how the physical storage for computers got smaller over time

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In 1956, 5MB is needed to be escorted through the plane and is actually big enough to fit a plane. Now, I could hold a 1GB in the palm of my hand. How did we become so high tech that we don’t even need our storage to be the size of a kid’s homemade castle box?

In: 13

Integrated circuits. Multilayer circuit boards. Transistors and extraordinarily tiny components.

Storing data works by storing two different states in a way that can be read.

In the past we were pretty bad at this, we used cards that either had a hole or didn’t have a hole in specific locations a machine could read. Each page could only hold a few bits of information.

Then we started storing it on magnetic tape or disks and reading that with a reader head. These tapes or disks essentially place the “holes” far closer together. The holes being an electrical charge. HDDs are basically just the results of a ton of improvements in this.

Before the tapes and disks we used magnetic core memory. These actually used ferrite toroid cores as memory. Each ring was like a little transformer which you saturated to store a 1 or 0. These types of devices maxed out at around 32 kilobits per cubic foot.

well, the components we use to store bits (1s and 0s that make up data) were very large and inefficient when they were first invented and used. Over time, technology improved and the components got much smaller, and new ways of storing bits were invented that were smaller.

For example, we used to use disk drives, which had a physical disk that stored bits, and a needle that could read the bits. But now lots of computers use solid-state drives, which store each bit in unmoving microscopic components. They’re smaller and faster than disk drives.

Each bit of data on a hard drive has to be stored in a physical medium. It started out using cards with large holes in that the computer work punch out to start data. These punch cards where also used by programmers to interact with the machine, as a bunch of the basic interface technologies we every day hadn’t been invented yet. A big improvement was the switch to magnetic such as cassette tapes. In those devices, data is stored in a slice of a magnetic medium with a read/write head being able to read and write data into the medium using magnetic fields. The primary restriction of these devices is the size of the size of the read/write head and how fast you can spin the device and still have the read/write head be able to function properly. Do so required both faster control software and smaller & more precise electronics to do the work, which are both primarily limited by the size of the transistors, the fundamental building block used to make computers. Prior to the invention of transistors, vacuum tubes were used to build computers and they were rough the size of light bulbs. Transistors started out fairly big, but they have shrunk is same amazing fast, with the smallest of modern transistors being literally tens of atoms thick at this point. This is why they are able to use specially designed transistors as the storage medium in SSDs.

Memory cards and SSDs are made with microchips, just like CPUs. Making microchips involves printing patterns onto thin slices of silicon metal. Over time, the technology for doing this — it’s called [microlithography](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microlithography) — has gotten better. We can make much thinner lines and connections, which means that more “stuff” can fit in the same size chip.

Not an answer or explanation but something I found interesting that’d I figured I’d pass to you. You can now how 1TB in the palm of your hand which is 1000x the 1GB you mentioned