THE HISTORY of COMPUTER DATA STORAGE

IBM Punch Card (1937)

In 1881, Herman Hollerith, who would later form IBM, designed a paper punch machine to tabulate census data. It had taken the U.S. Census Bureau eight years to complete the 1880 census, but thanks to Hollerith's invention, that time was reduced to just one year. By 1937, IBM was processing up to 10 million punch cards each day. The paper-based storage medium remained prominent up until the 1970s before giving way to magnetic tape.

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Paper Tape

Punched tape or perforated paper tape were similar to punch cards because paper tape contained patterns of holes to represent recorded data. But unlike its rigid counterpart, rolls of paper tape could feed much more data in one continuous stream, and it was incredibly cheap to boot. The same couldn't be said for the hardware involved. In 1966, HP introduced the 2753A Tape Punch, which boasted a blistering fast tape punch speed of 120 characters per second and sold for $4,150.