The World's First Computer With Data Storage

By | May 7, 2018

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Technology has made major advancements since the mid 1900’s. Many consider the 1970’s to be the first time in history a computer was created and made available for purchase. This is the first time personal computers were available to the general public, but it’s definitely not the first time a computer was built and created in order to serve the general public.

In September 1956, IBM launched the first computer with magnetic disc storage, or what is more well-known as a hard disc drive (HDD). The 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) weighed over 2000 pounds, cost $35,000 a year to operate, and only stored 5 MB (mega-bytes) of data. It could be leased to businesses for $3,200 per month in 1957. Over one thousand of these systems were manufactured between 1957 - 1961. 

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When IBM announced the availability of this massive machine, they released a film which chronicled the 5 year journey from research and development to the creation of th 305 RAMAC. The film was used to pitch this brand new machine to the modern-day business, offering to make the burdening task of data storage, data retrieval and mathematical functions a thing of the past. IBM emphasized such features as “recording transactions as they occur” and “processing amazing speed and unrelated data, randomly retrieved and randomly transacted”. The vast amount of storage the 305 ARAMAC was able to create was compared to the ability of the current punch card system. This contemporary computer of the times could collect and store as much as “32 cartons containing 64,000 IBM punch cards”.

Chrysler was the first company to purchase and use the 305 RAMAC. It was installed at their Motor and Parts division (MOPAR) and replaced a punch card storage structure that maintained their inventory control and order processing system. IBM also provided a 305 RAMAC for the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, held in Squaw Valley, USA.