Feeds

What ever happened to storing pics with electron cannons?

Blue Blue's digital photo beam

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Electron cannon!

IBM's Almaden laboratory in Silicon Valley had previously worked on system using a similar photo-storage concept for the CIA during the 1950s to store the agency's sizable library of microfilm documents. IBM peddled the idea to the Atomic Energy folk and they liked it. IBM was offered a $2.1m contract for two machines: one at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and the other at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Later, two more systems were ordered for the National Security Agency and one for the Los Alamos National Lab.

The IBM 1360 had four main units: the data controller, the photo-digital recorder, the photo-digital reader, and the cell file and control. With more cell file units, a system could be expanded to store about two trillion bits of data.

Photo-Digital Recorder unit

Cell File and Control unit

Inside the knickknack-cabinet-looking cell file and control unit was stored data written on small pieces of high-resolution photographic film called "chips." About five million bits (~0.59MB) could be burned into a single chip, each one measuring 1.3 x 2.7 inches (3cm x 6.86cm).

Data was recorded on the chips using a concentrated beam of electrons shot from tungsten filaments in the turret of the Photo-Digital Storage system's internal electron gun. Individual blank chips were positioned in a vacuum chamber, then data sent from a host computer was recorded by sweeps of the beam across the chip surface. Dark and clear spots scored on the chip corresponded with binary ones and zeros. Each chip was divided into 32 frames containing 300 lines with 300 bits per line. The 1360 would record data one frame at a time at a rate of about a half million bits per second.

The electron beam-painted chips would then be developed inside the machine using developer, stop, and fix chemicals stored in the recorder unit. After processing, the chips were packed into protective plastic "cells," (which are about the size of a pack of cigarettes) and sent to the storage unit's cabinets by way of a pneumatic blower system made for two-way travel.

Inside the cabinet

Host in the cell

When data was read, it was sucked from its cabinet into a reader station. A robo-arm then held the cell in front of a scanner which would process the bits.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: Electron cannon!

More from The Register

next story
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.