Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Remembering RAMAC

Filed under
Hardware

Today's iPod-toting hipsters have no idea how much they owe to an unremarkable little building in downtown San Jose.

It was there, at 99 Notre Dame Ave., nearly 50 years ago, that a small band of IBM engineers developed the RAMAC, the first system for storing data on magnetic disks. The refrigerator-size beast was a technological breakthrough, and it's considered by most to be the forerunner of today's hard drives.

The invention of this bulky assembly of 50 spinning platters is being honored tonight by a worldwide engineering association as a ``milestone moment'' in engineering. It's an honor that could further help efforts to create a museum honoring the innovation performed at the former IBM lab.

``This recognition moves it from being viewed as a piece of machinery to a revolutionary computer system,'' said Al Hoagland, director of the Institute for Information Storage Technology and a professor of electrical engineering at Santa Clara University.

In computing circles, the RAMAC's reputation is already well-established.

Before the advent of magnetic disk storage, computers stored their information on rolls of magnetic tape or coded punch cards. Retrieving information could take hours or days. And banks and other companies often processed their data just once a week.

``It was a radical innovation,'' said Hoagland, who worked for IBM for 28 years. Transactions that might take days to process before could now be accomplished in minutes, Hoagland said.

Today, just a few of the original RAMACs are known to exist. One sits outside Hoagland's office on the third floor of the engineering building at Santa Clara University. On loan from IBM, the machine is being restored by students.

Hoagland hopes to have a fully functional RAMAC by next year, in time for the 50th anniversary of its unveiling by IBM.

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

EasyPup 2.2.14 released

Hot on the heals of EasyOS 2.2.14, EasyPup is released, for those who want a more traditional puppy. The apps and user interface is pretty much the same as EasyOS, but the underlying infrastructure is different. Read more

BSD: End of TrueOS, OpenBSD and FreeBSD at FOSDEM

  • It's Official But Sad: TrueOS Is Over As Once The Best Desktop BSD OS

    It's been on life support for a while but to much sadness, TrueOS indeed is no longer being maintained as the once very promising downstream of FreeBSD that for a while offered arguably the best out-of-the-box BSD desktop experience. TrueOS, formerly known as PC-BSD, is dead. Kris Moore, the VP of Engineering at iXsystems, confirmed earlier this month on their forums that work has ceased on the operating system.

  • OpenBSD -current - Frequent asked questions

    Hello, as there are so many questions about OpenBSD -current on IRC, Mastodon or reddit I’m writing this FAQ in hope it will help people.

    The official FAQ already contains answers about -current like Following -current and using snapshots and Building the system from sources.

  • OpenBSD's 'spinning' CPU time category

    Unix systems have long had a basic breakdown of what your CPU (or CPUs) was spending its time doing. The traditional division is user time, system time, idle time, and 'nice' time (which is user time for tasks that have their scheduling priority lowered through nice(1) or the equivalent), and then often 'interrupt' time, for how much time the system spent in interrupt handling. Some Unixes have added 'iowait', which is traditionally defined as 'the system was idle but one or more processes were waiting for IO to complete'. OpenBSD doesn't have iowait, but current versions have a new time category, 'spinning'.

  • FOSDEM 2020 Conference Recap

    For the third year in a row, I attended FOSDEM, an amazing open source conference in Brussels, Belgium. Taking place, February 1-2, the event is a totally volunteer run conference geared towards promoting the widespread use of free and open source software. The Foundation has sponsored and organized a FreeBSD table there for a few years now.

today's howtos

Debian To Take On COVID-19 With A Biohackathon

Debian developers are wanting to do their part to take on the global coronavirus pandemic by hosting a COVID-19 Biohackathon. This virtual event organized by Debian developers is taking place from 5 to 11 April. Their hope with this biohackathon is to "improve biomedical FOSS and the tools/libraries that support those projects." Among the work they hope to see realized from this hackathon are addressing various bugs, contributing to upstream biomedical open-source software, and related work. Read more