Cloud Computing Software and Data Storage History

Cloud computing is the use of remote servers and storage databases to delivery computing services. The cloud involves data storage using the Internet, meaning that users don't need to maintain large amounts of server space themselves and they only need to pay for the services they need.

Cloud computing looks different for everybody, but all types of cloud computing come with benefits for business and personal use, such as cost, speed, productivity, performance, reliability, security, and the global scale that the cloud includes. All of these benefits create a safe and reliable space for all of your data.

Storage has always been an important part of human history, and thanks to advances in technology, the amount of storage space has been able to grow while storage devices have gotten smaller. Cloud computing is just the most recent type of data storage in a long history of devices and capabilities that have been evolving over the years.

  • 1928: Magnetic Tape: German engineer Fritz Pfleumer invented this method of storing information based on Valdemar Poulsen's invention of the magnetic wire in 1989. However, it was not actively used to record data until 1951 on the Mauchly-Eckert UNIVAC 1.
    • Magnetic tape was used primarily by IBM computers in the 1950s. It was half an inch wide and wound on removable reels, usually between 2,400 feet and 4,800 feet per reel.
  • 1932: Magnetic Drum: Gustav Tauschek built on Pfleumer's invention of magnetic tape and created the magnetic drum. It uses a ferromagnetic strip outside of the drum; as it rotates, it records data using electricity.
    • Up until the 1960s, magnetic drums were used as the primary form of computer memory. This ended when core memory was invented for computers instead, as it was smaller and had no moving parts.
  • 1946: Williams Tube: Professor Frederick C. Williams and fellow researchers at Manchester University created the Williams Tube, the first random-access computer memory. This tube used electrostatic cathode-ray display tubes to hold up to 2,048 bits.
    • The largest advantage of the Williams tube was that it allowed for fast random access, so the memory location was read and addressed directly.
  • 1946: Selectron Tube: This was an early form of computer memory from the Radio Corporation of America. It suffered from production issues, so for the most part, the Selectron tube was not available until mid-1948.
    • It cost about $500 to build a Selectron tube, which hindered how many could be made, even though they were faster and more reliable than a Williams tube.
  • 1949: Delay Line Memory: Delay line memory used inserted information patterns to create a delay path connected back to the beginning through a timed amplified closed-circuit loop to allow for recirculation of information.
    • Delay line memory used mercury because of its acoustic impedance and high speed of sound transmission (1,450 m/s), which allowed for a faster pulse than other media, like air, but limited the amount of pulses that could be sent at once.
  • 1949: Magnetic Core: American physicist An Wang created this pulse transfer controlling device. It was named after the way it used the magnetic field of the cores to control the current-switching in electromagnetic systems.
    • This type of memory became popular in the early 1960s as a great replacement for both low-cost/low-performance drum memory and high-cost/high-performance vacuum tubes.
  • 1956: Hard Disk: This type of memory uses rigid platters that store and retrieve digital data as they rotate. The information is written to the disk through an antenna or write head that receives transmitted electromagnetic flux.
    • The hard disk was first sold as standard in 1956 with the IBM 305 computer.
  • 1963: Music Tape: This cassette storage medium for audio was introduced by Phillips. It was originally intended for dictation machines, but it became popular for distributing prerecorded music.
    • The cassette offered great convenience over reel-to-reel audio recordings, even though it did not have the same quality.
  • 1966: DRAM: Robert H. Dennard invented Dynamic Random Access Memory, used to store every bit of information as an electrical charge in a circuit.
    • The capacitor determines whether the electrons stored in the DRAM capacitor are considered a 1 bit or 0 bit.
  • 1968: Twistor Memory: Twistor memory was created by Bell Labs and was similar to core memory. It was made by wrapping magnetic tape around a wire carrying a current.
    • Twistor memory was only used for a brief time between 1968 and the mid-1970s before it was replaced by RAM.
  • 1970: Bubble Memory: Andrew Bobeck invented bubble memory by using a thin film of magnetic material to hold little magnetized areas called bubbles that each stored one bit of data.
    • Bubble memory had a slow access speed due to large required loops that must be cycled through when it is being accessed.
  • 1971: 8" Floppy: IBM created this data storage device that consists of a thin piece of magnetic storage medium encased within a square plastic wallet.
    • The 8" floppy disk was initially created to load microcode into IBM mainframes, but it turned out to be faster than other drives, so they started selling them for $5.
  • 1976: 5.25" Floppy: Alan Shugart developed a newer version of the floppy disk that could be used in desktop computers. Since it had a larger storage capacity and was cheaper to make, it quickly became the standard.
    • At first, only one side of a floppy disk was used, but in 1978, double-sided reading was introduced, which greatly increased storage capabilities.
  • 1980: CD: This optical disc was used for digital data storage. It was initially created for storing digital audio and could hold up to 74 minutes of audio.
    • The idea of the audio CD came in the 1960s from James T. Russell, but it wasn't until it was presented to Sony in 1980 that the idea took off.
  • 1981: 3.5" Floppy: The floppy disk was once again upgraded to be smaller, and instead of an open window through which the storage medium could be read circular, it had a movable metal cover designed for better protection.
  • 1984: CD-ROM: Short for compact disk read-only-memory, the CD-ROM is a data storage medium that uses the same format as audio CDs.
    • The standard CD-ROM can hold approximately 650 to 700 megabytes of data.
  • 1987: DAT: Digital audio tape is a signal recording and playback medium Sony introduced to the public in 1987. It's similar in appearance to a compact audio cassette, but it's half the size and the recording is digital instead of analog.
    • DAT's technology prevents the data from being physically edited.
  • 1989: DDS: A digital data storage cassette is a format that enables storing and backing up computer data using magnetic tape. It evolved from digital audio tape technology.
    • The DDS format was modified later that year, and any tapes in the initial DDS format cannot be used by either DAT or DDS machines.
  • 1990: MOD: Magneto-optical discs use a combination of optical and magnetic technologies. To store data on the disc, the disc must be heated in regions with a laser to a temperature above the Curie point.
    • When data is written on the MOD, the data needs to be erased, written, and then verified. Eventually, technology was created to directly overwrite old data.
  • 1992: MiniDisc: A disc-based storage device used for data, specifically audio data. MD Data, the computer storage version of the MiniDisc, was announced in 1993 but never gained the traction that the MiniDisc had.
    • The MiniDisc was initially announced by Sony in 1991 and was introduced to the public on Jan. 12, 1992.
  • 1993: DLT: Digital Linear Tape is a standard for magnetic tape computer storage technology invented by the Digital Equipment Corporation.
    • DLT was purchased by the Quantum Corporation in 1994.
  • 1994: CompactFlash: A data storage device using flash memory in a standard enclosure. On a CompactFlash card, there is memory and the controller, so it can also be read by older devices.
    • CompactFlash cards can cope with rapid temperature changes and can be swapped from system to system.
  • 1994: Zip: A Zip drive is a removable disk storage system from Iomega that has a set of read/write heads mounted in a sturdy cartridge. The disk holds more data with faster performance than a standard floppy drive.
    • The Zip system introduced access protection by implementing a password to keep data safe.
  • 1995: DVD: A DVD is a type of modern optical disc storage. Broken down to its essentials, it's a faster CD that can hold video, higher-quality audio, photos, and computer data. It can encompass home entertainment, computer, and business information in a single format.
    • DVDs became a successful consumer electronics product within three years of their introduction. By 2003, more than 250 million DVD players existed in homes all over the world.
  • 1995: SmartMedia: Toshiba introduced SmartMedia, a flash memory card, in the summer of 1995 to compete with the MiniCard and CompactFlash formats. It was pitched as a successor to the floppy disk.
    • SmartMedia cards come in two formats, 5V and 3.3V, which are named for their main supply voltages.
  • 1995: Phasewriter Dual: This type of device is part of the first generation of optical storage systems. There is no one right way to write data onto a PD.
    • The Phasewriter Dual was introduced by Panasonic in 1995, but it was replaced quickly by the CD-ROM and DVD.
  • 1996: AIT: Advanced Intelligent Tape is a computer storage device using the magnetic tape format based on the earlier DAT format. It has four times the capacity of the DAT and can only be used as a backup system.
    • The AIT was developed by Sony.
  • 1996: CD-RW: A CD-RW is the rewritable version of a CD-ROM. Initial CD-ROMs had the data storage permanently stamped into the aluminum, but CD-RW discs have a phase-change recording layer and an additional layer of aluminum.
    • A CD-RW disc can be rewritten multiple times, depending on the quality of the disc and the production techniques employed.
  • 1997: Multimedia Card: A flash memory card unveiled by SanDisk and Siemens, it was initially based on Toshiba's NAND-based flash memory, so it is much smaller than other systems.
    • Multimedia cards have been superseded by SD cards but can also be used by devices that support SD cards, so they are still used today.
  • 1998: Memory Stick: This is a removable memory card format that Sony launched in October 1998 to store media for a portable device. It is designed to be moved from one device to another, usually a PC, so that the other device can receive the data from the initial device.
    • Initially, the memory stick came in sizes up to 128 MB, but the size limitation became a hinderance quickly.
  • 1999: Microdrive: Originally, the microdrive was a miniaturized hard disk in the form of a CompactFlash card that IBM developed. Later generations created more memory and were found primarily in PDAs and digital cameras.
    • Microdrives were small, hard disks that could be easily destroyed by vibrations and low air pressure.
  • 2001: USB Key: A USB flash drive is a NAND-type flash memory device that uses small, lightweight, removable storage to transfer data from one device to another.
    • USB flash drives are also known by a variety of different names, such as "thumb drives" and "pen drives."
  • 2001: SD Card: A Secure Digital card is a flash memory card format based on Toshiba's older Multimedia Card format except with DRM encryption features for faster file transfers.
    • SD cards are available in multiple different storage sizes and can be used in a variety of different devices.
  • 2003: Blu-Ray: This next-generation optical disc was designed for high-definition video and high-density data storage. It gets its name from the shorter blue laser wavelength it uses, which allows more data than a DVD.
    • A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold more than 2 hours of HD video plus audio, and a dual-layer disc can hold twice that.
  • 2003: xD Picture Card: A flash memory card format used exclusively by Fujifilm and Olympus digital cameras. They come in a variety of sizes.
  • 2004: WMV-HD: The Windows Media High Definition Video format encodes high-definition videos using Microsoft Windows Media Video 9.
    • You can do professional-grade professional video editing in Windows with the WMV-HD format.
  • 2004: HD-DVD: The High-Density Digital Versatile Disc was a digital optical format for media developed to be a competitor for Blu-ray. It was the same size as a Blu-ray disc and was promoted by Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, and four major film studios.
    • Toshiba developed both a single-layer and dual-layer capacity HD-DVD as well as a triple-layer disc that could offer 45GB of storage. However, they abandoned the format in 2008.
  • 2004: Holographic Memory: Holographic memory is used to store information inside crystals or photopolymers at a high density. It has the potential to become the next generation of storage media.
    • Holographic media is divided into write-once and rewritable media. Rewritable media can be achieved with the photorefractive effect in crystals.