AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

In 1985, when this film was made, this computer memory technology, invented by Andy Bobeck at Bell Labs in the late 1960s, was still supposed to be the wave of the future. Magnetic bubble memory had a few advantages over traditional integrated circuit technology: namely, it was supposed to withstand harsh temperature and humidity/aridity conditions, and hold data stably — even when the power was turned off. But the bubble memory devices were extremely power-hungry, and could develop data glitches.

But magnetic bubbles, at the time, were being compared to tape storage and even punch cards. RAM and ROM were faster, but much more expensive then. Bell's executives gave magnetic bubble memory a full marketing push, and even other companies jumped on board — Intel in particular. In 1987, Intel's magnetic bubble division became its own company — Memtech.

Memtech continued producing bubble memory until the mid-2000s, marketed mainly to military and space applications. But once flash memory came down in price and reliability, it replaced bubble memory in those areas.

Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 10/21/2011