Solid state drives (SSDs) had origins in the 1950s with two similar technologies: magnetic core memory and card capacitor read-only store (CCROS). These auxiliary memory units (as contemporaries called them) emerged during the era of vacuum-tube computers. But with the introduction of cheaper drum storage units, their usage ceased.
Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, SSDs were implemented in semiconductor memory for early IBM, Amdahl, and Cray supercomputers, but they were seldom used because of the prohibitively high price. In the late 1970s, General Instruments produced an electrically alterable ROM (EAROM), which operated somewhat like the later NAND flash memory. Unfortunately, a ten-year life was not achievable and many companies abandoned the technology. In 1976 Dataram started selling a product called Bulk Core, which provided up to 2 MB of solid state storage compatible with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Data General (DG) computers. In 1978, Texas Memory Systems introduced a 16 kilobyte RAM solid-state drive to be used by oil companies for seismic data acquisition. The following year, StorageTek developed the first RAM solid-state drive.
The Sharp PC-5000, introduced in 1983, used 128 KB solid-state storage cartridges containing bubble memory. In 1984 Tallgrass Technologies Corporation had a tape backup unit of 40 megabyte with a solid state 20 MB unit built in. The 20 MB unit could be used instead of a hard drive. In September 1986, Santa Clara Systems introduced BatRam, a 4 MB mass storage system expandable to 20 MB using 4 MB memory modules. The package included a rechargeable battery to preserve the memory chip content when the array was not powered. 1987 saw the entry of EMC Corporation (EMC) into the SSD market, with drives introduced for the mini-computer market. However, by 1993 EMC had exited the SSD market.
Software-based RAM disks were still used as of 2009 because they are an order of magnitude faster than other technology, though they consume more CPU resources and cost much more on a per-gigabyte basis.
In 1983, a mobile computer was the first to included four slots for removable storage in form of flash-based solid-state disks, using the same type of flash-memory cards. Flash modules did have the limitation of needing to be re-formatted entirely to reclaim space from deleted or modified files; old versions of files which were deleted or modified continued to take up space until the module was formatted.
In 1991 a 20MB solid state drive (SSD) sold for $1,000.
Early in 1995, the introduction of flash-based solid-state drives was announced. They had the advantage of not requiring batteries to maintain the data in the memory (required by the prior volatile memory systems), but were not as fast as the dynamic random-access memory (DRAM)-based solutions. Since then, SSDs have been used successfully as hard disk drive (HDD) replacements by the military and aerospace industries, as well as for other mission-critical applications. These applications require the exceptional mean time between failures (MTBF) rates that solid-state drives achieve by virtue of their ability to withstand extreme shock, vibration and temperature ranges.
Around 2007 a PCIe-based SSD was introduced with 100,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) of performance in a single card and capacities up to 320 GB. A 1 terabyte (TB) flash SSD using a PCI Express ×8 interface can achieve a maximum write speed of 654 megabytes per second (MB/s) and maximum read speed of 712 MB/s.
Enterprise flash drives (EFDs) are designed for applications requiring high I/O performance (IOPS), reliability, energy efficiency, and consistent performance. In most cases, an EFD is an SSD with a higher set of specifications, compared with SSDs that would typically be used in notebook computers. There are no standards bodies controlling the definition of EFDs, so any SSD manufacturer may claim to produce EFDs when they may not actually meet the requirements.