The origin of the phrases ATA and IDE [WAS:RE: formatting MFM drives on a IBM PC]

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Sun Oct 1 14:58:43 CDT 2017

On 10/01/2017 12:46 PM, Tom Gardner via cctalk wrote:
> I've looked for but cannot find any WD or Compaq documents publically
> using IDE to describe what ultimately issued as ATA-1.  My search
> included various Compaq maintenance manuals.  The earliest public use
> of ATA and AT attachment that I can find is March 1969 at the CAM
> committee draft standard long before IDE was linuga franca for these
> drives.  The earliest public disclosure of the interface that I can
> find is revision IV to the Conner CP3022 specification dated Feb
> 1988; it doesn’t name the interface other than in terms of “task file
> emulation.”  It is likely that such documents existed from Conner
> prior to Feb 1988, perhaps as early as shipping the CP344 in 4Q86.
> My point is the interface was public before it was named.
> My recollection (possibly flawed) is WD tried to have the responsible
> committee change the name to IDE and failed.
> I do have a confidential WD document from 1965 which does use the
> term IDE for "Integrated Drive Electronics" referring to their chips,
> a drive built with these chips was called an "Integrated Drive" or an
> ID.
> The earliest advertisements and specifications for what we would now
> call ATA-1 drives from Conner, MiniScribe and Quantum did not use
> either the term IDE or ATA.  I have a list of terms used if anyone
> cares.
> As best I can tell WD began publically using the term IDE for its
> drives sometime around 1990 - if anyone can find a public usage prior
> to March 1989 of IDE to describe what became ATA-1  I'd really like
> to see it.
> The CAM and ANSI committees have since March 1969 defined ATA == AT
> Attachment and NEVER used "Advanced Technology" as an acronym for AT
> in any standard or draft including the one cited below!  There are
> 134 possible definitions <>  of
> “AT,” including for example, “Appropriate Technology”  – sure the
> connection to IBM’s PC/AT  is obvious, but the authors, editors and
> reviewers of the standards never meant it to mean “Advanced
> Technology” so I suggest we respect their definition and not leap to
> an obvious but incorrect conclusion.

Tom, I think your dates are about 20 years early.

I do have an old CDC Wren III half-height manual where the interface is
called "ATA", with no mention of "IDE".  Even then, we still referred to
the drives as "IDE".   That term had to come from somewhere.

So perhaps some digging is in order.


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