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Happy 50th birthday disk drive

Your disk drive is a pretty nifty application of magnetism.

This month is the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of the first disk drive, IBM's RAMAC.

IBM didn't actually invent the idea of storing data with magnetic material on metal disks. That honor goes to an engineer called Jacob Rabinow, who was working for the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory.

RAMAC was originally meant to have drums rather than disks. But the final design featured 50 metal platters, spinning at 1,200 RPM with a recording density of about 100 bits per inch.

That's about 5MB.

RAMAC was the size of a piano. But it worked along exactly the same principles as the disk drive you can see whizzing away with the lid off in this video.

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