This Was the Portable Hard Drive of 1985—Clocking In at 20MB

Cropped photos from a 1985 ad for a 20MB portable hard drive made by Maynard (Byte magazine/Internet Archive)

Portable hard drives seem like they’re bound to go way of the dinosaur, thanks to the rise of services like Dropbox and Google Drive. But if you wanted to take a large file home with you back in 1985, you didn’t have quite so many options. Your best bet? Maybe this hard drive from Maynard.


“Leave the computer, take the drive!” the ad said in big, bold letters in the July 1985 issue of Byte magazine. And look at just how portable that thing is!

How much could something that size hold in 1985? Just 20 megabytes. Sadly, I haven’t found a price for this exact hard drive, but based on prices of the era, I’m sure it was worth north of $1,000.


Image: Byte magazine/Internet Archive

Personally, my biggest storage frustration in life happened during the move away from the Firewire standard, oddly enough. I had purchased a bunch of external firewire drives that worked for Macs in the early 2000s. They weren’t too were “portable,” in the sense that they were maybe 8 inches by 5 inches by 2 inches or so. And while I don’t remember how big they were exactly, I want to say they were a whopping 250GB a piece. But then Apple dropped the standard seemingly overnight. By the time my firewire-capable laptop died, I was stuck with a bunch of bricks.


These days everything is moving online, which enables your files to be “portable” in an entirely new way. But rest assured that people of the future will find today’s “portable” methods just as silly as the guy toting his 20MB hard drive above.

You don’t have a retinal scan drive that beams files directly into your brain? How archaic.


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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