We’ve come a long way with technology in the last century. When our grandparents were children, they never would have dreamed of the channels of data communication we have today. If you were born in the 90s, the earliest form of data transmission you knew was the floppy disk, but floppy disks are relatively modern in the grand scheme of things!
Our history lesson begins with punch cards, which have been in use since 1725 and lasted all the way up until the 1970s, these simply loops of perforated paper that could be used as a back-up for data; hence, they were the earliest form of data storage. Punch cards were used for around 200 years, but they were very slow and stored a very low capacity, and on top of that it took a lot of hard work and processing before you could read the data. A new solution was needed. In the 1950s computing giant IBM started storing data on the far more reliable magnetic tape. One roll of magnetic tape could store as much data as 10,000 punch cards, and they remained popular until the 1980s.
Whilst we were still using magnetic tape, in 1956 IBM introduced its first hard drive; it was revolutionary because it could hold 4.4MB of data! That was a huge amount back then, even though now a single file could be that size.
In 1969 we had our first encounter with the floppy disk; it was a very early version, it measured 8 inches, and could only hold 80kb of read only data – that’s about 640 words of text. Luckily it was soon replaced by a 256kb disk in 1973, which held around 2000 words, and finally a 3-inch disk that held about 8000 words in the late 1990s. Regardless of how small they might seem to the computer users of today, at the time they were revolutionary. Yet we still needed more space.
In 1979 Phillips and Sony developed the CD, and by 1982 you could buy them. Today’s CDs can store around 700mb of data. They overtook the use of floppy disks, but in 1998 something even better came along; the flash drive. We still use flash drives today for transferring data between devices every day; we use them in schools, in work, and even on gaming consoles and more for creating back-ups.
It is only now that we are starting to see a rise in the use of cloud storage; even though it was actually first invented in the late 1960s. Now many devices automatically create back-up data on the cloud, or you can register an account and store your own files there. Cloud storage is when networks use remote, off-site storage all over the world. It’s often used to back up company servers. Cloud storage requires just one data server which is connected to the internet; copies of your data are then sent over the internet to a server, and can be retrieved online when requested. Some popular versions of cloud storage include Google Docs, or even Flickr and Youtube.
With ever advancing technology producing even better online storage, optical transceivers, broadband cables and more, we’re sure to see even more advanced solutions being developed in the near future.