By Sophie Bryla

RAM, which stands for random access memory, is a memory device inside a computer. It stores information, and allows it to be accessed in any order. Because it can be accessed randomly, rather than in a specific order like cd or hard drives, it's data can be retrieved much faster. RAM is a volatile memory, meaning it's information will be erased if the power of the computer is turned off. This means one must save his or her work to a non-volatile storage system, such as a hard drive, before turning the computer off. Then, when the computer is turned back on, RAM is automatically filled with programs which are loaded during the startup, as well as open files. Over time, RAM has been changed, revised, and advanced, so that there has been many variations of it. Some examples are DIMM, RIMM, SIMM, SO-DIMM, and SOO-RIMM. Below is an example of a 512 MB DIMM, a typical piece of RAM found in a modern desktop computer. The RAM is installed on the computer's motherboard.
The RAM can either be individually connected as one chip to the motherboard, or in sets of chips on a small board connected to the motherboard. The majority of RAM nowadays, are in the form of chips, lined up in a narrow circuit board attached to a connector on the motherboard. The circuit board, often called a "stick" looks like a large rectangular stick of gum. The "stick" fits into the "bank" of the motherboard. The more "sticks" a computer has, the more RAM storage there is. Below is a circuit board of RAM chips attached to a the "bank" of the motherboard.
As computers become more advanced, RAM chips become faster and more advanced, which means the motherboard they are attached to, must remain compatible in order for the RAM to work. The motherboard only supports certain types of memory, and has a limit for the amount of storage it can contain. The first form of RAM was invented in 1947, and used a CRT (cathode ray tube.) The data was stored on the face of the CRT, as electrically charged spots. The next form of RAM was magnetic-core memory, invented by Frederick Viehe. It worked using tiny metal rings, with wires connecting to each ring. One bit of data could be stored in each metal ring, and could be accessed at any time. The version of RAM we have today, was invented in 1968 by Robert Dennard. The specific name, or most common form of RAM is known as dynamic random access memory, or DRAM. It is the most common found form of RAM in PC computers, and stores information in a cell containing a transistor and capacitor. The transistor and capacitor pair together, to make a memory cell, which represents one bit of data. The cells must be refreshed all the time with new electricity in order to hold all the data. RAM is the best-known from of computer memory, and is essential to the computer as a whole. Below is a picture of Robert Dennard, the man responsible for the invention of RAM.