Internet Archive just Recovered the Contents of a 1970s Hard Disk

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If you thought that the IA just archived paper books then I have news for you.

The folks who digitized a braille Playboy have just released the archived copy of a CDC 9877 disk pack. This was an 80 MB removable hard disk for a Cray supercomputer.

In the late 70s and 80, Cray Research Corporation made a number of one of a kind supercomputers. They were incredibly powerful for their day and they were incredibly expensive. Of course, you now have more computing power in laptop than any Cray models, but that’s what happens with technology.

The amazing part here is not on did they have to figure out how to interpret the data on the magnetic disks, they also had to build a rig just to read the disks. In fact, they haven’t decoded the contents yet; all that is online at the moment are images taken from the raw scan of the 5 platters. And I do mean the raw disk images; that 80MB disk drive now takes up 5GB  of ZIP files on one of IA’s servers. UnZip them and you’ll have 20GB of data to play with.

You can read the full report on how finally got the data here; it makes for fascinating reading from a techno-archeology point of view.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. […] If you look through their collection carefully, you can also find the occasional odd item like the hard disk from a 1970s Cray supercomputer, or a braille […]

  2. […] powerful desktop computer – just so long as you can read the storage medium (for example, a hard disk from a 1970s Cray super […]


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