RAMAC


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RAMAC

(Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) The first hard disk computer, introduced by IBM in 1956. All 50 of its 24" platters together held a total of five million 8-bit alphanumeric characters (5MB). Weighing more than a ton, RAMAC was half computer, half tabulator, and more than a thousand units were built until production ceased in 1961. The RAMAC had a drum memory for program storage, but its I/O was wired by plugboard. The machine was a major breakthrough as all prior computer storage used magnetic tape.

RAMAC leased for USD $38,400 per year, equivalent to roughly $300,000 in 2016 dollars. About a third of the cost was RAMAC's "huge" disk system. However, 60 years later, that same amount of storage cost less than one thousandth of one cent on a multi-terabyte hard drive. See tabulator.


The RAMAC, 1956
At 2,000 magnetic bits per square inch, IBM's RAMAC was an amazing technology in the 1950s. Each 24" platter held a whopping 100,000 characters (no bytes then) for a total of five million characters. (Images courtesy of IBM.)


The RAMAC, 1956
At 2,000 magnetic bits per square inch, IBM's RAMAC was an amazing technology in the 1950s. Each 24" platter held a whopping 100,000 characters (no bytes then) for a total of five million characters. (Images courtesy of IBM.)







RAMAC Resurrected
In 1994, IBM reinstated the RAMAC name for its hard disk arrays. In 38 years, areal density vaulted from 2,000 to 259,500,000 bits per square inch, and access time decreased from 600 milliseconds to 9.5. (Image courtesy of IBM.)
References in periodicals archive ?
Where did the RAMAC go after those initial shipments?
Then, the RAMAC could do 30 instructions per second.
All of this stuff is the result of the work that was already done with the original RAMAC.
If RAMAC hadn't come along we would be back in the 1940s in terms of technology--the number of bank tellers we would have, the number of airline people we would have, the number of hospitals we would have, the number of educators we would have, the number of doctors we would have .
I discovered the original building still existed, and suddenly I saw that an incredible opportunity existed for the City of San Jose: to establish a technical museum featuring magnetic disk storage in the original building where the RAMAC was created," he said.
Add the 6,000 IBM RAMAC customers to their own and StorageTek could boost its support and upgrade business too.
MARK: If I had a RAMAC and I were happy with it, then when it came time to add another array I'd probably just stay with the RAMAC hardware, rather than switch to ESS.
On the same Monday that IBM made its announcement, StorageTek announced an extended warranty and support program for RAMAC, and a commitment to maintain and upgrade the hardware themselves.
It'll have storage capacities and response times similar to what the RAMAC has now.
IBM has also promised that ESS would support systems running NT, or Unix, which the present RAMAC doesn't support.
The campaign covers all models of IBM's RAMAC Virtual Array (sold through an OEM relationship between IBM and StorageTek) and StorageTek Shared Virtual Array disk systems.