Memory Of The Month: Racks Of Records

This mid-1970s photo shows how GEICO stored policy records and other company information as it moved into the computer age. These IBM 3420 tape drives held about 120 megabytes of data. But converting from paper files to this type of data storage was a lengthy process; when I started at GEICO in 1984, we still had large areas of the headquarters building devoted to racks of policy papers in folders, in addition to racks of these storage tapes.

And it would be many years after that before these types of tapes went completely out of use – in 2004, to be exact. We make use of cloud storage these days, but we also still use some tape storage. Our preferred tape these days is the 3592 JA, each one of which holds 1.5 terabytes of data. It would take 12,500 of the 3420 tapes seen here to store as much information as one of the 3592s! We still need shelf space for the 3592 tapes, but a whole lot less of it than we used to need.

Here’s another way to look at how far we’ve come: When I showed this photo to my pal Bob, who has worked in IT here for many moons, he said, “My cell phone has more storage than one of these magnetic data storage tapes.”

Data storage is just one example of the amazing technological progress we’ve seen over the last 40 years. Come to think of it, cell phones are another. Can you think of others? Share them in the comments.

By Greg Marsh

Did you know? GEICO has been helping people save money on their car insurance for more than 75 years. Take a look back through more of the history Inside GEICO.