Storage The Old Fashioned Way, On a Drum

Burroughs drum storage 

Today when people talk about storage you hear megabytes, gigabytes, sometimes even terabytes. Luxury. Back in 1957 you had to make do with 4000 words of storage on a big old spinning drum.  Each word was made up of 10 decimal digits and one additional digit that was used for marking if it was an algebraic expression or an instruction. Each digit is made up of a four bit binary number (called a ‘nibble‘ now days). This gives you about 20KB of storage in today’s world. This was pretty major storage back then. I can’t help but think that this kind of old computer technology couldn’t be used in making simple robots, or even some sort of LEGO device. I think it’s pretty cool none the less. You can see more of the venerable Burroughs computer manuals here at the  Department of Computer Science (University of Virginia) Historical Computer Literature page.

Burroughs 205 Central Computer Handbook