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Data Storage Hardware

The History of the Floppy Disk 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the once-upon-a-time dept.
Esther Schindler writes "Ready for a nostalgic trip into the wayback? We had floppy disks long before we had CDs, DVDs, or USB thumb-drives. Here's the evolution of the portable media that changed everything about personal computing. 'The 8-inch drive began to show up in 1971. Since they enabled developers and users to stop using the dreaded paper tape (which were easy to fold, spindle, and mutilate, not to mention to pirate) and the loathed IBM 5081 punch card. Everyone who had ever twisted a some tape or—the horror!—dropped a deck of Hollerith cards was happy to adopt 8-inch drives. Besides, the early single-sided 8-inch floppy could hold the data of up to 3,000 punch cards, or 80K to you.'"
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The History of the Floppy Disk

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  • Read Error (Score:5, Funny)

    by zippo01 (688802) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @03:30AM (#41162931)
    I/O Error, Try again.... I/O Error, Try again. Damn it! Now how am I going to play Oregon Trail.
    • Re:Read Error (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:16AM (#41163213) Journal

      What was "fun" was some of the later OS installs that came on floppies. Anybody remember how many floppies Win95 took? And it never failed that one of the floppies, usually one of those needed at the very end, wouldn't work.

      Still I remember how excited I was when I got my first CD burner...no more floppies yay! And I could overburn too! I for one was damned glad when floppies finally bought the farm, I always seemed to end up with the damned discs dead and my data toast, no matter how much I babied the stupid things.

      • 28 floppies if memory serves. Win98 was like comparative nirvana for me; a floppy to boot and a CD to install.
        • Re:Read Error (Score:5, Informative)

          by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:00AM (#41163449)

          Netware 2.15 came on 40 floppies and could not be installed from the originals, you had to make a backup copy first, which needed half a day alone since each disk had to be switched several times during the copy process.
          Then during install, you noticed that the 40th copy was bad.

          • Re:Read Error (Score:4, Insightful)

            by mspohr (589790) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @12:18PM (#41168213)

            That was the most frustrating part of Netware... besides the large number of disks, you had to put some disks in several times and switch them back and forth. They also stayed with single density disks when the double density disk drives were widely available so the number of disks was twice as many as necessary.

          • Yeah. I installed ESIX (Everex's version of Unix) off of floppies, some time in 1991 or 1992. I think there were 48 disks, or some horrible number like that, and naturally the 45th or so was unreadable. I had to wait to finish the install for a couple of days until I could get another copy of that disk mailed to me. Oddly, I can't remember now whether they were 3.5" or 5.25" floppies.

        • by cusco (717999)
          28 floppies was for Office 4.2, which had the most delightful bug. It wouldn't ask for the installation code until disk 9, and if you typed it in wrong even once you had to start the process all over again. Fortunately that was fixed in 4.3, but by that time we had figured out how to dump the whole installation on my server's enormous 2 gb hard drive.
        • I had bought a laptop back in the day, a Compaq Presario 1070 preloaded with W95. Upon booting it for the very first time, it wanted me to create a backup using 31 1.44MB floppies.
      • by Errtu76 (776778)

        Yep. I also remember paying close to 20 guilders (let's see .. that's about 8 euro .. or 9-10 dollars?) for a 650M CD recordable. Not to mention the re-writables that costed me twice that amount.

      • by troc (3606)

        I remember the "fun" of installing Office from floppy in the 90's when it came on something like 44 discs.

        aaaargh the nightmares.....................

        • by Nikker (749551)
          Ahh the nostalgia of trying to back up software from its home directory. DOS was easy, Win 3.x was easy the rest was something else. But did I stop? Not a chance ;)
      • Anybody remember how many floppies Win95 took?

        I still have my box of Win95 install floppies. There are 39, but mine were created at first boot by the OS. A slight money grab by the supplier (PC World), they wouldn't provide OS install media, but would sell you 4 boxes of floppies to create your own backup.

      • by shippo (166521)
        At work we had an installation of Windows NT Server (3.5, perhaps) that came on floppies. There was over 40 of them. We had many other OS installations on floppy too. Banyan VINES (which we resold) had about two dozen, and as Banyan were compartively late in supporting CD media for installation, and even then didn't support IDE CD-ROM drives, many servers had to be installed and upgraded this way well up to the late 1990s. We had other operating systems on floppy, too, including several versions of OS/2,
        • by Reapman (740286)

          Wow... Banyan VINES... now there's a name I haven't heard in a long long time. That was a pretty impressive system, back in the day.

      • My first Linux install was Slackware on about 40 diskettes. I ftp'd them all over a weekend via my lowly 9600 baud modem. I know that sounds like I'm spinning a 'we had to walk in the snow uphill, both ways' tale but it's true.

        I remember the first time I installed an OS from CDROM. I believe it was OS/2. I was amazed.

        • My first Linux was Slackware. 300 baud. I remember having just enough floppies for the base and network. I also remember praying to all the gods that after I formatted my only hard drive that they all worked. It did, and I ran Linux (eventually Debian) for the next 11 years.
        • Re:Read Error (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @06:40PM (#41173087) Journal

          Oh I believe you friend, I remember doing a WinNT 3.5 floppy install and I think it was like 42 or 43 floppies, just nuts. the kids today don't realize how truly nutty it had gotten with the floppies right before the CD took off, we had 17 floppies for Win95, someone else posted Office 4.2 took something like 40 floppies for a full install, Banyan took a couple of dozen, your Slackware took 40...it was insanity.

          I remember at the shop I was working at the time we had these giant filing cabinets just filled with row after row after row of floppy boxes with various OSes and software marked on the top. This is why we were practically dancing with joy when the first CD burners got released, even though the discs were high and the burning software would get flaky, just because the amount of damned floppies we had to deal with on a daily basis was like some bad parody.

      • by rjr162 (69736)

        Yes! I remember installing OS/2 Warp on my grand father's old Swan 486 (which sadly ran Windows applications faster than Windows 3.1 did on the same machine...)

        That was a ton of floppies + if I recall correctly there were about 7 to 10 more with "Printer Drivers" or something along those lines

      • by Tore S B (711705)

        What was "fun" was some of the later OS installs that came on floppies. Anybody remember how many floppies Win95 took? And it never failed that one of the floppies, usually one of those needed at the very end, wouldn't work.

        That's nothing. The Norwegian company that delivered the computing hardware and software for the F16 flight simulator, Norsk Data, was actually required by the US Air Force to deliver their software as punched cards for quite a few years after punch cards had really gone out of fashion.

        Every software patch was the same - requiring staff to manually collate the source code punched cards - basically, manually merging patches.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        My copy of W95 cand on a CD, and I still have it and my DOS 6.2 floppies. All three of them. And the half inch thick book that came with them... too bad they stopped giving printed documentation and instad have those unhelpful help files.

    • Which made them frankly fairly useless for data storage and backup. Any company IT dept worth its salt used tapes and your average user just had to make sure he backed the same thing up on enough floppies that after N months/years at least one would hopefully still work. And as time went by and manufacturers cut costs to make up for falling sales reliability got so bad that in boxes of some of the last floppies to be produced at least 1 or 2 disks wouldn't even work to start with if my experience was anythi

      • To this day I don't fully understand why tape is so much more reliable than floppies. Aren't they essentially the same medium (magnetized substrate) but just in a different shape (long-long-long rectangle vs donut)? Is it a density thing, or is the material actually that much different (I know floppies are stiffer, but I always figured they were just thicker).
        • by Viol8 (599362) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @06:56AM (#41164071)

          Data density was much higher on a floppy disk than tapes of the day (if you think about it , and entire floppy disks surface area is probably only equivalent to a few inches of tape) so consequently minor faults that would do nothing to data on a tape could cause complete data loss on a floppy disk.

        • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:05AM (#41164121) Homepage

          It wasn't. 9 track tapes lasted a few years and at that point the oxide flaked off. Ever wonder where Google's Usenet archive came from? DejaNews. Wonder where that came from? Archive.org (I think it's all still there somewhere in 4 of the biggest files on earth). Wonder where they got it from? I sort of arranged them to get a copy from magi@uwo who had taken Henry Spencer's tape backups made because a friend of his wanted rec.birds ad it was easier to just store all of it. magi told me at the worst point they'd run a tape for a foot, then have to stop and clean all the flaked oxide off the heads and keep going. It took, I think, two summers to read them all that way.

          Tapes were ok if you used them the same year or next, but if you were serious about data, you kept it on disk packs, either 2314 single platers or 2311 packs or multiple platters.

          8" floppies may have been introduced in 71 but it wasn't really anywhere close to common until the late seventies and never had much traction with large computers. More so with minicomputers but still fairly useless given the volumes of data. Where they shone was with micros, their 8-bit cpus and low data requirements made them ideal; you could easily boot an O/S off one and have all your data on the other and this lasted until about the early to mid 80s when 5" floppies - much less reliable - took over.

          IBM introduced them and they were called "flexible diskettes" and nobody thought they would work or work reliably if they did, which really wasn't too far off the mark.

          You know all those gaps in Google's Usenet archive? That's where the oxide flaked off and that data is just plain extinct. No, tapes sucked but then, as now, expensive dick drives had outstanding longevity.

          • by Tore S B (711705) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:19AM (#41165303) Homepage

            You're describing "sticky shed syndrome", or hydrolysis of the polyurethane binding layer between the oxide and the base. Some tape brands are more susceptible to it than others. Storage conditions are another significant determinant.

            Basically, humidity reacts with the glue that keeps the rust sticking to the plastic. If there was archival data of such significance, the tapes should have been "baked" - that is, slowly heated to a precise temperature which would re-dry the glue. After that, the tapes would probably mount fine.

            If you had conferred with some people like the Computer History Museum (just down the block from the Googleplex), they would have helped you out.

          • by Viol8 (599362)

            Does it matter if its oxide flaking off or simply losing magnetism? Floppy disks were unreliable. Ok , data was lost due to flaking on tapes , but you could still read the rest of the tape. Good luck reading much of anything off a floppy disk if you lost any directory metadata.

          • by gv250 (897841)

            8" floppies ... never had much traction with large computers.

            Are you forgetting the VAX 11/780's console floppy drive? No VAX would have ever booted without it.

            No, tapes sucked but then, as now, expensive dick drives had outstanding longevity.

            Best typo today.

          • by Opyros (1153335)

            No, tapes sucked but then, as now, expensive dick drives had outstanding longevity.

            Freudian typo?

        • by donaldm (919619)

          To this day I don't fully understand why tape is so much more reliable than floppies.

          Are there still people today that use floppies? :)

          Basically for any professional backup service tapes are always the best and this is still the case today. Even back in the early 1980's any decent system admin would never consider using floppies for system and data backups since they had limited capacity and weren't that reliable. Of course floppies were relatively cheap in comparison to tapes however when you consider a 1.2MB 3.5" floppy (I have seen 10" floppies) verses a 100MB plus reel to reel tape an

          • by isorox (205688)

            Are there still people today that use floppies? :)

            Yes, we have various old bits of equipment which use floppys to store settings etc. Astons and vision mixers come to mind.

          • Hard Disks - Expensive (in comparison) but large and quick
            Flash drives - Very Expensive and small
            Tape - Cheap and reliable and big enough for most
            Cloud - Slow (unless you have a huge pipe), and expensive (cost per month)

            A bunch of tapes in a safe off-site is still the best solution for most people .... your mileage may vary

          • by jmauro (32523)

            Are there still people today that use floppies? :)

            Yes. I click on them all the time to save documents and files.

      • by zmollusc (763634)

        I yearned for a floppy disk drive while i pissed around with audio cassettes. Booting and running dos 3.3 from floppy (many years later) was sheer joy.

    • used them in a Motorola eXorcisor and, of course, the VAX 11/785 booted from a Wang floppy drive. came time (past time, DEC was not going to support us any longer if I didn't apply the 3 years of updates my predecessor had not installed) that I had to build a new boot floppy for VMS 6.x, and man, was that the most careful I have ever been in my life.

      worst floppies ever... 1.2 Mb PC-DOS format. scratch, scratch, scratch Abort, Retry, Fail?

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @03:37AM (#41162969)
    One thing I remember was a colleague spilling sweet hot coffee on a 5.25 inch floppy that had just arrived in the post. We all thought he would have to tell head office that we had just destroyed our latest update disk and get them to send another, but he opened the envelope, took out the actual disk, rinsed it under the tap, and carefully dried it. Next he got a blank floppy, opened this, and substituted the internal disk - finally sealing it with sellotape down the edge. We all said "it will never work", but it read perfectly - the first thing he did was take a back-up of course.
    • by JosKarith (757063) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:53AM (#41163399)
      First step - make a back-up.
      Second step - put the originals somewhere safe and use the back-up disks
      We got tripped up with this on a graphic design program for the Archimedes at school. We made a copy of the original and ran off that for a while. Then the copy went missing so the teacher grabbed the original and tried using that. It refused to work. We thought that it had somehow gotten fried but someone dutifully ran off a copy anyway and that worked fine. We were all really confused till we realised that the original had the write-protect tab set. The program needed to write back to the disk occasionally nut the manufacturer had assumed that everyone who used the program would run off unprotected copies... fun times.
  • "Wang needed a smaller, cheaper floppy disk."

  • by Jonah Hex (651948) <hexdotms.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @03:53AM (#41163075) Homepage Journal
    ... unfortunately it's only on a single set of 3.5s just like my ASCII/ANSI artwork. Probably unrecoverable by now. Windows for Workgroups and the rest are just minor nostalgia pieces I haven't trashed yet as I find it finny to run across them in my old hardware boxes. - HEX
    • by Jonah Hex (651948)
      Yes I stand by my use of the word finny, fucking hell stupid typo. - HEX
    • ... unfortunately it's only on a single set of 3.5s just like my ASCII/ANSI artwork. Probably unrecoverable by now. Windows for Workgroups and the rest are just minor nostalgia pieces I haven't trashed yet as I find it finny to run across them in my old hardware boxes. - HEX

      Why unrecoverable. 3.5" drives are easy to come by, and are still supported in Windows 7.

  • I still wish someone would make (and sell) a USB 5.25" floppy drive. I still have a few 5.25" floppies kicking around that I'd love to get data off of, if they're still readable.
  • by andyteleco (1090569) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:16AM (#41163211)
    I remember taking bunches of old DD 3.5'' floppies and drilling a hole on the lower left side in order to later format them as HD (1.44 MB). Of course many of them were destroyed or ended up with lots of defective sectors in the process.

    Aaaaah, the good old days!
    • by troc (3606)

      And before that we took single-sided 5.25" floppies, carefully removed the disc, cut some extra holes in the case, carefully replaced the disc and, if we were lucky, had a double-sided disc instead!

      • by swb (14022)

        All you needed was a paper punch. And some reasonable hand strength No disassembly required.

        • by tgd (2822)

          All you needed was a paper punch. And some reasonable hand strength No disassembly required.

          No, but I do recall having had to make a hard-sector disk from a soft-sector disk using a punch and taking the disk itself out.

          That was so long ago, I can't remember if it worked or not, I just remember having done it. Probably means it worked, as a failure would've been more memorable.

        • Or, one of these...

          floppy notcher [commodoreserver.com]
    • by ag0ny (59629)

      I remember doing the opposite. In the late 90s I was still using 8-bit computers from the 80s as a hobby (MSX, relatively popular everywhere but the U.S.). Because the communications software was limited, we used to download software from local BBSs via our PCs, and then copy into floppy disks to use on the MSX.

      The problem was that the PC didn't accept that I was trying to format 2HD disks in 2DD format, so in my MSX disks I always covered the little hole. This was either under MS-DOS 6.22 or OS\2 Warp (I d

  • Ahhh memories! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jahta (1141213) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:43AM (#41163351)

    I worked in tech support in the 1980s and 5.25" floppies were a great (unintended) source of fun.

    For example, in response to "can you send me a copy of that floppy?" I was sent (a) a photocopy the floppy and (b) a floppy with a covering note stapled to it!

    But best of all was the time I asked a user if they had a backup of some important documents. She pointed me to a 5.25" floppy - attached to the side of a filing cabinet with a fridge magnet.

    Happy days!

    • by ag0ny (59629) <javi@l[ ]ndeira.net ['ava' in gap]> on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:50AM (#41163703) Homepage

      Ah, those urban legends that didn't happen to you either, but everybody says they experienced them first person. :-)

      Yeah, those didn't happen to me either, but I've heard them many times.

      • by tgd (2822)

        Ah, those urban legends that didn't happen to you either, but everybody says they experienced them first person. :-)

        Yeah, those didn't happen to me either, but I've heard them many times.

        I find the photocopy story a little hard to imagine, but FWIW, the staple thing I saw MANY times, and the magnet thing at least a couple times.

        Of course, the staple thing wasn't really a problem most of the time -- I can't recall for sure, but I doubt I ever saw one where someone actually hit the disk itself. And, frankly, the magnet wouldn't do much either. Moving (strong) magnets are a problem, a little fridge magnet in the corner isn't going to do anything. The data density was very low and the regions w

      • by cusco (717999)
        Well, I've run into the first and the last, although it was a horseshoe magnet rather than a fridge magnet. Never had anyone staple a floppy, but one woman was complaining because her "hard drive" (the 3.5" floppy) wouldn't go in the drive any more. She had noticed that the aluminum slide could pull back to expose the media, so to make sure no dust got in it she taped it shut.

        She was the assistant to one of the executives, and kept all the important correspondence she generated on the floppy because sh
      • Re:Ahhh memories! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by knarfling (735361) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @11:42AM (#41167691) Journal

        You may not have experienced them, but many of us have.

        The magnet issue happened to my supervisor, but I was there at the time. What made it difficult was that he would bring the disks in to the shop completely trashed. It took over a week and 5 sets of replacement floppies before we figured out the trouble.

        Stapling, however, happened to me personally. An office assistant was told to bring the floppy to our shop and was given a paper with our address on it. She was specifically told not to paper clip the address to the floppy so as to prevent bending, so she stapled it. Surprisingly, we were able to gently pry the staple out an recover the data. But it prompted us to have fun with other customers. We took a bad floppy, put it in the protective sleeve, covered it with a piece of paper that said "Important Data. Do NOT erase" and stapled it to the disk and sleeve about 20 times. We then placed it out on the counters next to the demo machines and counted how many people tried to slide the disk out of the sleeve. Several people asked us if we could put it in to see what was on the disk, a few tried to slide it out, and at least four tried to put the disk, sleave, staples and paper into the drive.

        My favorite experience happened when someone tried to return a game as defective. He stated that it worked the first time, but he took it to a friends house and it didn't work. When he brought it home, it didn't work. When I asked him if I could see the disk, he took it out of his shirt pocket and unfolded it. It was still in the the sleeve. I put my hands behind my back and asked him to turn the disk over and read the warning on the back of the sleeve. When he got to the "Do Not Bend" warning, he looked up and said, "That's probably why it doesn't work, isn't it?"

    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      I worked in tech support in the 1980s and 5.25" floppies were a great (unintended) source of fun.

      Sure, you did. I've heard those same stories a million times.

      My own true anecdote is the first time I used a Macintosh at university -- the first or second generation -- 128 kB RAM, no hard disk, just ran on a floppy. I borrowed a system disk from a tutor and inserted it to boot it up.The message appeared "Initialise disk?" Since "initialise" means "begin" I of course agreed, and it reformatted the floppy and wiped out the tutor's files.

    • by rs79 (71822)

      Either these three things happened in more than one company or we worked at the same place. I saw all these things too, exactly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @04:45AM (#41163361)

    We would call the big ones "floppies" and the small ones "stiffies" (for obvious reaons) to keep them apart. And we would do it with a straight face.

    This seems to have been a local thing in South Africa, however, since I have only heard it there.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:06AM (#41163465) Homepage Journal

      We would call the big ones "floppies" and the small ones "stiffies" (for obvious reaons) to keep them apart. And we would do it with a straight face.

      This seems to have been a local thing in South Africa, however, since I have only heard it there.

      lerppu(floppy) vs. korppu(hardy).

      of course hard disks were then called kovalevyt so.. but we had that distinction in finnish too. maybe english is the only language where it doesn't exist?-D

      • lerppu(floppy) vs. korppu(hardy).

        Later computer magazines also tried to root the term "romppu" for CDRs, but it was mostly used by lamers only.

  • There's only one good use for a "modern" floppy disk drive - MUSIC!

    Doom's E1M1 soundtrack on eight floppy drives:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7-5WYOKxE [youtube.com]

    Guy also has plenty more tracks. Makes me want to break out the Arduino again...

  • The Sector Wars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbstone (457308) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @05:53AM (#41163721)

    Y'all forgot, there weren't just 5.25" and 8" floppy drives, there was also no agreement among OEMs on whether diskettes should be soft sectored or hard sectored, and there were maybe 30 formatting schemes in use -- hard sectoring required punching holes in the media, sometimes several.

    Even after the IBM-PC (which adopted 5.25" soft-sectored disks as the standard) there were attempts to use punched holes, or nonstandard data written to the disks, either as a copy protection scheme or in order to require computer purchasers to purchase the OEM's own diskette media (DEC Rainbow).

    • by Tore S B (711705)

      Actually IIRC the DEC Rainbow just didn't have formatting capacity on its floppy controller. There is software to get PCs to format RX50 diskettes, and there is a single DEC with an RX50 that can be triggered to format RX50 floppies. Part of me wants to say that it was the Rainbow - that or the Pro 380...

  • I was always under the impression that they were actually 9 cm discs. Being Japanese (Sony) in origin, they were in rest-of-the-world measurements, not American.
  • NeXT (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by MojoRilla (591502)
    Yes, Steve Jobs popularized floppies with the Apple II, but he wasn't always so lucky. At the time the NeXT Computer came out, the lack of a floppy drive was a serious problem. Sneakernet was alive and well in those days, and uploading files via the network required bizarre things like Kermit and ZModem. And the NeXT magneto optical drive was horrendous. NeXT did eventually introduce a floppy in 1991, pretty late in the game. Of course, NeXT was way ahead of its time, the computer that the world wide w
  • I was pretty amazed that I could read floppies from the 80s and very early nineties flawlessly, those were 5.25". I was collecting crap back then so I ended up with an Apple II and a PC/AT (where I added a VGA card, and a null modem cable for transfers).

    3.5" were at least more physically robust, though you could bend the metal latch and at worst destroy the drive when you get it stuck in it. but, it was so incredibly unreliable! back then too, a home computer was only useful for gaming and the floppies were

  • by fm6 (162816)

    I'm pretty sure that 5081 refers to a specific single-field layout [flickr.com], not to 80-column punched cards as such. There were many layouts [uiowa.edu]. I seem to recall using something very similar to this FORTRAN card [uiowa.edu] even when I wasn't doing FORTRAN, and I don't think they had "FORTRAN STATEMENT" printed on them.

    I don't recall anybody loathing punched cards. They were a simple, reliable, if somewhat bulky medium. It is true that magnetic discs represented a great improvement. In my case, floppies were never more than a back

    • I'm pretty sure that 5081 refers to a specific single-field layout [flickr.com], not to 80-column punched cards as such. There were many layouts [uiowa.edu]. I seem to recall using something very similar to this FORTRAN card [uiowa.edu] even when I wasn't doing FORTRAN, and I don't think they had "FORTRAN STATEMENT" printed on them.

      I don't recall anybody loathing punched cards. They were a simple, reliable, if somewhat bulky medium. It is true that magnetic discs represented a great improvement. In my case, floppies were never more than a backup medium, since the systems I worked with always had hard disks.

      Yep. Dug into the closet and only the "blank" cards say 5081 on them. The yellow Assembler cards have a different number (two of them actually, since they're not Genuine IBM), blue COBOL cards are 3393 and the pink FORTRAN (sic) cards have a 88157 on them.

      I recall being disgusted because after too many trips through the RJE card reader, a quarter-inch wide notch would wear out in the top center of the cards (where the picker pushed them) and quite a few incidents of woe from dropped decks, but the only flop

  • Ahh, floppies. The very definition of optimism knowing that when the following message came up

    Not ready reading drive A
    Abort, Retry, Fail?

    That you were screwed, but you would still choose one anyway

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abort,_Retry,_Fail%3F [wikipedia.org]

    • For me that just meant I accidentally took the floppy out while it was still using it. Stuck it back in and hit retry and you were good.

      I don't recall having nearly as many problems with floppies as others seem to have had. I guess I just took good care of mine.

    • More on Abort, retry, ignore [pauljlucas.org].
  • I was a dodgy little software pirate too, I was constantly formatting floppy disks and checking for bastard CRC errors. I only had a 20mb hard disk to begin with.

    So that is why the pin for my ATM card is 145766412139
    (I can't fit the 52 at the end, they max out at 12 digits here, not 14)
    Sad, I know.

    The 2 combined numbers there, which you might be more familliar with in Ztree are.
    1,457,664 BYTES FREE
    1,213,952 BYTES FREE
    No CRC errors on those bad boys, every block is working :)
    Oh and I have an 8" floppy stuck

  • Loading Windows & Office on a new PC using more than 60 floppies, spending all afternoon praying God the last one wouldn't fail...
  • FTA: "Besides, the early single-sided 8-inch floppy could hold the data of up to 3,000 punch cards, or 80K to you. I know that's nothing today — this article uses up 66K with the text alone – but then it was a big deal."

    There is no way that the text ALONE in this article could take up 66K. That would be something like 200 pages.

  • My first computer was that 1977 TRS-80 Model I, with the 600 baud cassette tape player. It finally bit the dust around 1990.

    My favorites, though, were the Tandys I had. In 1985, my dad brought home a shiny new Tandy 1000A. He spent the money to upgrade it to dual 360K floppy disks, and bought the DRAM on the aftermarket to upgrade it to 640K. It took a lot longer to boot with 640K than it did with the factory 128K it came with.

    DOS 2.11 was the O/S at the time, and DeskMate was something revolutionary to my

  • The typical terabyte hard drive is equivalent to how many punch cards, and how much would they weight?
    --
    Ah, the smell of punch cards in the morning!

  • As a joke, I once stuck a 5.25" floppy to the refrigerator with a large magnet.

    On the floppy, a sticky note to my roommate read: "Alex. This is important information. Please keep it safe"

  • I believe the first use of the floppy was on the IBM System 360. It was used to distribute changes to the microcode. That would have been in the early to mid 1960s.
  • I worked there for three months, got paid little more than minimum wage, not too bad as living expenses were not as high like they are now. This was the flexible disk plant at Central Expwy and San Tomas (I think) in Santa Clara, right there in Silicon Valley when this place was rockin. Rest of country may have been in the gutter in 1979 but here in Santa Clara Valley you would never know. Lots of places hiring, engineers can name their own price. Assemblers hired with no experience necessary. My first job

  • ...the look on a friend's face when he learned a 5.25" floppy could hold 170k of data.
    ...the look on that same friend's face when I showed him how to use a hole punch to double the amount of data.
    ...how proud I was of my filing systems, which allowed me to find the right disk for a particular file in just minutes.
    ...spending extra $$$ on the higher-quality Loran and Elephant brand disks because I wanted to be sure they would last forever

    And my favorite memory is...

    ...keeping a binder full of my floppies

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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