Not storing in your brain? What's left than clicking a picture or saving the file with a valid format and preserving it in storage devices. Life's so simple this way but it is achieved with time. Back in the late 1800s things were recorded only on a piece of paper/diary unlike now. In this post I will take you through the journey of Evolution of Storage Devices, from punch cards to memory cards. 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.

evolution of Storage Devices

Machine-Readable Punch Cards

Initially developed in 1725 by Basile Bouchon and consisted of stiff paper type material that contained digital information in the form of holes present/absent in predefined locations. They were widely in use by the mid 20th century serving as a fundamental unit in many complex computing devices.

Punch Cards

As of 2012, these have grown obsolete and are nothing more than a recording medium, interestingly, they were used in voting machines to record votes. If you can find anything similar to today's items then the  best thing for comparing punch cards to is an OMR sheet. Only they are not punched but darkened. Considering today's rate of data transfer, billions and billions of them would be required if you are to substitute your physical storage with them. Believe me, that's just another bad dream waking up among punch cards in your room.

Magnetic Drum

This was a metal cylinder coated with magnetic iron-oxide material on which data and programs can be stored. They were once used as a primary storage device between 1950s and 1960s. It used to have a speed of 3000 r.p.m. and on an average there existed 200 tracks on single drum. Electromagnetic pulse was stored by changing the magnetic orientation of ferromagnetic particles on the drum

Designed by Gustav Tauschek in 1932 in Austria. The biggest con of this unit was it was not portable. 

Magnetic Tapes

This can be counted as a revolutionary invention in the history of data storage. From storing records of radio or playbacks for gramophone, they played a vital role since the 1950s. Though they were developed long back in 1928 at Germany Magnetic tape was first used to record computer data in 1951 on the Eckert-Mauchly UNIVAC I. 

Unlike a non-portable few KBs of capacity holding Magnetic Drums, these were a big advancement into modern day storage technology. Modern magnetic tape is usually found in cassettes and cartridges, but initially, tape was held on 10.5-inch open reels.

Hard Disk

Introduced by IBM in the late fifties and 1960s. The earlier Hard Drives were immensely bulky and costly. However, the hard disk drive (HDD) is still the most common form of internal secondary data storage (whereas CPUs and RAM are considered primary storage) in computers.

What made and keeps the HDD so popular is its high capacity, which exceeds that of an average USB flash drive or DVD, and performance. Data on an HDD can be read and written relatively quickly. Magnetic heads read data off rapidly rotating rigid disks, also referred to as platters.

DRAM-(Dynamic Random Access Memory)

DRAM was invented by Robert Dennard in 1966. These were integrated with one transistor. The speciality of such cells were that they stored bits of information or data in the form of an electrical charge in a circuit, which effectively increased memory density.

Floppy Disk

Also a magnetic storage medium that came with variable sizes since it's origin. Starting from the huge 8 inch disk, 5¼ inch and upto the last 3½ inch diskettes. Now Floppy is only seen in Save/Save As icons. 

They were a ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange from the mid-1970s into the first years of the 21st century. With a data storage capacity of upto 1.44MB this device expired from market upon arrival of much larger capacitive CD.

CD-(Compact Disk)

The first recorded historical use of an optical disc was in 1884 when Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter recorded sound on a glass disc using a beam of light. An early optical disc system existed in 1935, named Lichttonorgel.

Sony and Philips developed the first generation of the CDs in the mid 1980s with the complete specifications for these devices. With the help of this kind of technology the possibility of representing the analog signal into digital signal was exploited to great level. The capacity of CD is 700MBs. The DVD disc appeared after the CD-ROM had become widespread in society.

DVD-(Digital Versatile Disk)

Jointly developed by Philips and Sony in 1995, the medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

The most standard form of DVD available in market is of 4.5GB storage. However a much larger capacitive DVD-9 is also popular. They are still in use but in a rare circumstance. Especially after the rise of Pendrives, they are all a show case article now.


Blu-Ray (the 2000s) 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. It can store an enormous amount of Data in its storage space of 400 nanometres. Although still common, optical discs are currently being replaced by online data storage and distribution.


A USB flash drive uses flash memory, which is non-volatile (meaning that it can get back stored data even after being powered off and then on again) and can be repeatedly erased and refilled with data – at least until the drive gets a corrupt sector.

Flash drives are usually very small for the amount of data they carry. They have no moving parts and so aren’t highly susceptible to wear and tear, they’re cheap and they aren’t as prone to damage as optical discs. They also don’t rely on dedicated drives, instead using the standard USB ports included on all modern computers. Emerging into the market in late 2000, the earliest flash drives could store 8 MB of data. Today, flash drives that can store few TBs of data are available.

Solid State Drive

Much faster than earlier discovered HDD, these are expensive compared to the latter and  used in a limited number of devices as of today. This is nonvolatile storage device that stores persistent data on solid-state flash memory. Solid-state drives actually aren't hard drives in the traditional sense of the term, as there are no moving parts involved. An SSD is also referred to as a solid-state disk.

In December 2009, Micron Technology announced an SSD using a 6 gigabits per second (Gbit/s) SATA interface.

Cloud Data Storage

No physical entity contains this from a user end, but are remotely stored in servers. The facility of storing data on cloud storages needs a major platform and that's quality internet.

cloud computing

This is a model of data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools, the physical storage spans multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. Cloud computing is believed to have been invented by Joseph Carl Robne6tt Licklider in the 1960s with his work on ARPANET to connect people and data from anywhere at any time. But now this has become popular manifolds with one signed in account giving a free storage upto 15GBs.


So this is all about Evolution of Data Storage from Punch Cards to SD cards, and further to Cloud storages and in this fast race of Technology world nothing is impossible in future and that means we can hope for a newer concept in the tomorrow. 

For more such interesting topics, follow TechGyd by Sukalyan.