Big Data - The Mad Men Years

Summary:As we inch towards the first weekend of spring, here's a rare treat for those who enjoy the prehistory of IT.You may already know that IBM invented the hard disk in 1956 with RAMAC, a wardrobe-sized 5MB behemoth.

As we inch towards the first weekend of spring, here's a rare treat for those who enjoy the prehistory of IT.

You may already know that IBM invented the hard disk in 1956 with RAMAC, a wardrobe-sized 5MB behemoth. You may not know that this was the start of a search that IBM vowed to continue "so long as men need ever more powerful machines to extend the farthest reaches of the human mind". But it was, and here's the proof.

Get your own farthest reaches extended now by watching this truly stirring promotional film made by Big Blue to help sell the revolutionary idea of revolving data. It's got the lot — stentorian voice-over, serious men in serious suits, laboratories full of Hollywood-grade equipment and central-casting researchers, and a March of Progress under the Banner of Science vibe that will get you jonesing for a buzz-cut hairstyle, Baudot paper tape and chrome fins on your Ford.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USJGui9yIuA

For it's not just a storage device. It's a Machine. As IBM says:"Such a Machine would for the first time provide management with perpetually current business records. To develop this idea into a working computer required the skills of accountants and artists, chemists and clerks, engineers and electricians, stenographers and salesmen... this is the story of this motion picture"

These days, the best a new hard disk can hope for is a press release and a six month lifespan before it's too small to merit a footnote in history. IBM itself abandoned this particular search in 2003, when it sold its hard disk division to Hitachi — presumably, our minds had been extended enough. Back then, though, five megabytes guaranteed you a launch second only to Sputnik.

So: pour yourself the first course of a three-martini lunch and join with us as we indulge in absolutely shameless nostalgia for the days before enterprise IT meant worrying about smartphone malware delivered by phishing spam over social networks.

Topics: Emerging Tech

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Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

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