In the 1960s, the primary means of mass storage in the computer industry was paper, either punched tape or punched cards. The media (paper) and the hardware (readers and punchers) for this technology were relatively inexpensive. Paper tapes and cards were also reliable.
However, paper had many drawbacks. It was very slow; loading programs from punched tape or cards took a long time. Compared to subsequent magnetic media, paper was not a dense storage medium. Many cards, or many meters of paper tape were required to hold even basic programs or data files. Technically, paper was also a WORM technology (Write Once, Read Many), a term that came into being in the 1980s, during the early days of magneto-optical technology. So, if a programmer needed to change a single line on a program, he/she had to load the program in the usual slow manner, input changes to the program, then punch out the entire program again onto new tape or onto a new set of cards. Punched cards had the added disadvantage of needing to be kept in the exact correct order at all times. If one card (in say a 100-card program) was input in the wrong order, the program would not be correctly read by the computer.
Although magnetic discs and tapes became available by 1970, paper storage technology was still used throughout the 1970s.
The HP Computer Museum and Wordsong Communications P/L are not affiliated with the Hewlett Packard Company or with Hewlett Packard Australia Ltd. Hewlett Packard and the HP logo are trademarks of the Hewlett Packard company. This website is intended solely for research and education purposes.