core storage


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core storage

[′kȯr ‚stȯr·ij]
(computer science)
The main memory of a computer.

core storage

A non-volatile memory that holds magnetic charges in tiny ferrite cores. The direction of the flux determines the 0 or 1. Developed in the late 1940s by Jay W. Forrester and Dr. An Wang, it was used extensively in the 1950s and 1960s as the computer's internal workspace.

The cores (bits) are written by sending pulses with half the maximum current down each of the X and Y wires that will intersect at that core location. The direction of the pulses determines the magnetization (0 or 1). The core that receives both pulses is changed because it gets more than half the current. Reading is accomplished by a "destructive" read. A "0" is written to the core, and if the core was originally a 0, the sense wire receives no current. If it was originally a 1, current is sensed. The final step to complete the read is to rewrite the bit.

In 1956, IBM paid Dr. Wang USD $500,000 for his patent on core memories, which he used to expand his company, Wang Laboratories. See MRAM and early memories.


Core Storage
Core storage is why the internal workspace of the computer is called "memory." Strung together with either two or three wires, magnetic cores held their content without power.







Cores from the Whirlwind Computer
In 1952, this Whirlwind I core plane held 256 bits. Today's memory chips occupying the same amount of space hold billions of bits. (Images courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)


Cores from the Whirlwind Computer
In 1952, this Whirlwind I core plane held 256 bits. Today's memory chips occupying the same amount of space hold billions of bits. (Images courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)
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