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I agree. Most people don't realize just how big a problem memory was in the early years of computers. People think about how to implement the ALU with various technologies, but memory is where things get sticky.

Core memory was much better than the earlier approaches you described, and is really the only way to go for a pre-DRAM computer. Once core memory came along, the other approaches vanished. The IBM tube computers used dynamically-refreshed capacitors for register storage (called a Havens Delay Unit), but I agree that capacitor memory is a strange choice for main memory since it needs O(N) tubes.

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