Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New storage technologies replace old ones

In our discussion of progress in storage technology, we saw that large improvements occur when new methods of storing bits -- of differentiating ones from zeros -- are invented. Early computers used punched cards in which a one was recorded by punching a hole in a particular position on the card:

We no longer use holes in cards, but have moved to microscopic magnetized spots or pits on the surface of a rotating disk for storage. These are now being replaced by flash memory for some applications.

Researchers are always looking for new ways to differentiate between ones and zeros, and this article mentions several technologies that may take over for flash drives one day.

Do you remember computers with punched card, magnetic tape, or floppy disk storage? Does your mp3 player use a rotating disk or a flash drive for storage? Large flash drives are becoming available -- will your next laptop have a hard disk or a flash drive? What advantages would a flash drive have in a laptop? What disadvantages?