The history of hard drives dates back almost 60 years. Plextor, the global leading brand of high-performance digital storage devices, answered the customers’ needs for the replacement of aging hard-drive technology with higher speed storage with the debut of its first SSD in 2009. In response to demand for our acclaimed SSDs, PLEXTOR is undertaking an aggressive expansion program and operating in more markets worldwide. Here Plextor talks about the history of hard drives and unveil some interesting facts and figures about the evolution.


1956 – The first hard drive to use rotating magnetic plates for data storage

  • STORAGE MEDIUM: 24-inch magnetic plates (1 200 RPM)
  • ACCESS TIME: 600 ms

At that time, one hard drive with its electromechanical systems weighed near one tonne and consisted of 50 magnetic plates. They were handled by a single head. It was the main reason of extra-long data access time. IBM 350 unit could have been rented from the manufacturer with average monthly equivalent of approximately 28 thousand dollars. A hypothetical scenario of Windows 10 (64-bit) system installation on a drive would require connection of 4096 units to obtain the necessary 20 GB disk space

1970 – The first disk drive to use error correction system

  • CAPACITY: 100 MB
  • STORAGE MEDIUM: 14-inch magnetic plates (3 600 RPM)
  • ACCESS TIME: 30-55 ms

The storage medium case of IBM 3330 drive was replaceable disk modules consisting of 11 magnetic plates. It was possible to move and store them. The data transfer rate was approximately 806 KB/s. The final IBM 3330 Model 11 of 1974 cost approximately 418 thousand dollars.

1976 – The first drive with SSD characteristic – no moving, mechanical components

  • CAPACITY: From 256 KB to 2 MB
  • STORAGE MEDIUM: ferrite memory
  • ACCESS TIME: 0,75-2 ms

In the 1970s, even before first NAND flash memory modules were developed, magnetic ferrite memory was considered an attractive alternative for media using magnetic plates. Its main advantage was fast data access time. Bulk Core unit could hold up to eight memory modules, each of them having a 256 KB capacity. The basic version with a single module cost some $40 thousand. 1 TB of data would cost about $1.6 billion.

1980 -The first HDD that was able to fit in the PC enclosure

  • STORAGE MEDIUM: magnetic plates (3 600 RPM)
  • ACCESS TIME: 85 ms

The disc format comes from the 5.25″ floppy disks developed at the end of the 1970s. The drive weighed 3.2 kg and was considered as the peak of miniaturization that day. It consisted of two magnetic plates supported by four heads. It was connected to the computer through the controller. The data transfer rate was approximately 655 KB/s.

1988 – The first hard drive to use the 2.5″ format

  • STORAGE MEDIUM: magnetic plates
  • ACCESS TIME: 23 ms

PrairieTek company, that created the first hard disk suitable for use in a laptop, has not succeeded on the market and gone bankrupt in 1990. The real boom for 2.5″ hard drives occurred only during the first decade of the 21st century, when laptops became more and more popular. Today the 2.5″ format is a standard on the SSD drives market.

1995 – Usage of NAND Flash memory in the role of a reliable storage medium

  • CAPACITY: from 16 MB to 896 MB
  • STORAGE MEDIUM: NAND Flash memory
  • ACCESS TIME: below 0.1 ms

The first FFD drives (Fast Flash Drive) used the SCSI interface and had a desktop computer format of 3.5″. Because of very high prices, the FFD drives never gained popularity among ordinary PC users. They were used by the defense industry and became popular as storage medium in aircraft flight data recorders.

2007 – The first affordable and highly available hard drive with a capacity of 1 TB

  • STORAGE MEDIUM: magnetic plates (7 200 RPM)
  • ACCESS TIME: 8,5 ms

The Hitachi company was first to produce a 1 TB HDD, but was caught up by its competitors in the same year. The first drive with a capacity of 1 TB had 5 plates supported by 10 heads. In 2007 one HDD weighing 700 g had a capacity, for which in 1956 approximately 200 thousand IBM 350 drives would be required. They would weigh as much as two nuclear Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

2015 – Solid State Drives are highly available for ordinary users nowadays

  • CAPACITY: from 128 GB to 1 TB
  • STORAGE MEDIUM: different types of NAND Flash memory (MLC, SLC.TLC)
  • ACCESS TIME: below 0.1 ms

Even affordable SSD drives are several times faster than HDDs. On the market there are solid state drives using various interfaces (SATA 6 Gb/s, PCIe, M2). The most common is however the universal 2.5″ SATA, such as Plextor M6V. The boot-up of Windows 10 operating system with a SSD typically takes less than ten seconds. Games and programs installed on the SSD run faster than those installed on the HDD. Modern SSD drives are just as reliable and have a similar life cycle as HDD drives. Through the use of such technologies as PlexTurbo 3.0 in Plextor drives, you can extend their life cycle, reducing wear of flash memory cells

PLEXTOR’s award-winning products and reputation for excellence are, and will continue to be, reflections of our four fundamental values.