A Timeline from the Data Storage Experts at Arcserve

Whether it’s for a family photo album, a computer program, or a Fortune 500 company’s business-critical systems, data storage is a must-have for nearly everyone. As technology has evolved,
computers have allowed for increasingly capacious and efficient data storage, which in turn has allowed increasingly sophisticated ways to use it.

These include a variety of business applications, each with unique storage demands. The storage used for long-term data archiving, in which the data will be very infrequently accessed, might be different from the storage used for backup and restore or disaster recovery, in which data needs to be frequently accessed or change.

None of these new data storage technologies would be possible, however, without a century of steady scientific and engineering progress. From the invention of the magnetic tape in 1928 all the way to the use of cloud today, advanced data storage has come a long way.



1928 Magnetic Tape

Fritz Pfleumer, a German engineer, patented magnetic tape in 1928. He based his invention off Vlademar Poulsen’s magnetic wire.

Computer Storage Magnetic Tape

1932 Magnetic Drum

G. Taushek, an Austrian innovator, invented the magnetic drum in 1932. He based his invention off a discovery credited to Fritz Pfleumer.


Magnetic Drum Computer Storage



1946 Williams Tube

Professor Fredrick C. Williams and his colleagues developed the first random access computer memory at the University of Manchester located in the United Kingdom. He used a series of electrostatic cathode-ray tubes for digital storage. A storage of 1024 bits of information was successfully implemented in 1948.


Computer Storage Williams Tube



Selectron Tube

In 1948, The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) developed the Selectron tube, an early form of computer memory, which resembled the Williams-Kilburn design.

Computer Storage Selectron Tube Image



1949 Delay Line Memory

The delay line memory consists of imparting an information pattern into a delay path. A closed loop forms to allow for the recirculation of information if the end of the delay path connects to the beginning through amplifying and time circuits. A delay line memory functions similar to inputting a repeating telephone number from the directory until an individual dials the number.

Computer Storage Delay Line Memory



Magnetic Core

A magnetic core memory, also known as a ferrite-core memory, uses small magnetic rings made of ceramic to store information from the polarity to the magnetic field it contains.

Computer Storage Magnetic Core



1956 Hard Disk

A hard disk implements rotating platters, which stores and retrieves bits of digital information from a flat magnetic surface.

Computer Storage 1956 Hard Disk



1963 Music Tape

Philips introduced the compact audio cassette in 1963. Philips originally intended to use the audio cassette for dictation machines; however, it became a popular method for distributing prerecorded music. In 1979, Sony’s Walkman helped transformed the use of the audio cassette tape, which became widely used and popular.

Music Tape



1966 DRAM (PDF)

In 1966, Robert H. Dennard invented DRAM cells. Dynamic Random Access Memory technology (DRAM), or memory cells that contained one transistor. DRAM cells store bits of information as an electrical charge in a circuit. DRAM cells increased overall memory density.

computer storage 1966 DRAM



1968 Twistor Memory

Bell Labs developed Twistor memory by wrapping magnetic tape around a wire that conducts electrical current. Bell Labs used Twistor tape between 1968 to the mid-1970s before it was totally replaced by RAM chips.

Twistor Memory 1968



1970 Bubble Memory

In 1970, Andrew Bobeck invented the Bubble Memory, a thin magnetic film used to store one bit of data in small magnetized areas that look like bubbles. The development of the Twistor memory enabled him to create Bubble Memory.

1970 Bubble Memory



1971 8″ Floppy

IBM started its development of an inexpensive system geared towards loading microcode into the System/370 mainframes. As a result, the 8-inch floppy emerged. A floppy disk, a portable storage device made of magnetic film encased in plastic, made it easier and faster to store data.

8 Inch Floppy Comp Storage



1975 5.25″ Floppy

Allan Shugart developed a the 5.25-inch floppy disk in 1976. Shugart developed a smaller floppy disk, because the 8-inch floppy was too large for standard desktop computers. The 5.25-inch floppy disk had a storage capacity of 110 kilobytes. The 5.25-inch floppy disks were a cheaper and faster alternative to its predecessor.

5 Inch Floppy Computer Storage



1980 CD

During the 1960s, James T. Russel thought of using light to record and replay music. As a result, he invented the optical digital television recording and playback television in 1970; however, nobody took to his invention. In 1975, Philips representatives visited Russel at his lab. They paid Russel millions for him to develop the compact disc (CD). In 1980, Russel completed the project and presented it to Sony.

1980 CD



1981 3.5″ Floppy

The 3.5-inch floppy disk had significant advantages over its predecessors. It had a rigid metal cover that made it harder to damage the magnetic film inside.

3 Inch Floppy 1981



1984 CD Rom

The CD-ROM, also known as the Compact Disk Read-Only Memory, used the same physical format as the audio compact disks to store digital data. The CD-ROM encodes tiny pits of digital data into the lower surface of the plastic disc, which allowed for larger amounts of data to be stored.

CD Rom 1984



1987 DAT

In 1987, Sony introduced the Digital Audio Tape (DAT), a signal recording and playback machine. It resembled the audio cassette tape on the surface with a 4 millimeter magnetic tape enclosed into a protective shell.

Computer Storage 1987 DAT



1989 DDS

In 1989, Sony and Hewlett Packard introduced the Digital Data Storage (DDS) format to store and back up computer data on magnetic tape. The Digital Data Storage (DDS) format evolved from Digital Audio Tape (DAT) technology.

1989 DDS Computer Storage



1990 MOD (PDF)

The Magneto-Optical disc emerged onto the information technology field in 1990. This optical disc format used a combination of optical and magnetic technologies to store and retrieve digital data. A special magneto-optical drive is necessary to retrieve the data stored on these 3.5 to 5.25-inch discs.

Computer Storage 1990 MOD



1992 MiniDisc

The MiniDisc stored any kind of digital data; however, it was predominately used for audio. Sony introduced MiniDisc technology in 1991. In 1992, Philip’s introduced the Digital Compact Cassette System (DCC). MiniDisc was intended to replace the audio cassette tape before it eventually phased out in 1996.

1992 Mini Disc



1993 DLT (PDF)

The Digital Equipment Corporation invented the Digital Linear Tape (DLT), an alternative to the magnetic tape technology used for computer storage.

1993 DLT computer storage



1994 Compact Flash

CompactFlash (CF), also known as “flash drives,” used flash memory in an enclosed disc to save digital data. CF devices are used in digital cameras and computers to store digital information.

CompactFlash computer storage




The Zip drive became commonly used in 1994 to store digital files. It was a removable disk storage system introduced by Iomega.

computer storage Zip



1995 DVD

DVD became the next generation of digital disc storage. DVD, a bigger and faster alternative to the compact disc, serves to store multimedia data.

1995 DVD




Toshiba launched the SmartMedia, a flash memory card, in the summer of 1995 to compete with MiniCard and SanDisk.

smart media computer storage



Phasewriter Dual

The Phasewriter Dual (PD) was the first device that used phase-change technology to store digital data. Panasonic introduced the Phasewriter Dual device in 1995. It was replaced by the CD-ROM and DVD.

phasewriter dual computer storage




The Compact Disc Rewritable disc, a rewritable version of the CD-ROM, allows users to record digital data over previous data.

CD RW Computer Storage



1997 Multimedia Card

The Multimedia Card (MMC) uses a flash memory card standard to house digital data. It was introduced by Siemen’s and SanDisk in 1997.

multimedia card computer storage



1999 Microdrive

A USB Flash Drive uses a NAND-type flash memory to store digital data. A USB Flash Drive plugs into the USP interface on standard computers.

computer storage microdrive



SD Card

The Secure Digital (SD) flash memory format incorporates DRM encryption features that allow for faster file transfers. Standard SD cards measure 32 millimeters by 32 millimeters by 2.1 millimeters. A typical SD card stores digital media for a portable device.

SD Card Computer Storage



2003 Blu Ray (PDF)

Blu-Ray is the next generation of optical disc format used to store high definition video (HD) and high density storage. Blu-Ray received its name for the blue laser that allows it to store more data than a standard DVD. Its competitor is HD-DVD.

2003 blu ray storage



xD-Picture Card

Olympus and Fujifilm introduced the xD-Picture Card in 2002, which are exclusively used for Olympus and Fujifilm digital cameras.

comp storage xd picture card



2004 WMV-HD

The Windows Media High Definition Video (WMV-HD) references high definition videos encoded with Microsoft Media Video nine codecs. WMV-D is compatible for computer systems running Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP. In addition, WMV-D is compatible with Xbox-360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.

2004 WMV-HD storage




High-Density Digital Versatile Disc (HD-DVD), a digital optical media format, uses the same disc size as Blu-Ray. It is promoted by Toshiba, NEC, and Sanyo.

HD DVD computer storage



Holographic (PDF)

The future of computer memory resides in holographic technology. Holographic memory can store digital data at high density inside crystals and photo-polymers. The advantage of holographic memory lies in its ability to store a volume of recording media, instead of just on the surface of discs. In addition, it enables a 3D aspect that allows a phenomenon known as Bragg volume to occur.

holograhpic PDF computer storage



Cloud Data Storage

Improvements in internet bandwidth and the falling cost of storage capacity means it’s frequently more economical for business and individuals to outsource their data storage to the cloud, rather than buying, maintaining and replacing their own hardware. Cloud offers near-infinite scalability, and the anywhere/everywhere data access that users increasingly expect.

cloud computing server room



Data storage technology has transformed completely since the initial models from the 1920s. Today, the cloud is not just making data storage easier and more convenient – it’s providing a platform for the businesses and services building the next era of computing.  Here at Arcserve, that means  keeping business-critical data backed up and available for recovery anytime, anywhere.

Learn more about how Arcserve uses the cloud to help companies keep their data protected from disaster.