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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives ]

A Brief History of the Hard Disk Drive

Hard disks are one of the most important and also one of the most interesting components within the PC. They have a long and interesting history dating back to the early 1950s. Perhaps one reason that I find them so fascinating is how well engineers over the last few decades have done at improving them in every respect: reliability, capacity, speed, power usage, and more.

This excellent chart shows the evolution of IBM hard disks over the past 15 years. Several
different form factors are illustrated, showing the progress that they have made over the
years in terms of capacity, along with projections for the future. 250 GB hard disks in
laptops in five years? Based on past history, there's a good chance that it will in fact happen!
Note that the scale on the left is logarithmic, not linear, and PC hard disks have one actuator.

Image IBM Corporation
Image used with permission.

This section takes you on a brief "guided tour" of the history of hard disk drives, to help you understand more about how they were developed and what the key technological improvements were that enabled the modern disk drive that we all rely on today.

Next: Life Without Hard Disk Drives

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