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For a couple of years in the mid-1970s, bubble memory seemed to be the way ahead. It works by shuffling tiny magnetic domains around a sheet of orthoferrite — an iron/rare earth/oxygen compound — by putting current through the sheet. It was denser than other memory systems, very robust, reasonably low-power and cost-effective. The bubble memory shown here is Intel's 7110, a 1Mb device, that saw use in a few laptops and embedded systems in the early 1980s. The unit here was made in 1984, towards the end of the technology's relevance.
Ordinary solid-state memory developed faster than bubble memory and soon saw it off; it was always much faster, but soon became denser, cheaper and lower-power.
Photo credit: Rupert Goodwins