Magnetic storage devices were nearly as large a leap forward for humanity as movable type. The devices offer the ability to record and quickly re-record all types of information. The technology underlying magnetic recording was invented at the end of the 19th century and, over the course of history, has seen many improvements.
Magnetic tape began as magnetised steel wire. In 1899, Valdemar Poulse invented a device called the telegraphone that used magnetised steel wire to transmit information. The telegraphone performed poorly compared to wax cylinders, which were dominant during that time. By the 1930s, manufacturer BASF invented magnetic tape by binding iron oxide to one side of a cellulose acetate tape. Versions of this magnetic tape are still used by manufacturers as of 2010.
IBM created the first magnetic disk technology in 1956 with the 350 RAMAC computer disk storage system. Building from that technology, the company introduced the first flexible magnetic disk, the 5 1/4 inch floppy disk, in 1971. Throughout the ensuing decades, manufacturers including Shugart Associates, Fujitsu and Seagate increased the capacity of floppy disk technology.
Hard Disk Drive
Hard disk drives grew from IBM's 1956 introduction of magnetic disk technology, which was technically the first hard disk drive. Modern hard drives use much more than a magnetised disk. They contain a printed circuit board that holds all the electronic connections of the drive, a micro controller unit, a central processing unit, a memory chip and more. For their size, hard drives have a significantly larger storage capacity than any previous magnetic storage devices.