl (90186)
        And then of course there is the "it can hold 1 minute of MP3 music at 128kbps". 60*128/8 = 960kB. But just before it says it was 5MB.
  • how to bring random-access storage to business computing?

    Now, the question is how to best make use of the *non*-random-access storage that business computing has available? Most people think of hard disks as random access, but really they're not -- there's a huge performance penalty for random reads and writes. A disk that can do many tens of MB/s of sequential reads can only do maybe 200 4kB sector reads per second. That's a *huge* difference. So much so, that it's almost free to just read a bunch o

    • by TigerNut (718742)
      Same thing with cache operation as well as the latest double-data-rate RAM. Cache is transfered a block at a time, to reduce overall latency, and they do it because most of the time you read and/or write multiple data elements within a small contiguous memory area, then move on. Even with small caches that are used in embedded CPUs you end up with cache hit rates that exceed 90 percent for most common applications.
      • by evanbd (210358)
        Very true. The difference is that with, say, a database reading from a disk, it might care about 200 bytes from that 4K sector. The disk could return something on the order of 128K or more with only a very minor performance hit in terms of IO operations/s. And unlike RAM, the odds of using those bytes, while increased, aren't that great in many apps. It's a tough problem whether in RAM or disks.
  • I remember working with fixed hard drives (i.e. non-removable) that were 500 MB, and larger than washing machines.

    I remember having colleagues who broke their feet after removable hard drives fell on them (those were only 200 MB, but HUGE ...

    The same place I worked at had XT like PCs with external hard drives in shoe box sized housing.

    Those were from the mid-80s by the way ...
  • by kyjl (965702) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:52AM (#16101675)
    September 14th, 1956: The first time porn is loaded onto a Hard Drive
  • How fitting... one of mine died today. We barely knew ye.
  • ...my hard drive turns 7200!
  • . . . to my birthday! I'll be 40 tomorrow. (Sep15)
    If there was one piece of hardware I'd like for my birthday present, it'd be 2GB of RAM for my laptop. There's something I'm older than: DRAM ICs.
  • I can just re-post my opinion from last time it was posted, C&P is so much easier than thinking.
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=192615&cid=158 13665 [slashdot.org]

    Oh hard drives how you curse me.

    I love these things and I hate them, as an enthusiast I've always been a big fan of the high performance hard disk. I've done my best to learn about them, I've theorised about ways of speeding them up, I've discussed the technology with friends for hours at a time in a geek like fasion.

    As much as I love a fast hard dis
  • Hard disk.
    All drives are "hard"
    A floppy disk drive (FDD) drives a disk that's flexible, though the drive is hard.
    A hard disk drive (HDD) drives a disk that's hard.

    I know, I know, there are no floppy drives anymore, but some of us still remember.
    The term "hard drive" didn't exist before the 90's when everybody got a PC for home & work.

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