Computer Memory: An interesting journey, since 1832

The earliest computer dates back to 1834 when Charles Babbage built the Analytical Engine with ‘read-only’ memory in the form of punch cards. Around the end of 1880, Herman Hollerith invented the punched card machine, a move that initiated the automatic data processing age. 

Hollerith’s machine-made 10 million punch cards daily. He went on to become the founder of IBM. His invention was used to tabulate US census reports. It remained in use till the 1970s and was replaced by magnetic tape. This shift brought in a revolution in data storage; the oxide-coated reel of tape could store data of 10k punch cards, that too for a longer duration. 

The 1930s had brilliant contributors, with Gustav Tauschek inventing drum memory in Austria in 1932. Konrad Zuse applied for a patent for mechanical memory in 1936, and Helmut Schreyer came up with prototype memory in 1939.

In the year 1947, magnetic drum memory was invented by several people independently. Towards the end of the 1940s, Jay Forrester took a giant leap in the computer world with the invention of random-access, coincident-current magnetic storage. This is considered the turning point in digital computer development. Forrester’s concept of magnetic core memory became extremely popular, and by 1953, it replaced all previous types of computer memory.

It was in 1950 when Ferranti Ltd went commercial with its computer memory of 256 40-bit words main memory and 16K words of drum memory. The move didn’t quite take off, with only eight computers finding buyers.

In the middle of the 1960s, Hewlett-Packard launched its real-time computer, powered with 8K memory. Around the same time, brand-new Intel jumped into the market with its semiconductor chip that boasted 2,000 bits of memory.

Lee Boysel came up with the first DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) chip in 1968. Two years on, Intel mass-produced DRAM and released it in the market for the public. In an unprecedented way, it picked up the pace and went on to become the world’s most popular semiconductor chip. By the turn of the 70s, DRAM replaced magnetic core memory. In 1974, Intel patented its’ memory system for a multichip digital computer.

Computer storage was picked up in the form of floppy disks at the onset of the 1970s. As the chip gained popularity, it kept reinventing and started packing a bigger punch every time. In 1984, Apple Computers released Macintosh, and in the first, this personal computer came with 128KB of memory. 

The 3-inch floppy disks from the 90s most of us are familiar with were much durable than their predecessors. Today’s PC storage scene is dominated by hard disk drives, with SSD (solid-state drive) steadily taking over. Thanks to the scientists for their contributions for over a period of 200 years, we can compute in the blink of an eye.

SSD is gaining ground because it runs faster, without taking up any significant computer memory space. If you are searching for PC memory solutions, you can settle down for SSD as per your need and budget.