How-To Geek

1980 to 2010 – 8 IBM 3380 Disk Systems versus 1 MicroSD Card [Image]

Ah…the wonders and joy of technological progress…

Progress… [via Reddit SYSADMIN]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 02/24/12

Comments (29)

  1. Ray

    Quite a difference.

  2. mike

    so our computers gotten smaller and we’ve gotten bigger. interesting

  3. Anonymous

    $100 to $150 dollars? Are you kidding me?!

    I did a very quick search on Walmart – yes, that wonderful local business killing monopoly Wally World – and found at least five SD cards for UNDER $50. I even found one CF card in that group too. All of them were 32GB. And when I went searching for 32GB micro-SD cards like the ones in the picture I could only find one that was over $50 – it was $50.98.

    In fact, I found a Transcend – 64GB Secure Digital XC (SDXC) Class 10 Memory Card that’s twice the capacity (of 32GB) and was still under the low range of $100. It was retail priced at $79.99 at Best Buy.

    So when I see prices of $100 to $150 for 32GB memory cards I just have to wonder, who is doing the shopping? Or, where is this data coming from?

    (This info was posted on 2/24/12. So if prices are going to be quoted can they at least be within the last year or perhaps tell us when those prices were looked at? That’s not asking too much, is it?)

  4. Steve-O-Rama

    I ♥ living in the future.

    Then again, looking at the years shown makes me feel so darn old. lol

  5. IrishIT

    ^You Mad Bro?

  6. Pancho


    Just shut up. No one cares about what you say

  7. Um...

    @Anonymous, the headline clearly states “1980 – 2010”. It is currently 2012 in this dimension. Of course prices have dropped in the past 2 years.

  8. kieran

    You contributed nothing only useless information, I think you totaly missed the point here.
    if you compare $640,000 to $50 or even $500 it is still a huge difference.

    Good piece of research here.

  9. Urichhai

    @ Anonymous

    So happy you can Google, and really who cares? Not longa ago they were around that price.

  10. BlackHoleSun

    Anonymous: “(This info was posted on 2/24/12. So if prices are going to be quoted can they at least be within the last year or perhaps tell us when those prices were looked at? That’s not asking too much, is it?)”

    Uhhh, try reading the title of the article if you want to throw dates around, it clearly shows “1980 to 2010”, so I’m sure 2 years ago they were at those prices.

  11. Ivan Gonzalez

    I remember those IBM 3380 drives, you forgot to mention that is also took half a room spacewise
    and were over 7 feet tall each unit. How technology has changed

  12. K@RiS

    Play nice guys!

  13. r

    0.5 grams (0.001 pounds)? Are you kidding me?!…

  14. MJKep

    Can’t wait what the next five years will bring…

  15. survak

    ah I remember the old IBM System 36 big expensive and slow but oh so much fun but back then we networked compaqs running win 3.1 to them ah happy happy days

  16. Mr Scott

    Those were the drives to be had at the time. And at that time PCs were just starting out and had a 20 Mb drive. Still PCs have only one connection to a the drive while the 3380’s had four and a 3.0 Mb transfer rate.

  17. buddyboy9

    Must of been a huge slot!

  18. DWB

    Yikes, this is like comparing an ocean liner to a rubber raft. You don’t cross the ocean in a rubber raft. Data pipe, speed, longevity and reliability. You get what you pay for.

  19. Tim

    Yeah, DWB, you got that right. People used to say that Big Iron (IBM, Hitachi, etc) was going to disappear when the PC took off in the late 80s. I always told them it wasn’t going to happen – Big Iron was always going to be around because they could do I/O better than anyone, especially IBM. I used to work with a guy who helped develop the original airline reservation system. He told me how they took the channel controllers out and replaced them with imbedded 360/20s to get the I/O rates they needed. IIRC their goal was 1,000 requests per second, with 80% response within 5 seconds. Pretty good goal for 1960s systems.

  20. Durward

    What about the computers from 1980 to 2012: CPU speed, core memory size, auxiliary memory size, physical size?

  21. magoogie

    Not only were the IBM 3330 and 3380 disk systems enormous and expensive, as has been noted, but they required vast amounts of electricity to run and tons of air conditioning to compensate for the heat that they generated.

  22. Art Smith

    @tim: I was tangentially involved in the original IBM study of airline res. systems in the late 1950s and early 1960s. (This was before the 360s, which were announced in 1964.) The BIG question was transaction volume for reservations. To answer that question, we need to know what the peak phone call volume was and when it hit. The study and survey at American Airlines really surprised a lot of us (including yours truly). The peak was noon to 1pm, on the day before Thanksgiving Day. We had thought it wold be wrapped around Christmas, but nope. We were wrong.

    I sold the 1401 and 1440 plus a lot of unit record new accounts. The unit record machines were the punched card machines–key punches, sorters, tabulating machines, etc. I still remember sitting on the living room floor watching TV and wiring the control panel for an IBM 402!

  23. JEB

    I bought a 32 GB card for $26!

  24. Victor Ward

    I worked with these at an oil company in Aberdeen, Scotland and remember them very well. They were quite noisy and sometimes scary when the read heads made a quick move to find the right track. Even better was when one would crash, what a noise that made!

  25. ExTexan

    I worked for Xerox in the early 1980’s and did backups daily for our Star systems (the first workstation to use GUI on a large screen with icons connected by Ethernet cables). The backup system consisted of 4 large washing machine sized units containing 14″ multiple platters. Each unit stored 300 Megabytes, yes 300 MG.

  26. Set271

    What’s more interesting to me is when they had file compression tools. Imagine the size of each file as if they were comparable to today’s file containers. One DVD movie(I know, I know, they’re old even) at 3 to 7GB…they could fit maybe five per cabinet.

    An aside(to brag): I’ve helped install acres and acres of modern cabinets where each seven foot tall cabinet held fifty to two hundred Peta-bytes of hard drives. The Bush administration was planning to support the HSA need for data storage and large corporations got huge tax breaks/corporate grants/stimulus money to build huge server farms all over the country…all certified repositories for the —-agon to dump to if they needed it. Wall Street, too. McGraw-Hill and Bristol-Meyers Squibb took advantage of that money and I worked in three of them. That last Die Hard movie wasn’t too far off the mark, just multiply by like fifty facilities.

  27. Tim


    I worked at a regional insurance company in the late 70’s. They had an IBM 370/135 with 512K of core memory. There were four of the big tape drives with the vacuum columns, and several disk drives of various sizes. They ran DOS/VS and used five partitions: CICS, POWER, a development partition, and two for batch jobs. There was a huge a/c unit that kept the room at 68, and almost everything ran off of 208V three phase. There was a nice warm table-sized motor/generator unit next to the CPU cabinet that turned the 208V 60 cycle into 400 cycle for the main cabinet. 400 cycle requires smaller transformers and less filtration (lots smaller capacitors!) than 60 cycle. I can remember going over to the motor/generator and sitting on it to warm up when I got too chilled (my team’s work area was in the computer room). When I think back on it now, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind: “The wonder of a dancing bear isn’t how well it dances, but that it dances at all!” 10 pts for attribution! :-)

  28. Thomas

    Interesting to see the size difference, but what’s really interesting is to know what you could do at the time with 20Gb. At work, our SAN storage today looks more like the the IBM 3380 than the SD card

  29. PC Doctor Edward

    How the technology has got smaller, cheaper, faster but the issues have not changed … when did we last do a backup!

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