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

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Punched Paper Tape

Most of the earliest computers used spools of paper tape, which stored information via punch holes. Some early machines, like the Colossus Mark 1 (1944), operated entirely on the data fed in by the tape in real time. Later computers, like the Manchester Mark 1 (1949), read in programming from tape and stored it in a primitive type of electronic memory for later execution.

Various computers during the next three decades continued to use paper tape for both input and output, and the medium experienced a brief renaissance in the mid-1970s among personal computer hackers who were attracted to its low cost.

Photos: Ed Bilodeau (L) / Chris Pheiffer (R)

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

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