A brief history of the Hard Drive, part 2

The 1980s saw the minicomputer age plateau as PCs were introduced. Manufacturers such as DEC and Hewlett-Packard continued to manufacture minicomputer compatible hard drive systems as industry demanded higher storage. Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP 7935 as one such drive. But it was clear that smaller winchester storage systems were eclipsing large platter hard drives.


Hard disk drives for personal computers (PCs) were initially a rare and very expensive optional feature; however by the late ’80s, hard disk drives were standard on all but the cheapest PC.

Most hard disk drives in the early 1980s were sold to PC end users by systems integrators such as the Corvus Disk System or the systems manufacturer such as the Apple ProFile. The IBM PC XT in 1983, included an internal standard 10MB hard disk drive, and soon thereafter internal hard disk drives proliferated on personal computers.

HDDs continued to get smaller with the introduction of the 3.5-inch form factor in the middle of the decade Rodime 1983 and the 2.5-inch form factor PrairieTek 1988.

Industry participation peaked with about 75 active manufacturers in 1985 and then declined thereafter even though volume continued to climb: by 1989 reaching 22 million units and $23 billion in revenue.


Even though there were a number of new entrants, industry participants continued to decline in total to 15 in 1999. Unit volume and industry revenue monotonically increased during the 1990s to 174 million units and $26 billion.

The industry production consolidated around the 3.5-inch and 2.5 inch form factors; the larger form factors dying off while several smaller form factors were offered but achieved limited success, e.g. HP 1.3-inch Kittyhawk, IBM 1-inch Microdrive, etc..

2000 to present

In 2001 the HDD industry experienced its first ever decline in units and revenue, due to the rapid uprising of SSD prices

The number of industry participants decreased to 6 in 2009 and 3 in 2013

Unit production peaked in 2010 at about 650 million units and has been in a slow decline since then.  Shipments in 2016 estimated at about 424 million units.