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In Pictures: External Data Storage Through The Ages

In Pictures: External Data Storage Through The Ages
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The Evolution Of External Data Storage

External storage has a colorful history. Today, many of us walk around with 32 or 64 GB of capacity on our key chain in the form of a USB-based flash drive. But it wasn't too long ago that we carried packs of CD-Rs, 3.5-inch floppy disks, and, for some, punch cards. Let's take a look at how external storage has evolved over time.

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  • 32 Hide
    turbotong , April 6, 2012 4:38 AM
    Where are the portable hard drives?
  • 27 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , April 6, 2012 5:01 AM
    Wow, so many painful memories. I remember using multiple floppy disks consecutively just to install a single program.

    Often people use the phrase, "The good ol' days," but I don't think that applies here." Nevertheless, enjoyable article.
  • 20 Hide
    g-unit1111 , April 6, 2012 5:23 AM
    I still have my Zip drive. It doesn't work but I have it and all my disks.

    I'm still amazed at the fact that the 32GB micro SD card that I purchased for my new phone is smaller than a dime.
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    ltdan , April 6, 2012 4:34 AM
    I still have my SuperDisk drive, I used it until a few years ago to read old floppies. 750MB was HUGE back then, now it's just a drop in the TerraBuckit.
  • 32 Hide
    turbotong , April 6, 2012 4:38 AM
    Where are the portable hard drives?
  • 27 Hide
    pharoahhalfdead , April 6, 2012 5:01 AM
    Wow, so many painful memories. I remember using multiple floppy disks consecutively just to install a single program.

    Often people use the phrase, "The good ol' days," but I don't think that applies here." Nevertheless, enjoyable article.
  • 12 Hide
    GI_JONES , April 6, 2012 5:18 AM
    I used to work for a place that had a digital camera that used 3.5in floppies for storage.
  • 20 Hide
    g-unit1111 , April 6, 2012 5:23 AM
    I still have my Zip drive. It doesn't work but I have it and all my disks.

    I'm still amazed at the fact that the 32GB micro SD card that I purchased for my new phone is smaller than a dime.
  • 9 Hide
    runswindows95 , April 6, 2012 5:30 AM
    GI_JONESI used to work for a place that had a digital camera that used 3.5in floppies for storage.


    I remember those Sony Mavica cameras. They didn't take the best photos, but data transfer was easy.

    Also, it's scary that the 3.5" floppy lasted the longest so far. I finally throw out all my floppy discs last year. When you got 1TB sitting on your desk, and 8GB on your keys, what good is 1.4MB now. I still use CD-RW's and DVD+RW's though. I've got a lot of projects I burn to them, so worse case scenario, I will only have to fix them to a certain point, and not redo them all.
  • 7 Hide
    lemlo , April 6, 2012 6:10 AM
    I can remember installing Os/2 warp (my fav os of all time) multiple times on 3.5s. It took foreeeever! We're talking stacks apon stacks of disks to get the entire os installed. Life was good :) 
  • 14 Hide
    lemlo , April 6, 2012 6:11 AM
    Used to use 5.25's too and a real good game could be on 3-5 of those disks too back in the 80's. Cga was heavy stuff i tell ya.
  • 6 Hide
    jaquith , April 6, 2012 6:45 AM
    Hmm...what about Millenniata M-DISC? It's pretty cool :) 

    1000 Year lifespan! M-DISC - http://millenniata.com/m-disc/ Example LG's WH12LS39 Blu-Ray - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136241

    I've used a lot of those over the years, it's kinda making me feel old. Yeah, I remember the 'stack' of floppies to install Office, PageMaker, etc. I too remember the 'fun days' of modems to download OS updates...geez. Think happy thoughts.
  • 17 Hide
    agnickolov , April 6, 2012 7:32 AM
    5.25 inch floppies have lived much longer than 1982. I still had such a floppy in 1993 for example - in a newly built 486 computer, side by side with the 3.5 inch floppy.

    Also, 3.5 inch floppies reached 2.88 MB. That standard (introduced by IBM) didn't become popular, but it did exist for a while.

    Finally, the most important form of external storage today is missing - external HDDs. These go up to 5TB at present IIRC.
  • 13 Hide
    victorious 3930k , April 6, 2012 9:45 AM
    USB drives can come with 1TB (at $3000 and in a Victorinox Swiss Army knife)
  • 6 Hide
    gam0reily , April 6, 2012 10:58 AM
    Its pathetic that I had use for floppies until 2006. I had a floppy disk reader in my old system, which produced iritating noises. I took it out a year ago from that system.
  • 10 Hide
    Nibhor , April 6, 2012 11:06 AM
    My Commodore64 used to use common audio tapes before I upgraded to 5.25 floppy disks.

    It was really easy to make a copy with a simple double tape recorder.
  • 11 Hide
    A Bad Day , April 6, 2012 11:33 AM
    I remember years ago, when my dad was frustrated that my teacher demanded us to use flash drives instead of floppy disks.

    "Floppy disks are so cheap! Why does your teacher dislike it?"


    Oh, and we also have a Laserdisc player and a few musical videos featuring the non-CGI old version of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • 4 Hide
    Microgoliath , April 6, 2012 11:38 AM
    Isn't floppy disk still the best and safest way to update your bios? Correct me if I'm wrong please xD.
  • 11 Hide
    zodiacfml , April 6, 2012 12:02 PM
    Though the SD card is popular, before that is the Compact Flash standard with two variants. My first digital camera used such.
  • 13 Hide
    teddymines , April 6, 2012 12:25 PM
    pharoahhalfdeadWow, so many painful memories. I remember using multiple floppy disks consecutively just to install a single program.

    The infamous Floppy Shuffle! I still recall buying 50 generic 5.25" floppies in a bag from a guy at college in 1987.
  • -6 Hide
    commhealy , April 6, 2012 12:35 PM
    what about holographic storage?
  • 11 Hide
    maxinexus , April 6, 2012 12:49 PM
    Remember the times when windows 95 was on like 15 1.44 floppy disks...installing a windows was quite a workout lol
  • 1 Hide
    nforce4max , April 6, 2012 12:54 PM
    MicrogoliathIsn't floppy disk still the best and safest way to update your bios? Correct me if I'm wrong please xD.


    Indeed it is plus it is easy :s
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