hard drive history

finding the formula: ide as we know it

Samsung SHD-3121A

Photo: Red Hill.

Samsung SHD-3121A

Another horror. In the early nineties Samsung was already making some of the world's best monitors, but hadn't got the hang of hard drives. The SHD-3121A was a typical Samsung drive of the period: well-specified, fast, modern-looking — and very fragile. You wouldn't even want to think about running an SHD-3121A on an angle to the vertical — absolutely flat or nothing.

We know a dealer who bought a batch of six of these when they first came out instead of his usual Seagates, and had to send eight back. Yes, eight failures out of six: one drive worked OK, two of the five replacements were faulty, and one of the 'replacement replacements' died within the first week or two as well!

Another computer shop just down the road from us was a member of a well-known buying group chain. Around this time or a little later on, their higher-ups in Melbourne bought hundreds of Samsung drives and bundled them into system packages. That left our friends down the road selling lots of new systems with 120 and 170MB SHDs, and for the next year or so we had a steady stream of unhappy former Shop X customers coming to us because their drive had failed.

More Samsung horrors!

We replaced most of them with the excellent little Maxtor 7213. The root cause of the SHD's difficulty seems to have been an inability to withstand even the mildest of shocks, particularly if the drive was mounted on a small angle to the vertical — though I hasten to add that this is merely speculation. Whatever the reason, these failed in large numbers.

It would be many years before we felt brave enough to sample Samsung drives again, and when we finally did, the difference was astonishing!

Data rate25.7 Mbit/secSpin rate3600 RPM
Seek time16msBuffer
Platter capacity62MBInterfaceIDE
ActuatorVoice coilForm3½" 1/3 height>
SHD-3121A125MB4 thin-film heads