From punched cards to flash and the cloud

Since the launch of Computer Weekly in 1966, the world of storage has gone through transformations as remarkable as aviation’s progression from the Wright brothers to supersonic flight.

And just as the pioneers of flight would recognise the fundamentals of today’s aircraft in basic design, from the viewpoint of 1966, the speeds and magnitudes of now would seem utterly alien.

Magnetic tape and even the spinning hard drive had already been invented for , but punched cards and paper tape were used to run programs and store data in most of the nation’s datacentres.

Punched cards – which dated back to textile and fairground organ applications from the 19th century and beyond – were usually the IBM-derived standard 73/8in x 31/4in with 80 columns and 12 rows (0-9 and 11 and 12), although there were variants of card size and column width from other computer makers, such as the UK’s ICL.

The relationship of storage to the architecture of computing is all about capacity, latency and throughput. In other words, how much data can be kept, how quickly it can be accessed and at what rate.




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