Can you believe it? 50 years ago, some big brained people at IBM developed the first hard drive. The hard drive is truly one of those things that revolutionized computers, enabling quick and easy access to data as opposed to much slower tape access.
From the Yahoo! article:
The integrated RAMAC was about two refrigerators in width and not quite as tall, and it literally weighed a ton. Its 50 24-inch platters were in a stack inside the unit, in an assembly that spun at 1200 revolutions per minute. The unit used two magnetic recording heads. The RAMAC could hold 5MB--about the storage that today is needed for one 5-minute MP3 encoded at 128 kilobits per second.
I remember my first encounter with a hard drive. It was a heavy metal box capable of storing 10 MB of data and fit into an IBM XT. Now there are hard drives with 750 GB capacities in a 3.5" form factor and no signs of capacity increases slowing down in the near future. This week we brought 20 TB of hard drive storage online and are in the process of populating it with stuff from the existing 5 TB RAID and stuff off the tape archive. It should be enough to hold about a year's worth of patient images online although we've projected that in a few years we'll need about 50 TB to hold the same amount of data online. Amazing isn't it. Makes me think of that saying "Data will always expand to fill your available storage".