Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think. Small

IBM Ramac on fork lift vs USB stick
In 1956 IBM introduced the first hard drive. The 305 RAMAC allowed the computer to store data digitally. It weighed a ton (literally) and could store slightly less than 5MB of information. Thumb-sized USB drives will now contain a thousand times more data and are so common place they are often given away as corporate gifts and promotional items.

I may have missed the first shipments of RAMAC, but I vividly remember the first time a PC was delivered to an advertising agency, Brown Christensen, where I worked as a production assistant in 1983. It was a momentous occasion. Only one person in the company knew how to use it - Ross Jackson, then a young suit. He was quite impressed with himself. I recall him explaining that it had a Winchester hard drive. Fair enough, I though, the West was won with Winchesters, how could I fail to be impressed?

What didn't impress me was the arcane strings of code that were required to access and sort of function. Thankfully the Apple Macintosh came along the following year.

While I was working at BC (which was subesequently bought by DDB - then bought back by BC - then sold to and ruined by McCann Erickson), we held the account for Panasonic and Technics brands, which were distributed by Fisher & Paykel. One day a fax machine arrived - via our client's tech connections. It was placed in the telex room. That's right, the firm had a complete room dedicated to sending telexes. Secretaries would remian after hours to communicate with principles in Tokyo or New York. Within a year the telex was gone and the replacement fax was roughly half the size of its predecessor and had actually begun to receive messages, where previously there were few and came far between - no one in our local realm had a fax (which illustrated Metcalf's Law rather well).


Via TechCrunch top 25 days in computing history.

You might be interested in the Times Online archive - which reproduces the actual pages from microfiche (remember them).

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