Tagged: hard disk

1.8-inch hard disk drive (1991 – 2014)

The 1.8-inch hard disk drive was introduced by Integral Peripherals in 1991, and had up to two platters for a maximum storage capacity of 320 GB on the last model introduced by Toshiba in 2009.

The 1.8-inch form factor of hard drive was not popular at first, despite being the same form factor as the PCMCIA card, making it suitable for use as removable storage on laptops with a PCMCIA slot.

It eventually came to be used for internal storage in compact laptops such as netbooks, and in the original version of the Apple iPod, later known as the iPad Classic, which was discontinued in 2014.

The 1.8-inch hard disk drive is no longer produced, having been replaced in the kind of devices that would have once used it by solid-state drives.

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8-inch hard disk drive (1979 – late 1980s)

The 8-inch hard disk drive was a magnetic storage device mainly used in minicomputers, and was first introduced in 1979 eventually replacing the 14-inch disk pack and the earlier 14-inch ‘Winchester’ sealed disk drives.

The first 8-inch drive was the IBM ‘Piccolo’ drive, using six 8-inch platters and offering 65 MB of storage in a sealed unit to reduce the possibility of dust contamination. The smaller size also meant the drive didn’t need to be a standalone unit.

8-inch drives were produced from 1979 by a number of different manufacturers, but in 1980 Seagate introduced the 5.25-inch hard disk drive aimed at the microcomputer market, and it was the 5.25-inch hard disk drive that was introduced in the IBM PC-XT in 1983.

However, 8-inch hard disk drives continued to be used in minicomputers for some years.

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Quantum GoVault (2006 – )

The GoVault is a removable hard disk cartridge system introduced by Quantum in 2006 and aimed at the small business market. The cartridges consist of a 2.5-inch hard disk drive in a rugged case that is claimed can withstand drops of up to 1 metre onto a hard surface. The GoVault dock can be internal (using either the 3.5 or 5.25-inch form factors) or external.

Initial capacities were 40GB, 80GB or 120GB, with 160GB and 320GB versions being released later.

GoVault is intended for data backups, and although more expensive than tape, has the advantage of being capable of being accessed in the same way as any other hard disk drive.

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3.5-inch hard disk drive (1983 – )

Hard disk drives consist of one of more rigid disks (or platters) with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces.

The 3.5-inch form factor hard disk drive is one of the two dominant types on the market, with the other being 2.5-inch. The 3.5-inch form factor hard disk drive was introduced by Rodime, a Scottish company, in 1983. Rodime already built hard disk drives using the 5.25-inch form factor, but introduced the smaller size that utilised the form factor already introduced for 3.5-inch floppy disk drives.

The first 3.5-inch hard disk drive had a capacity of 10 MB. After its introduction, many competitors introduced hard disk drives using the 3.5-inch form factor, and Rodime sued many other disk manufacturers for infringement of its patents.

Whilst called 3.5-inch, the drives occupy a space 4-inches wide, and were initially 1.6-inches high (the same as the then current ‘half-height’ 3.5-inch floppy disk drives), but the most popular size today is the 1-inch high ‘slimline’ or ‘low-profile’ version.

As of 2014, the largest capacity 3.5-inch hard disk drive is 10 TB, equal to 1,000,000 times the capacity of the first disk.

Whilst not strictly speaking removable media, 3.5-inch hard disk drives form the basis for many external hard disk drives such as those connected by USB, and docks are available to read many hard disk drives without installing them.

Solid-state drives using flash memory are beginning to replace hard disk drives for uses where speed, power consumption and durability are more important considerations, such as in tablet computing.

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2.5-inch hard disk drive (1988 – )

Hard disk drives consist of one of more rigid disks (or platters) with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces.

The 2.5-inch form factor is one of the two dominant types on the market, with the 3.5-inch form factor being the other. 2.5-inch hard disk drives were introduced in 1988 by PrarieTek and have become most common in laptops and other mobile devices, as well as game consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

They are normally 9.5mm high with a single platter, but taller drives with two or more platters have been produced, as well as smaller sizes (a 5mm version by Western Digital was introduced in 2013 for use in UltraBooks).

Whilst not strictly speaking removable media, 2.5-inch hard disk drives form the basis for many external hard disk drives such as those connected by USB, and docks are available to read hard disk drives without installing them.

Solid-state drives using flash memory are beginning to replace hard disk drives for uses where speed, power consumption and durability are more important considerations, such as in tablet computing.

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SyQuest 5.25-inch (44/88/200MB) (1988 – 1998)

The SyQuest 5.25-inch disks were removable hard-disk cartridges, initially introduced by SyQuest in 1988.

The SQ400 cartridge had a capacity of 44 MB, and the SQ800 (released in 1991) had a capacity of 88 MB. Initially, the 88 MB drives could only read and not write to 44 MB disks until a combination drive was introduced. The SQ2000 disk was introduced in 1994 and had a capacity of 200 MB.

The 5.25-inch generation of SyQuest disks were popular with Apple Macintosh owners, and used to transfer and backup large amounts of data by graphic artists, musicians and engineers.

By 1993, SyQuest had begun releasing smaller 3.5-inch form factor disks. These were popular, but because of the huge installed base of the SyQuest 5.25-inch drives, the 3.5-inch cartridges were not as successful as them.

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Castlewood Orb (1998 – 2004)

The Castlewood Orb was a removable rigid-disk drive introduced by Castlewood Systems in 1998.

The first version had a capacity of 2.2 GB, but in 2001 a version with 5.7 GB was released (the 5.7 GB drive could read the older 2.2 GB disks). Disks came formatted for either Macintosh or IBM compatibles, and drives were available in external and internal versions.

Castlewood Systems was formed by several former employees of SyQuest Technologies. Shortly after the Orb was released, SyQuest brought a lawsuit against Castlewood for misappropriation of trade secrets and Iomega later brought another lawsuit against Castlewood for patent infringement.

The Orb disk competed with the Iomega Jaz, but internally the two products differed. The Jaz cartridge used two internal disks, while the Orb used a single disk, allowing for lower costs.

Castlewood Systems ceased operations around 2004.

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Control Data Corporation 9877 (1974 – 1990s)

The Control Data Corporation (CDC) 9877 was a removable hard disk pack, introduced in 1974 for use in the CDC 9762 disk drive. The drives were standalone devices, connected to mini-computers from the likes of DEC or Data General via an interface known as Storage Module Device (SMD).

Of the five 14-inch platters, three contained data and head carriage positioning information, and two were for data protection. The CDC 9877 could store 80 MB.

Unlike modern hard disks which contain sealed magnetic platters, the CDC 9877 and similar disk packs contained removable sets of platters inside a protective canister with a lifting handle which was turned to release the cover once the pack was in the drive.

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Digital Equipment Corporation RK07 (1976 – 1990s)

The RK07 was a removable hard disk cartridge with dual platters, introduced by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1976. It was commonly used on DEC’s PDP-11 and VAX systems.

It had a capacity of 28 MB, and its 14-inch platters span at 2,400 rpm.

Unlike modern hard disks which contain sealed magnetic platters, the RK07 and similar disk packs were removable sets of platters inside a protective canister with a lifting handle.

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SyQuest EZ135 (1995-1996)

EZ135 was a removable hard disk cartridge introduced by SyQuest in 1995.

The EZ135 had a capacity of 135 MB, and was marketed as a competitor to the Zip disk, with a higher capacity and speed.

The drive was not backward-compatible with prior SyQuest products, and it was superseded by the EZFlyer with a capacity of 230 MB just a year later.