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Delivered in September 1956, the first 5 MB hard disk weighed over a ton (2,000 pounds) and was used in the IBM 305 RAMAC, which was the first commercial computer with a moving head hard disk. The drive occupied 16 square feet and used fifty 24-inch plates read by two independently moving arms, which had an average access time of 600 ms.
Also known as the IBM 350 disk drive, the disk was about the size of two refrigerators and was mounted on a metal frame attached to the floor. A special air conditioning system was required to keep the temperature and humidity at the right level to protect the fragile magnetic disks. Due to its size and weight, it was typically only used in large data centers and mainframe computer rooms.
At the time, 5 MB of storage provided the ability to store five million characters of credentials (64,000 punched cards or the equivalent of approximately 2.5 million pages of printed text) and unlike tape storage, which had to be read end-to-end to find the data. , the RAMAC drive could access the same information randomly. This was a significant improvement over earlier forms of storage and paved the way for the development of larger, more reliable hard drives in later years.
Production ended in 1961 as the RAMAC computer became obsolete the following year after the introduction of the IBM 1405 Disk Storage Unit for the IBM 1401. By 1981, Apple introduced its first hard drive, known as the “ProFile”, which first offered 5 MB of memory for $3,499. and was small enough to sit on the Apple II, III, and Lisa computers.