Information carriers: types and examples

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Information carriers: types and examples
Information carriers: types and examples

Human civilization during its existence has found many ways to record information. Every year its volumes grow exponentially. For this reason, carriers also change. It is this evolution that will be discussed below.

Relics of the past

information carriers
information carriers

The most ancient monuments of human activity can be considered rock paintings, which depicted animals that were the targets of hunting. The first material carriers of information were of natural origin.

The appearance of writing among the Sumerians, who lived in modern Iraq and used not stone, but clay tablets, which were fired after writing, can be considered a real breakthrough. Thus, their safety increased significantly. However, the rate at which knowledge was recorded was extremely slow.

You can also note the Egyptian papyrus, wax, skins, on which they first began to write in Persia. In Asia, bamboo and silk were used. The ancient Indians had a unique knot writing system. In Russia, birch bark was in use, which archaeologists still find today.


paperinformation carriers
paperinformation carriers

Paper media have made a revolution, the scale of which is difficult to overestimate. Despite the fact that the first analogues of cellulose material were obtained by the Chinese in the 2nd century, it became publicly available only in the 19th century.

The appearance of books is connected with paper. In the 1450s, the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a manual printing press with which he printed two copies of the Bible. These events served as a starting point for a new era of mass printing. It was thanks to him that knowledge ceased to be the lot of a thin layer of humanity, but became available to everyone.

Today's paper is newsprint, offset, coated, etc. Its choice depends on specific purposes. And although the white canvas is in demand more than ever, it has already lost its innovative position.

Punched cards and punched tapes

external storage media
external storage media

The next impetus in its development was received by information carriers at the beginning of the 19th century, when the first cardboard punched cards appeared. In certain places, holes were placed through which data was read. The technology was originally used to control looms.

Interest in the new product increased after it was used in the USA for more convenient and quick calculation of the results of the country's census in 1890. The cards were produced by IBM, which later became a pioneer in computer technology. The heyday of technology came in the middle of the 20th century. It was then that the binary system began to spreadcalculus, systematizing and summarizing a variety of data.

The first machine storage media were also punched tapes. They were made from paper and used in telegraphs. Due to their format, the tapes allowed for easy input and output. This made them indispensable until the advent of magnetic competitors.

Magnetic tape

information carriers
information carriers

No matter how good the old external storage media were, they could not reproduce what they recorded. This problem was solved with the advent of magnetic tape. It was a flexible base, covered with several layers, on which information is recorded. Various chemical elements acted as a working medium: iron, cob alt, chromium.

Magnetic storage media made a breakthrough in sound recording. It was this innovation that allowed the new technology to quickly take root in Germany in the 30s. Former devices (phonographs, gramophones, gramophones) were mechanical in nature and were not practical. Reel-to-reel and cassette-type tape recorders are widely used.

In the 50s, attempts were made to use these developments as computer storage media. Magnetic tapes were introduced into personal computers in the 80s. Their popularity was generally due to such advantages. like large capacity, relatively cheap production and low power consumption.

The disadvantage of tapes is the expiration date. Over time, they demagnetize. At best, the datastored for 40 - 50 years. However, this did not stop the format from becoming popular all over the world. Separately, it is worth mentioning video cassettes, which flourished at the end of the 20th century. Magnetic storage media have become the basis of a new type of television and radio broadcasting.

Hard drives

computer storage media
computer storage media

Meanwhile, the development of the industry continued. Information carriers of large volume required modernization. The first hard drives or hard drives were created in 1956 by IBM. However, they were not practical. They were larger than a box and weighed nearly a ton. At the same time, the amount of stored data did not exceed 3.5 megabytes. However, in the future, the standard developed, and by 1995 the bar of 10 gigabytes was overcome. And 10 years later, Hitachi models with a capacity of 500 gigabytes appeared on sale.

Unlike their flexible counterparts, hard drives contained aluminum platters. The data is reproduced through the read heads. They do not touch the disk, but work at a distance of several nanometers from it. One way or another, the principle of operation of hard drives is similar to the characteristics of tape recorders. The main difference lies in the physical materials used to manufacture the devices. Hard drives have become the backbone of personal computers. Over time, these models began to be produced together with drives, drives and an electronics unit.

In addition to the main memory needed to hold data, hard drives have a certain amount of buffer needed to smooth out read speeds from the device.

3,5" floppy disks

At the same time, there was a movement forward in the field of small formats. Knowledge of magnetic properties came in handy when creating diskettes, the data from which were read using a special disk drive. The first such analogue was introduced by IBM in 1971. The recording density on such information carriers was up to 3 megabytes. The basis of the floppy disk was a flexible disk, covered with a special layer of ferromagnets.

The main achievement - the reduction in the physical size of the media - has made this format the main one on the market for a quarter of a century. In the US alone in the 80s, up to 300 million new floppy disks were produced annually.

Despite a lot of advantages, the novelty also had disadvantages - sensitivity to magnetic influence and low capacity compared to the ever-increasing needs of an ordinary computer user.


information carriers
information carriers

CDs were the first generation of optical media. Records were also their prototype. However, new external storage media were made from polycarbonate. A disc made of this substance received the thinnest metal coating (gold, silver, aluminum). To protect data, it was covered with a special varnish.

The notorious CD was developed by Sony and put into mass production in 1982. First of all, the format gained wild popularity due to convenient sound recording. A volume of several hundred megabytes made it possible to displace first vinyl players, and then tape recorders. If the former were inferior in the amount of information, then the latterhad the worst sound quality. In addition, the new format sent floppies into the past, which not only held less data, but were also not very reliable.

Compact discs have revolutionized the personal computer. Over time, all the giants of the industry (for example, Apple) switched to the production of PCs along with drives that support the CD format.

DVD and Blue-Ray

Optical information carriers of the first generation did not last long on the Olympus of data storage. In 1996, a DVD appeared, which was six times larger than its ancestor. The new standard made it possible to record longer videos. The film industry quickly adapted to it. Movies on DVD have become publicly available around the world. The principle of operation and encoding of information remains the same compared to CDs.

Finally, in 2006, a new, to date, latest optical storage medium format was launched. The volume began to amount to hundreds of gigabytes. This ensures better audio and video recording quality.

Format Wars

Over the past few years, conflicts between incompatible formats for storing information have become more frequent. External media from different manufacturers at the next round of industry development compete with each other for a monopoly in the format.

One of the first such examples is the conflict between Edison's phonograph and Berliner's gramophone in the 10s of the XX century. Subsequently, similar disputes arose between compact cassettes and 8-track audio cassettes; VHS and Betamax; MP3 and AAC etc. Latest in thisIn a row, there was a "war" between HD DVD and Blue-Ray, which ended in the victory of the latter.

Flash drives

information carriers
information carriers

Examples of storage media cannot do without mentioning USB flash drives. The first Universal Serial Bus was developed in the mid 90s. To date, there is already the third generation of this data interface. The bus allows you to connect a peripheral device to a personal computer. And although this problem existed long before the advent of USB, it was only solved in the last decade.

Today, every computer has a recognizable socket, with which you can connect a mobile phone, player, tablet, etc. to the computer. Fast data transfer of any format has made USB a truly universal tool.

The most popular on the basis of this interface are flash drives or, in common parlance, flash drives. Such a device has a USB connector, a microcontroller, a microcircuit, a quartz resonator and an LED. All these details made it possible to keep gigabytes of information in one pocket. In terms of size, a flash drive is inferior even to floppy disks that had a volume of 3 megabytes. At times, the volume of devices where information is stored has increased. Storage media, on the other hand, tend to shrink physically.

The versatility of the connector allows the drives to work not only with personal computers, but also with TVs, DVD players and other devices with USB technology. Huge advantage incompared with optical analogues, there is less susceptibility to external influences. A flash drive is not afraid of scratches and dust, which were a deadly threat to CDs.

Virtual Reality

In recent years, computer storage media are losing ground to a virtual alternative. Since today it is easy to connect a PC to the Global Network, information is stored on shared servers. The amenities are undeniable. Now, in order to access their files, the user does not need physical media at all. To interact with data from a distance, it is enough to be in the range of a wireless Wi-Fi connection, etc.

In addition, this phenomenon helps to avoid misunderstandings with the failure of physical drives that are vulnerable to damage. Remote servers connected to by the signal will not be affected, and in case of unforeseen situations, there are backup data stores.


Throughout history - from rock paintings to virtual bits - man has sought to make information media more voluminous, more reliable and more accessible. This desire has led to the fact that today we live in an era that is not without reason called the age of the information society. Progress has reached the point that now people in their daily lives simply choke in the flow of data. Perhaps information carriers, the types of which are multiplying, will radically change, according to the requirements of modern man.

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