1951: The Universal Automatic Computer I (UNIVAC I) is the second digital computer and the first computer used for business purposes. The 29,000-pound machine is made out of 5,200 vacuum tubes and uses punch cards to input and store data. Looks like the first computers are no better off than the average time card-punching American worker.
1952: IBM’s first magnetic tape data storage devices use 7-track tapes. One roll of magnetic tape stores about 10,000 punch cards-worth of data. This becomes the most-used data storage format until the 1980s. We’d make fun of how long it took to move on, but we’re still mourning the death of mixtapes ourselves.
1956: IBM debuts the IBM 305 RAMAC, which uses the first hard drive. The secondary storage was introduced on September 4, nine days before the actual commercial computer. The drive itself is as large as two refrigerators and stores 5 megabytes of data, costing $10,000 per megabyte. Mega-pricey.
1959: In "Sirens of Titan" Kurt Vonnegut describes a cloud “that does all the heavy thinking for everybody.” Now let’s just hope his prediction about Ice-nine ending the world doesn’t come true.
1961: IBM’s model 1311 disk drive stores two million characters on a removable disk pack. The drive is about as large as two washing machines.
1962: American psychologist and computer scientist Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider generates an idea for a global computer infrastructure through a series of memos about the “Intergalactic Computer Network.” Years later, technology experts will proclaim him the grandfather of cloud computing and storage. It’s not the sexiest title, but it’s a lot better than that of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb.
1971: The floppy disk is born when IBM unveils a read-only flexible diskette that stores 80 kilobytes of data. The actual product is disappointingly unfloppy.
1978: Sun Information Systems (later renamed Sungard Availability Systems) pioneers disaster recovery when they build a backup center in Philadelphia. No, this is not where "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia" got its name.
1979: Phillips and Sony invent the Compact Disc. It is not until 1985 that the technology is used for computer data storage through the Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM). Seriously, though, we miss mixtapes.
Pixar accidentally wipes out nearly every file
of "Toy Story 2" about 10 months into production. Fortunately, supervising technical director Galyn Susman had just become a new mom and had an entire copy of the movie on her home computer so that she could work from home. Woody and Buzz live to see another day, and movie.
1998: Israeli engineer and founder of M-Systems (now known as SanDisk) Dov Moran invents the USB flash drive. He’s inspired to do so after experiencing technical difficulties during a presentation. (Or maybe he was just unprepared and used that for an excuse.)
1999: Salesforce.com is founded in an apartment in San Francisco. The company blazes a trail for widespread cloud storage by being one of the first to provide applications through a website. The term “cloud” probably confuses people now as much as it does in 2014.
2002: Amazon Web Services provides cloud-based services such as computation, human intelligence and storage. (Not sure this start-up, Amazon, will really take off, though.)
2007: File hosting service Dropbox is founded by two MIT students, one of whom claims he got the idea after forgetting his USB flash drive too many times (which isn’t too far off from the origins of the flash drive). The company makes cloud storage a commodity.
2013: The CIA makes a $600-million deal with Amazon Web Services to build a private cloud. The CIA probably just wants free use of Amazon Prime.
2014: After 10 years of development, Acronis premieres AnyData technology, which provides protection in the virtual, physical and cloud environment. It only took us an entire decade to make your life easier. You’re welcome.