Author Topic: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?  (Read 2241 times)

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Offline rrinker

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Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« on: December 04, 2018, 02:13:17 am »
 Came across this issue of Byte while reading about a different vintage computing subject, with this ad from Ohio Scientific - 74MB hard drive! Yours for only $6k Yankee Bucks in 1977.

https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1977-11/page/n43

Couple pages previously is a funny for EE geeks cartoon, couple of transistors taking about a third one "I may be biased, but he looks a little saturated"

Oh and on the next page after this is a first look at the TRS-80 Model 1. Interesting to note are the pre-production floppy drives, with odd looking cases and shown being 'used' without the Expansion Interface.

 
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Offline In Vacuo Veritas

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 02:18:46 am »
Why would anyone think that?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1360

Mainframe and minis had disk packs with much more than 10MB storage.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 04:13:01 am »
 Yes - mainframes. But we're talking 8 bit micros here.

Even years later, a hard drive for a typical 8 bit machine was 5, 10, or 15 MB, as far as 'commonly available'. Still have the manuals for the TRS-80 5MB HDD, though I never actually had one on my machine.  Even the PC XT, 20MB. My first HDD was an RLL version for a whopping 32MB.

 

Offline kizmit99

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 07:02:54 am »
Oh and on the next page after this is a first look at the TRS-80 Model 1. Interesting to note are the pre-production floppy drives, with odd looking cases and shown being 'used' without the Expansion Interface.

Actually it looks like one of those "floppies" is the expansion interface...
 

Online ebastler

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2018, 09:04:19 am »
[...]
https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1977-11/page/n43
[...]
Oh and on the next page after this is a first look at the TRS-80 Model 1. Interesting to note are the pre-production floppy drives, with odd looking cases and shown being 'used' without the Expansion Interface.

And the first-ever edition of "Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar" on page 10 (of the magazine, not the PDF). Plus an article on Sweet16 on page 150, by a guy named Steve Wozniak. A nice issue of BYTE, thank you!
 

Offline Ampera

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2018, 04:21:45 pm »
All isn't an appropriate descriptor. If there was money for it in 1970, you could get whatever size companies like IBM had the technology to build.

If you're talking about what's commonly available, hard drives weren't commonly available at all for home/hobbyist computing kits before the 5150, which didn't even ship at launch with a hard drive, despite it being a high end business-oriented machine. If you really needed to store data on your local computer on a hard disk, for some reason, you could get whatever size you could afford, pretty much. As was previously said, mainframe machines definitely had over 10MB drives available in the late 70's.

When the IBM PC/XT came out, it shipped with a 10MB MFM hard disk, with drive sizes increasing throughout the 1980's, but even until PCs really entered into the home in the late 80's, I'd imagine you'd still find people with their C64s, Atari 400/800s, or even Amiga/STs without any sort of hard disk storage whatsoever.

Hard drives initially made sense for random access storage that was cheaper than just a load of ferrite core memory in a box, but not something like a tape drive, which has issues with getting to a specific bit of data in a fast time (which might be important if you're a bank doing transactions).

So home use really didn't need hard disks until prices dropped significantly, and floppy disks weren't enough to store most/all of what you did on a computer.
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Online Towger

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2018, 04:41:05 pm »
Those were the days.  We had a sales man (RIP) who lived though it all.  He would tell stories of selling HD upgrades to customers, doubling their capacity to ?20MB.  It was just a matter of changing a few jumpers in the unit.  The engineer would be sent to the customer with strict instructions to take all day on job.  The customer would we happy they bought an upgradeable system. Saving money.  And he was happy with his commission from the £30k the upgrade cost.
 

Offline duak

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2018, 11:16:45 am »
I got an 8", 5 Mbyte Shugart with SASI controller for my home computer in late 1980.  Got it running CP/M over the holiday break.  It had two problems: one of the digital chips on the controller was sensitive to temperature.  The second was that there were soft errors on the inner cylinders caused when the controller was mounted on the drive.  It was a lot faster than floppies and, for that time, had virtually limitless storage.

The first big disk I worked with was a 300 MB wini that emulated some DEC device way back in 1983.  I think it might have been an 8" CDC with an Emulex interface board.  The computer was a DEC LSI-11 running RT-11.  RT-11 couldn't handle logical drives bigger than 32 Mbyte so the physical drive was divided into a number of smaller logical drives.  RT-11 allocated file data blocks sequentially - there was no FAT or inode table.  Unfortunately, there was at least one bad block in each logical drive so the maximum length of a file varied between the logical drives.  I started working on modifications to the disk driver to not just mark the bad block out, but skip over it so the files could be lengthened.  We were stuck with RT-11 because it was the fastest and most efficient OS for the LSI-11.  CP/M wouldn't have had this problem as it allocated blocks randomly.





 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2019, 05:01:44 pm »
...
When the IBM PC/XT came out, it shipped with a 10MB MFM hard disk, with drive sizes increasing throughout the 1980's, but even until PCs really entered into the home in the late 80's, I'd imagine you'd still find people with their C64s, Atari 400/800s, or even Amiga/STs without any sort of hard disk storage whatsoever.
...

Audio cassette storage was common for C64, Atari, etc.  For the more serious users, floppies.

I recall the big jump occur when IBM introduced the PS/2 - introduced with 120mb (model 50) 200mb (model 70)hdd when the AT and compatibles were 10-20mb.  At the time, I thought 200mb with the Model 70 was so over the top - who would have so much to store on a PC, I thought...

EDIT - Adding this interesting side-note (about storage during late IBM AT / early IBM PS/2 time):
I was at my then girl-friend's office (now she is my wife).  She was xeroxing some paper work.  One page fell and I pick it up.  It was for a 1gb disk drive for a client on a UNIX machine: $45,000!  That was before adding installation charges.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 05:10:36 pm by Rick Law »
 

Online james_s

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2019, 08:17:37 pm »
My dad bought one of the early IBM PCs, it came with no hard drive but some time later he added a 20MB drive on a card that plugged into a slot, seems like that was about a $1500 upgrade in the early 80s. Up into the late 80s I still knew people with C64s, Atari 800, Mac Plus that had no hard drive at all. Even people who had hard drives back then typically had a lot of programs and data stored on floppies.
 

Offline rbm

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 08:54:09 pm »
Yes, the first drives supplied in the IBM PCs in 1980's were 5" full-height 10MB, standard off-the-shelf Seagate ST506 units.

I joined IBM in 1978 and worked in Quality Assurance in the Toronto plant where PCs were assembled.  We were responsible for selecting random samples from the assembly line, and testing for lifetime and early life failures. I built the test jigs for housing drives that were exercised for various functions (seq. and random seek, R/W, etc.) at full operating temperature extremes.  Failed drives were dissected to determine the failure mode and information was fed back to the drive manufacturer for improvements.  Great job for an engineer straight out of school.
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Online jmelson

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2019, 07:12:13 am »
I got a 10 MB 2-platter Winchester drive from Memorex in about 1980.  It was through an ad in one of the electronics magazines, drive and SASI controller for $1600.
Certainly a no-brainer.  I built a simple byte-wide parallel interface to the SASI bus, and wrote a driver for my Z-80 CP/M system.  Nobody else I knew had a hard drive on their home computer for a LONG time after that.

Jon
 

Offline Heartbreaker

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2019, 09:13:14 pm »
My dad bought one of the early IBM PCs, it came with no hard drive but some time later he added a 20MB drive on a card that plugged into a slot, seems like that was about a $1500 upgrade in the early 80s.

That brings back some old memories, I have forgotten all about hardcards. The hybrid solution that combined a HDD and a (ISA) controller as one assembly that could be inserted into an expansion slot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardcard
 

Online james_s

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2019, 08:32:11 am »
I think the one my dad had was a Western Digital, it was more clunky than the sleek Hardcard units but the PC had only 5 slots so the drive could hang over into dead space.
 

Offline Stray Electron

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2019, 11:15:34 am »
Yes, the first drives supplied in the IBM PCs in 1980's were 5" full-height 10MB, standard off-the-shelf Seagate ST506 units.

I joined IBM in 1978 and worked in Quality Assurance in the Toronto plant where PCs were assembled.  We were responsible for selecting random samples from the assembly line, and testing for lifetime and early life failures. I built the test jigs for housing drives that were exercised for various functions (seq. and random seek, R/W, etc.) at full operating temperature extremes.  Failed drives were dissected to determine the failure mode and information was fed back to the drive manufacturer for improvements.  Great job for an engineer straight out of school.

   I still have three of the ST-506 drives that are NIB.  I found them about ten years after they were obseleted but I thought that they were too historic to simply be thrown out so I bought them and stored them away. One of these days I think that I'll get them out and see if they still work.  Assuming that I still have a controller card (I think I do.)  My first hard drive in a PC was a then brand new technology 32Mb RLL drive.  The drive itself was a standard Seagate 20 MB (ST-225 I think) but the RLL encoding allowed it to store a whopping 32Mb of data.  After using 360k floppies it seemed like an infinity of drive space. I installed very piece of software that I then owned and still had about 29Mb free. I sold that computer with the drive years later and I never did come close to filling it up.
 

Online james_s

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2019, 12:14:45 pm »
That's pretty cool! NOS ST-506 drives are a rare thing these days, I bet a lot of collectors would love to find something like that.
 

Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2019, 01:03:29 pm »
Does anybody know the background for the HD moniker “Winchester”?

Someone had explained it too me many, many moons ago. It was somehow related to the caliber of the famous rifle, but can’t remember the complete story.
 

Online helius

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2019, 02:42:45 pm »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_IBM_magnetic_disk_drives#IBM_3340
The significance of a particular code name of IBM DASD was its ability to land the head on the disk surface when it spun down. Contemporary drives had emergency head retract devices to prevent the heads from crashing when they lost lift force. This was universally adopted in later models, and is the reason the IBM PC BIOS has a Landing Zone Cylinder (LZ) parameter.
 
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Offline darrellg

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2019, 05:22:48 am »
Does anybody know the background for the HD moniker “Winchester”?

Someone had explained it too me many, many moons ago. It was somehow related to the caliber of the famous rifle, but can’t remember the complete story.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_IBM_magnetic_disk_drives#IBM_3340:
Quote
The 3340 was developed in San Jose under the leadership of Ken Haughton. Early on the design was focused on two removable 30 megabyte modules. Because of this 30/30 configuration, the code name Winchester was selected after the famous Winchester .30-30 rifle; subsequently the capacities were increased, but the code name stuck.
 
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Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2019, 03:18:25 pm »
in the late 80's, I'd imagine you'd still find people with their C64s, Atari 400/800s, or even Amiga/STs without any sort of hard disk storage whatsoever.


I was in high school at the time, and simply adding a 3.5" floppy to my C64 system was like a hard disk... 880K on a disk? Madness!

Although flipping through the magazines of the time I'd often see ads for things like the bizarre SFD-1001, a one megabyte 5.25" IEEE drive, or the monstrous 9060 hard drive
http://www.mos6502.com/friday-commodore/strange-peripherals-commodore-hard-drives/

or the exotic Lt Kernal

http://www.mos6502.com/friday-commodore/strange-peripherals-the-lt-kernal-hard-drive/

all wayyy out of reach, both price-wise and physically, none of these things were in a local store as far as I knew when I was a kid...

My first Amiga, a 1000, was a strictly dual floppy affair. Only on my 2000 did I get a hard disk, an exciting time!
 

Online james_s

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2019, 03:35:41 pm »
I remember in the mid 90s seeing an ad for a 1GB 5.25" FH SCSI hard drive for around $1300 and thinking how awesome it would be to have a whole gigabyte of space. I could install every game I'd ever want!

Now you can get several times that on a micro SD card for 10 bucks.
 

Online Nusa

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2019, 08:49:16 pm »
Back about 1976, I was doing stuff with a TI-980 minicomputer that had an IBM 2315 disk cartridge that held about 1 MB. The cold-boot procedure was to toggle in about a 20 word program that read the paper tape reader attached to the TTY. The paper tape loop loaded a program that read the first sector on the disk, which in turn loaded a simple operating system that gave you a TTY console to work with. Anything that was important enough to back up for reuse was printed on paper tape.

This was a university setting, not industrial, so the programs weren't that important in most cases. It was about the learning.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 08:52:59 pm by Nusa »
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2019, 08:38:52 pm »
I remember in the mid 90s seeing an ad for a 1GB 5.25" FH SCSI hard drive for around $1300 and thinking how awesome it would be to have a whole gigabyte of space.

I had one.

Around 1996, as I was finishing my degree, my desktop computer was an Acorn A5000. It had a 25 MHz ARM processor, 4 MB of RAM, and an internal IDE hard disc of 120 MB (which was generall reckoned to be plenty big enough at the time).

A friend of mine had been working at a company which did video rendering for movies. They obviously had a need for as much storage as was commercially viable, and they'd been using an array of 1.2GB SCSI drives as a frame store. They'd recently upgraded (to 9 GB drives, IIRC) and were selling off the old drives.

This thing was as big as a shoe box, and it needed a case and power supply. The cheapest way I could find to do this was to buy a PC case and install it there, with the SCSI cables poking out the back. Powering it up sounded like a jet aircraft taking off.

To make it work I also had to buy a SCSI interface, which came with a driver (in ROM, of course) that could handle large drives by partitioning them into chunks of the maximum supported size of 512 MB. I ended up with three logical SCSI drives, two 512 MB and one 256 MB, plus the original 120 MB internal drive.

Bulky? Yes. Noisy? Sure! But *so* much storage, especially on a platform where bloatware didn't exist, the OS was on ROM, and most software was delivered on 800k floppy discs.

I never filled it. Not even close!
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2019, 02:58:21 am »
Around 1996
IDE hard disc of 120 MB (which was generall reckoned to be plenty big enough at the time).
Bulky? Yes. Noisy? Sure! But *so* much storage

you sure you didnt mean ~1989-92?
in 1996 standard boring PCs came with Pentium 100-200MHz, 8-16MB ram and 1GB drives
and thats eastern europe http://www.wykop.pl/ramka/3682653/gazetka-vobis-z-1-wrzesnia-1996-roku/
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Online ebastler

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Re: Think all the early pre-IBM PC hard drives were 5-10MB tops?
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2019, 03:33:53 am »
Around 1996
IDE hard disc of 120 MB (which was generall reckoned to be plenty big enough at the time).
Bulky? Yes. Noisy? Sure! But *so* much storage

you sure you didnt mean ~1989-92?
in 1996 standard boring PCs came with Pentium 100-200MHz, 8-16MB ram and 1GB drives
and thats eastern europe http://www.wykop.pl/ramka/3682653/gazetka-vobis-z-1-wrzesnia-1996-roku/

Well, AndyC did not mention how long he had already owned that computer in 1996!  ;)
Also, you misquoted him: The "bulky, noisy, so much storage" comment was referring to a 1.2GB SCSI drive which he added to that machine in 1996.
 


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