the dawn of time, man has tried to record important events and techniques
for everyday life. At first, it was sufficient to paint on the family
cave wall how one hunted. Then came the people who invented spoken
languages and the need arose to record what one was saying without
hearing it firsthand. Therefore, years later, more early scholars
invented writing to convey what was being said. Pictures gave way
to letters which represented spoken sounds. Eventually clay tablets
gave way to parchment, which gave way to paper. Paper was, and still
is, the main way people convey information. However, in the mid
twentieth century computers began to come into general use .
gone through their own evolution in storage media. In the forties,
fifties, and sixties, everyone who took a computer course used punched
cards to give the computer information and store data. In 1956,
researchers at IBM developed the first disk storage system. This
was called RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control)
Since the days of punch cards, computer manufacturers have strived
to squeeze more data into smaller spaces. That mission has produced
both competing and complementary data storage technology including
electronic circuits, magnetic media like hard disks and tape, and
optical media such as compact disks.
constantly push the limits of these technologies to improve their
speed, reliability, and throughput -- all while reducing cost. The
fastest and most expensive storage technology today is based on
electronic storage in a circuit such as a solid state "disk
drive" or flash RAM. This technology is getting faster and
is able to store more information thanks to improved circuit manufacturing
techniques that shrink the sizes of the chip features. Plans are
underway for putting up to a gigabyte of data onto a single chip.
technologies used for most computer hard disks are the most common
and provide the best value for fast access to a large storage space.
At the low end, disk drives cost as little as 25 cents per and provide
access time to data in ten milliseconds. Drives can be ganged to
improve reliability or throughput in a Redundant Array of Inexpensive
Disks (RAID). Magnetic tape is somewhat slower than disk, but it
is significantly cheaper per megabyte. At the high end, manufacturers
are starting to ship tapes that hold 40 gigabytes of data. These
can be arrayed together into a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Tapes
(RAIT), if the throughput needs to be increased beyond the capability
of one drive.
accessible removable storage, manufacturers are beginning to ship
low-cost cartridges that combine the speed and random access of
a hard drive with the low cost of tape. These drives can store from
100 megabytes to more than one gigabyte per cartridge.
disks are also gaining a reputation as an incredibly cheap way of
delivering data to desktops. They are the cheapest distribution
medium around when purchased in large quantities ($1 per 650 megabyte
disk). This explains why so much software is sold on CD-ROM today.
With desktop CD-ROM recorders, individuals are able to publish their
methods fast approaching their limits, it is no wonder that a number
of new storage technologies are developing. Currently, researches
are looking at protien-based memory to compete with the speed of
electronic memory, the reliability of magnetic hard-disks, and the
capacities of optical/magnetic storage. We contend that three-dimensional
optical memory devices made from bacteriorhodopsin utilizing the
two photon read and write-method is such a technology with which
the future of memory lies.
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