Even today, whether it’s by loss, theft, or fire, having your laptop—along with your irreplaceable files—abruptly vanish is something that few of us would like to contemplate. The obvious solution is to protect your data. then stash it somewhere safe—like on a portable hard drive.

For all its computational wonder, the first gigabyte hard drive wasn’t what you’d call portable—the 1980 JIB 3380 clocked in at 550 pounds.

But hard drives are one of the fastest evolving technologies, with capacity doubling every year or two. The granddaddy of the device is Rey Johnson, who was put in charge of a West Coast IBM unit in 1952, a time when the common belief was that 17 or 18 computers would be all the market could bear.

Developing a magnetic storage machine was among his crew’s first challenges (others included creating a non impact printer and a test-scoring machine).

Enter the IBM 2311 in 1964, which could store 7.25 megabytes on a removable disk pack. Like its predecessors, it was far bigger than what we would consider a disk drive today. But unlike the others before it, this offered an electrical connection, making it possible to plug in to different computers.


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