From Paper Tape to Data Sticks: The Evolution of Removable Storage

Over the years, people have tried to transfer information from one computer to another in a dizzying number of ways. Here's a look at some of the best, along with others that time forgot

Magneto-Optical Storage

Like CDs, magneto-optical (MO) discs are designed to be read optically with a laser. But unlike CDs, which users can't write to at all, and CD-Rs, which users can write to only once, most MO discs permit the user to write and erase data on a disc multiple times. They accomplish this by means of a special magnetic process that works in conjunction with a laser to store data. The first widely known magneto-optical drive shipped with the NeXT Computer (1988, lower right) and used 256MB rewritable media. The best-known MO format is the Sony MiniDisc (top middle, 1992), an audio medium that also has a less popular computer-capable cousin known as MD-DATA (upper left). Various MO drives and discs remain in production, but their relatively low capacity and relatively high cost make them niche products.

Photos: Sony/NeXT/Verbatim

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