I came across the video above today. It is a IBM documentary film about the development of the disk drive. This effort began in 1952 in San Jose, CA. The original film strip was made in the mid 1950s. The story tells how the IBM RAMAC that was introduced in 1956 was developed.
RAMAC stood for “Random Access Method of Accounting and Control”. The RAMAC 350 stored a ‘massive’ 5 million characters across the internal fifty 24″ disks. The entire unit weighed in at about 1 ton.
So in about 60 years the technology has
- increased in capacity from 5MB to 8TB (grown by 160000000%)
- shrunk in volume from 118320 cubic inches to less than 24 cubic inches (shrunk to 0.02% of original volume)
- reduced in weight from 2000 to 1.4 pounds (0.07% of original weight)
- been discounted from a $27,007 (in 2015 equivalent dollars) per month lease to a $319.97 purchase from amazon (purchase is now 1.19% of the month lease)
Do you visit the Lowe’s big-box hardware stores? If so you may one day run into a 5 foot tall OSHbot. Presently, OSHbot can only be found in Orchard Supply Hardware (with is owned by Lowe’s) in San Jose, California. OSHbot was developed by Lowe’s Innovation Labs.
The robot greets customers and asks if it can assist them in finding something. Using a combination of voice processing and the on-board display, the robot determines what the customer is looking for, shows them a map to where it can be found in the store, then will offer to lead the customer to it.
The robot contains obstacle avoidance software so that it can easily navigate through the store aisles. To be able to interface with a growing multilingual population, the robots can interface with customers in many languages -including English, Spanish, and five Asian languages. The robots assist with inventory and can provide inside into trends.
Certainly this robot lends itself to being used in many retail establishments. How soon will it be before we see an OSHbot, or similar autonomous robot, in the large retail stores we shop in?