IBM 726 (1952)

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IBM 726 (1952)

In 1952, Big Blue introduced the IBM 726 as a new way to store computer-generated data. The system solved a key challenge of tape at the time—breakage—through the use of a "vacuum column" that created a buffer of loose tape. As a result, the relatively brittle magnetic tape could withstand the system's fast starts and stops without snapping. Tape storage has evolved in many ways since the 726 was introduced with the 701 and it remains the most cost-effective, flexible and scalable medium for high-capacity storage backup today.

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IBM 3480 Magnetic Tape Subsystem (1984)

The IBM 3480 Magnetic Tape Subsystem was a major milestone in the world of enterprise-grade data storage. IBM changed the industry-standard reel design with a brand-new "cartridge" for tape storage that was smaller, faster and offered more storage capacity.

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IBM 3495 (1992)

In 1992, IBM introduced the 3495 Tape Library Dataserver, an automated tape library that consisted of one to four IBM 3490 Magnetic Tape Drive Subsystems, a Library Manager computer, a storage enclosure, and a tape cartridge accessor robot, which features continuous robotic motion.

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IBM Magstar 3590 Tape Subsystem (1995)

By 1995, IBM made a great improvement in storage capacity by launching Magstar 3590, which offered customers that ability to compress up 60GB of data. The 3590 provided up to a hundredfold improvement in data integrity over its predecessor, the IBM 3480, and 12 times the capacity of the previous tape cartridge.

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IBM LTO (2000)

IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Seagate initiated the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology format in 2000. LTO drives are widely used with small and large computer systems, especially for backup. In 2000, this meant that systems with LTO technology could store up to 100GB of data. IBM was the first to market with LTO generation 1 tape, which is now in its fifth generation.

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IBM TS1120 (2005)

In 2005, IBM rolled out the TS1120, a next-generation enterprise tape drive with dramatic improvements in speed, capacity and compatibility. The TS1120 addresses the needs of tape customers across a broad range of computing environments.

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IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700 (2006)

The following year, in 2006, IBM releases the IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700, a family of mainframe virtual tape solutions that optimize tape processing and business continuance. Through the use of virtualization and disk cache, the TS7700 is able to operate at disk speeds while maintaining compatibility with existing tape operations.

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IBM LTFS (2010)

IBM, in 2010, creates the IBM Linear Tape File System (LTFS), a new tape specification that makes managing files on tape as easy as on disk, including support for drag-and-drop features and more.

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IBM Breaks Tape-Density Record (2010)

The same year as it created the LTFS specification, IBM broke the tape-density record. Scientists at IBM Research in Zurich, Switzerland, in cooperation with Fujifilm of Japan, recorded data onto an advanced prototype tape, at a density of 29.5 billion bits per square inch—about 39 times the areal density of today's most popular industry-standard magnetic tape. Here, IBM Fellow Evangelos Eleftheriou holds a dual-coat magnetic tape based on barium ferrite (BaFe) particles that were used to demonstrate the world record in area data density.

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IBM TS1140 (2011)

In 2011, IBM creates the fourth generation of its highly successful 3592 Enterprise Tape Drive, the IBM TS1140. The TS1140 can hold two million times more data than the 726 and is designed to provide high levels of performance, reliability and cartridge capacity.

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How Things Have Changed

In 1952, the IBM 726 tape drive held 2.3MB of storage and weighed 935 pounds. Today, the IBM TSI 140 has about 2 million times the storage capacity, at 4TB, and weighs only 12.7 pounds.

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In 1952, 16 companies and organizations were using tape storage. In 2012, 82 percent of all companies are using tape storage.

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Changing Roles

In 1952, tape was used for primary storage on mainframes.In 1962, tape was used for primary storage on mainframes.In 1972, tape was used for shared and secondary storage on mainframes.In 1982, tape was used for secondary storage on mainframes and minicomputers.In 1992, tape was used for secondary storage on mainframes and networks.In 2002, tape was used for data center backup and archiving.In 2012, tape was used for data center backup and archiving, and for secondary storage for big data.

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The Current Breakdown

More than 400 exabytes of data reside in tape storage systems today. That would be equivalent to the amount of data in 20 million Libraries of Congress.

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