Computer hard drive history

Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Hard drive showing internals

Listed below are the important events in history relating to a computer hard drive, including release dates for many hard drive technologies.


See our computer memory history page for the history of hard drives.


Herman Hollerith developed a method for machines to record and store information onto punch cards to be used for the US census. He later formed the company we know as IBM today.


Freddie Williams applied for a patent on his CRT (cathode ray tube) storing device in December. The device that became known as the Williams tube was capable of storing between 512 and 1024 bits of data.

The Selectron tube capable of storing 256 bits of information began development.


Before using disks, storage units used magnetic drums called drum machines or drum-memory computers. The first commercial drum machine was developed by the Engineering Research Associates of Minneapolis and used by the U.S. Navy ERA 110. Drum machines were used throughout the early '50s.


Two IBM 305 RAMAC computers

On September 13, 1956, the IBM 305 RAMAC was the first computer to be shipped with a hard drive. The drive contained 50 24-inch platters, was the size of two refrigerators, and weighed a ton. It could store only five megabytes of information and each megabyte cost $10,000.


Chucking Grinder Co. began working on disk drives.


Chucking Grinder Co. moved to Walled Lake Michigan and became Bryant Computer Products, a subsidiary of Ex-Cello Corp. company.

IBM introduced the IBM 1301 disk storage unit on June 2, 1961, capable of storing 28 million characters.


On October 11, 1962, IBM introduced the IBM 1311 disk storage drive, which stored 2 million characters.


IBM shipped the 3340 Winchester hard drive with two spindles and a capacity of 30 MB. This drive was the first drive to utilize the Winchester technology.


Seagate introduced the ST506 hard drive, the first hard drive developed for microcomputers.

The first gigabyte hard drive was introduced by IBM and weighed 550lbs with a price of $44,000.


The original SCSI, SCSI-1, was developed.


SCSI-2 was approved.


Sandisk (formerly SunDisk) developed the first non-flash SSD (solid-state drive) with a capacity of 20 MB.


The first flash-based, non-volatile SSD was developed by M-Systems.


SCSI-3 was approved.


SanDisk released the first SSD with PATA interfaces in 1998.


Hitachi closed deal to purchase IBM's hard drive operation for $2.05 billion on December 31, 2002.


The first 1 TB (terabyte) hard drive, developed by Hitachi, was released in January 2007.

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