2018-09-01 16:27:26 UTC
By Mark Lantz
It should come as no surprise that recent advances in big-data analytics and artificial intelligence have created strong incentives for enterprises to amass information about every measurable aspect of their businesses. And financial regulations now require organizations to keep records for much longer periods than they had to in the past. So companies and institutions of all stripes are holding onto more and more.
Studies show [PDF] that the amount of data being recorded is increasing at 30 to 40 percent per year. At the same time, the capacity of modern hard drives, which are used to store most of this, is increasing at less than half that rate. Fortunately, much of this information doesn’t need to be accessed instantly. And for such things, magnetic tape is the perfect solution.
Seriously? Tape? The very idea may evoke images of reels rotating fitfully next to a bulky mainframe in an old movie like Desk Set or Dr. Strangelove. So, a quick reality check: Tape has never gone away!
Indeed, much of the world’s data is still kept on tape, including data for basic science, such as particle physics and radio astronomy, human heritage and national archives, major motion pictures, banking, insurance, oil exploration, and more. There is even a cadre of people (including me, trained in materials science, engineering, or physics) whose job it is to keep improving tape storage.
Tape has been around for a long while, yes, but the technology hasn’t been frozen in time. Quite the contrary. Like the hard disk and the transistor, magnetic tape has advanced enormously over the decades...
I have to say, when I saw the title, the first thing that came to mind was this classic horror short from 1975, constantly shown on HBO:
The article gives the video a new meaning!
Btw, I know for a fact that the video is scary enough to put off a 12-year-old.