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Long, long ago, people raced hard drives. It wasn't today's race of seek times and transfer rates. It was a race of wiggling, vibrating washing machine sized brutes. The fathers of today's old farts were ubergeeks that raced these monstrosities.

Hard drives used to be these washing-machine sized boxes. One would put a stack of platters in the machine and then press the read-head engage button. Ancient hard drives were similar to today's disk drives. These read-heads were the method with which one raced. All the read heads moved together in parallel. They were not capable of independent movement.

So, one would race the hard drives. If there were 16384 sectors on a hard disk, a specific read pattern would be set. If sector one was near the core, and 16384 were on the edge, here is the programmed seek pattern: Sector 1, 4096, 8192,12288, 16384. This is looped continuously. The effect is a slow movement in one direction and a fast movement in the other.

The read head package on these ancient drives weighed in excess of 20 pounds. The constant twitching of this 20 pound weight made act like a Maytag and caused the drive to slowly creep in one direction. Usually, the seek pattern was random enough to prevent movement. If you programmed it correctly, it would move! Call explains better then I: "...the different impulses involved would make the motion possible by the quick motion breaking slighly above the static friction so causing movement, but the smaller impulse of the slow motion in the other direction below the threshold...". Two programmers would line up their hard drives, program their seek patterns, then race until a drive became disconnected, broken, or was a sure winner. A really good racer could get 20 cm an hour.

So you have hard disk racing. There is an urban legend associated with this. A scientist supposedly left the computer to run a 5 hour program overnight. In the morning, he was stuck outside the lab, because the hard drive had migrated in front of the door.

My grandfather always had the most interesting stories.

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