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In 1956, Computer Technology Belonged in an Airplane's Cargo Hold

January 7, 2013 at 10:48 AM | by | ()

Last night, by an open-air fire pit in Palm Springs, we met a man who had lost his lighter. He had owned it for 32 years, a present from an ex-girlfriend, he said. Sure, he later found it had slipped underneath his drivers seat, but still it got us to thinking. Here's a basic accessory of function—a lighter—and, next to us, our iPhone on which we basically run our lives. How many years does the latter last? Two? If we're lucky.

All of this leads us to show you the photo above, which has made its way around the internet this past week as it does about once a year. It's an incredible image that falls in the annals of both technology and aviation history as it's a 5MB hard drive being loaded onto a Pan Am plane in 1956. it weighs one ton.

Although there's no details with the photo on how much this hulking monster of early computing costs or where it was heading, it's pretty safe to say it's a huge novelty for the crew, who look down in awe at the forklift and its load. Happily we have also advanced in our airline cargo technology.

As for the price, we think a commenter on this Trackforum gives some shocking perspective: "My current computer has 6 gig of RAM which would cost about 6 million dollars in 1987 RAM prices." That's no lighter, sure, but still we wonder how long this huge 1956 5MB investment lasted for the company who once excitedly awaited its arrival.

[Photo: Retronaut]

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