Feeds

What ever happened to storing pics with electron cannons?

Blue Blue's digital photo beam

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

This Old Box Features make the system. After all, what good is a gaming rig without superfluous neon-blue lights, an iMac without the almost-matronly lack of sharp edges, or a Verizon phone not forged by the souls of the damned upon an altar of bones?1

This old box logo

This simple and self-evident truth carries over to storage systems as well. Normally, storage is a bit of bore to yours truly - yet this column can't help but make an exception to the terrific IBM 1360 Photo-Digital Storage System for two simple reasons: 1) It has an electron cannon; and importantly 2) Sorry, stepped away for a cup of coffee. Does the system still have an electron cannon? Yes? Fantastic.

The bulky IBM 1360 includes this dangerous-sounding device for a good reason. Built in 1967, it was the first system designed from scratch to store over 1 trillion bits (~116GB). Ponder that 116GB is an OK chunk of storage even today. Then puzzle how IBM engineers built it back in the '60s. Answer: Electron cannon, silly. (highlight to reveal spoiler).

There may actually be damned souls involved here too...

Unlike storage systems of its time (and really, any since) the 1360 stored data inside cabinets stuffed with drawers of photographic film imprinted with binary data rather than the usual methods of magnetic drums, platters, or tape. The system even contained its own internal "film processing laboratory," which developed the film automatically. The film and drawers were moved about my means of pneumatic tubes and a robotic arm. Obviously, this was a very complex rig - but it worked. Of the handful of commercial systems built, three were still being used into the late 1970s.

Back 1960-way, the US Atomic Energy Commission was shopping around for a system that could store an enormous amount of data for their newfangled nuclear blast simulations. The Cold War was in high gear, and America wanted to see what devastation it could wreak in fun new ways with unprecedented accuracy.

Boost IT visibility and business value

Next page: Electron cannon!

More from The Register

next story
Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything
Enter credit card details if you want that system you bought to actually be useful
HP busts out new ProLiant Gen9 servers
Think those are cool? Wait till you get a load of our racks
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years
Did the earth move for you at VMworld – oh, OK. It just did. A lot
VMware's high-wire balancing act: EVO might drag us ALL down
Get it right, EMC, or there'll be STORAGE CIVIL WAR. Mark my words
Forrester says it's time to give up on physical storage arrays
The physical/virtual storage tipping point may just have arrived
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.