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 2019 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.)







Would They Have Believed It?
A sale at Staples for 25,000 times as much random access storage cost 1/1000th of one month's rent of the RAMAC in 2019 dollars.
References in periodicals archive ?
By contrast, the Ramac virtual arrays already feature this capability.
So you could keep records of inventory, customers, accounts receivable, and so forth--and it was called the random access machine, RAMAC. And then the spin-masters got hold of it and changed it to the Random Access Method of Accounting Control, and that became the acronym for RAMAC.
When they had already built the development models, I went to see the 305-a RAMAC. I looked at the signals coming off the file and they looked very erratic.
In the same way, says StorageTek, Shark's Concurrent Copy feature, already out on System 390 drives, was upgraded on the Ramac virtual architecture to include integration with Snapshot, but IBM has now had to revert back to its original version on the Shark.
Meanwhile, StorageTek believes that IBM on Monday will quietly upgrade its existing Ramac systems, still sourced from StorageTek, as an option for those who aren't ready to move over to the new - but in StorageTek's eyes the more traditional - Shark architecture.
I got assigned to the RAMAC project but I didn't do anything in customer engineering.
CTR: That's good for the beginnings of RAMAC. What do you think are the significant mile-stones after that and up until today in the disk drive industry?
1997 The capacity of a single disk from Seagate reaches 47GB, 9,400 times greater than the original RAMAC.
IBM has been selling the RAMAC since 1994 and has been purchasing it on an OEM basis from StorageTek.
IBM added a new peer- to-peer copy feature to its model 9393-T82 RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA) "Turbo" arrays for mainframes, a StorageTek product formerly known as Iceberg that IBM resells under the RAMAC name brand.
Beginning with a punched card and soon followed by the first magnetic tape drive, the IBM 726 in 1952, and the first disk drive, the IBM Ramac 350 in 1956, the storage industry and its hierarchy was born.
A "Step Up" campaign offered expansion of capabilities and assumption of IBM warranties and service agreements to users of IBM RAMAC Virtual Array and StorageTek Shared Virtual Array (9393) disk systems.