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Classic 1950s IBM Short Film on the Making of the RAMAC, the First Computer with Magnetic Disk Storage | #retrocomputing

Check out the classic IBM video below detailing the inception of the first magnetic disk storage computer, the RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) – mind you the ‘hard disk’ is fifty 24″ platters! The video is filled with some pretty silly shots, such as the RAMAC installed on a dock adjacent to some water, or some ‘cuts’ of men walking back and forth between rooms to suggest the passage of time. On that note the video is filled with plenty of male-centric shots and suggestions, like only hiring men out of college – “each man selected” – and men dictating ideas that only women write down. (Here at Adafruit it’s safe to say we’ve dismantled that stereotype.) But it does also show some interesting backstory, such as suggesting magnetic ‘disk’ design, and the arm that searches and retrieves data from it, was at least in part inspired by the phonograph and its ability to quickly ‘seek’ ahead on a vinyl record with a simple lift and relocation of the stylus. (Did I mention there’s a shot of the RAMAC situated on a dock adjacent to water?)

Anyhow, enjoy:

At 2:28 in the video above you can see the following building where the creation of the hard disk took place – the building was designated a historic landmark (PDF) in 2002 by the San Jose City Council. The sign on the building suggests it was currently available to lease as recent as October 2017 (via Street View):

Segments from the archival IBM film above can be seen in this more-modern voice-over video by Michael Bazeley for the San Jose Mercury News – along with additional footage and high-res shots woven in:

If you’ve scrolled this far you might want to read more still here at PC World.


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