A Brief History of Computer Backup Systems
We’ve talked Backup before, but what do you know about how it all started, and how far it has come? Here’s your chance to shine, history buffs! A good Maya Angelou quote fits into today’s topic: “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”
So where exactly HAVE we been? Lets dive into the past and find out! Buckle your seat belts and lets TIME TRAVEL!
Its 1951, The UNIVAC I (The first computer EVER) by Mauchly and Eckert has just been released, and punch cards told the computer all the data that needed stored internally or externally. There were extra copies made of these punch cards, in case they were damaged, lost, or stolen… this, technically, was the first form of a computer ‘Backup’. Same logic, old format. Not valid for today’s systems, so it has been retired.
Magnetic Tape Backups
Fast Forward to the 60’s, and punch cards are taking up TONS of space, because there’s all this data to store and only so many safe places to put it. So into the market rolls Magnetic Tapes and Tape Backups. Tape backups caught on quickly, since one roll of tape, convenient to store, could hold the same as 10,000 punch cards. But here’s their biggest fault, We know now that these have been GUARANTEED TO FAIL. They are old tech, and while they had a good run, their time is quickly coming to an end, though some people have yet to make the switch.
An early Hard Drive
Around the same time as these Tape Backups came out, Hard Drives started appearing in computers. The problem is, that this early in the game (60’s and 70’s), they are big, heavy, and EXPENSIVE. No one could afford a ‘backup’ hard drive until much later.
8″, 5.25″ and 3.5″ floppy disks
Floppy Discs came in not long after those Hard Drives and Magnetic Tapes. They started off in 1969, as a read only 8” version with 80KB of data, but some still preferred their Magnetic Tapes. Then came 1973 and the Rewritable floppy at 256KB, and then it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that you could store 250MB on a 3” Floppy Disc. Some used floppy discs, some kept with their tapes. Small business and residential users found floppy discs more their style than these big reels of magnetic tape, since they were cheaper and handier than the other options at the time.
The biggest problem for many with the floppy discs was its limited capacity… and since we all know how supply and demand works, a new generation of disks was born… CDs both R (Recordable) & RW (Re-writeable) were released as the newest form of storage, taking storage to a new level, but they didn’t catch on until the 1990’s since they were less cost effective than a floppy disc.
CDs & DVDs
What changed in the 90’s that caused almost everything to become more available to the average person? Computers standardized, becoming cheaper, and even started coming with CD-RW Drives pre-installed into them, which lowered the cost of the discs considerably as well.
USB Backup Drives
It’s now 1998, and Flash(USB) Drives are being introduced into the market, and they caught on almost instantly. The smaller ones still hold more than your 3” floppy disc. I’ve recently seen Costco displaying (2) 64GB flash drives for less than $30! Why did they catch on so fast? They were compact, powerful, cost-effective, and they were also easier to transport when you needed to move your data. I would venture a guess that you’ve probably used these more than once in your life for something or other in the recent past.
The next generation we saw since the Flash Drive is the Blue-ray or HD-DVD disc. Most people encounter this drive when they buy their movies, because it can store more data, ranging between 23 GB and 54 GB, which allows better quality of movies, but they can also be used to store higher amounts of data in a disc backup. These started in 2006 and have been thriving.
Now we are getting back to present technologies, with Local Network backups and Cloud based backups. We have multiple blogs on these topics, but the internet’s growth and how computers are connecting to each other closely relates to this, so I’ll try to keep this pretty simple and concise.
LAN (Local Area Network)s were created in the late 1970s and were created to provide high-speed connections between a few computes in one place or building at the same time.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) started in 1985 and was made to connect two computers over the internet so that they can share files with each other.
NAS (Network Attached Storage) systems were designed in 1992 to attach to traditional data networks and it caught on quickly. A NAS device may have multiple multi-Terabyte hard drives in one box so a whole network can be backed up. Many manufacturers added it to their service line.
SAN (Storage Area Network) is made to attach computer storage devices such as disk array controllers and tape libraries to servers, allowing backups to take place even without a hardwired connection.
Online Backup Services did not come into play until the 90’s, when the modern Internet started to take shape, allowing your backups to be stored elsewhere, making them safe from damage to your office. It is, however, sometimes not the most cost-effective way to house the data for your business.
If you stuck with us for this bout of time warp, Congratulations!
Enjoy your weekend everybody!
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