floppy disk drive

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floppy disk drive

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

floppy disk

An earlier, reusable magnetic storage medium and drive introduced by IBM in 1971. Officially a "diskette," it was nicknamed "floppy" because the first varieties were housed in bendable jackets. In the late 1970s, the floppy was the first personal computer storage medium. Although computers with hard disks emerged in the 1980s, they had at least one floppy drive for distributing applications, backup and data transfer between machines. By the mid-1990s, the floppy gave way to the CD-ROM for software distribution, while local networks and the Internet became popular for backup and data exchange.

Like Magnetic Tape
The floppy's recording surface was a circular platter of magnetically coated plastic similar to magnetic tape, except that both sides were recordable. The drive grabbed and spun the platter inside its jacket, while the read/write head contacted the surface through an opening. At 300 RPM, floppies rotated considerably slower than a hard disk, and they came to a complete stop when there was no read/write activity.

Format Before Writing
Every new floppy had to be "formatted," which divided the disk into sectors (see format program). However, by looking at the external jacket, one could not always discern the recording format. See magnetic disk.
FLOPPY TYPES                  Storage Capacity                   Highest/LowestYear  Jacket Type       MB/KB   Creator
 1986  3.5" rigid      1.44/400  Sony
 1976  5.25" flexible   1.2/100  Shugart
 1971  8" flexible      1.2/100  IBM

The Common Floppy Versions
Although ubiquitous in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the bendable 5.25" floppy was surpassed by the rigid 3.5" floppy in the late 1980s.

Anatomy of a 3.5" Floppy
The magnetic disk rotated between two liners inside the plastic jacket.

A Floppy-Based Computer
Floppy-based computers such as this Kaypro portable were the rage in the early 1980s. The computer was booted with the operating system floppy in the first drive, and the second drive was used for applications.

Handwriting on the Wall
This 1999 headline foretold the floppy's future obsolescence. (Article headline courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

No Wonder
The arrow points to a microSD card resting on one 3.5" floppy. MicroSD capacities have reached 512GB, the equivalent of 365,000 floppies. See microSD.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Most computer shoppers will need a monitor and floppy disk drive with an entry-level computer like the Microtel SYSMAR701.
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Zhu Guoqiang, Wu Jinsong and Yang Jinping filed the suit May 25, claiming that Toshiba has known for 10 years about a defect in some of its floppy disk drive controllers, hid the fact, failed to act to fix it and thereby caused damage to consumers.
There is no floppy disk drive but four Universal Serial Bus ports instead of traditional serial ports "offering an advanced form of Plug and Play" said the company.
It transfers digital data to a PC's 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, without the need for cables.
Rasa also noted that IBM's D1N comes with a floppy disk drive "unlike our friend's in California," referring to Apple's popular -- albeit floppy-less -- iMac.
A new, modular design based on the dual processor platform permits the 486 DX4-100MHz processor, DSP-based motion control, floppy disk drive and 1.6GB hard drive to be incorporated into the operating console.
Minimum Setup: If you are on a tight budget, you could get by with the following minimum setup: * an IBM[R] personal computer or clone (PC, XT, AT, PS/2 Model 25 or 30) or equivalent (any 8088-, 80286-, 80386-, 80486-based computer with Industry Standard expansion slots) * one 5.25" or 3.5" floppy disk drive * an available expansion slot in the computer * at least 640K of RAM * version 2.1 or higher of MS-DOS or equivalent.
Gateway 2000 features a modular internal CD-ROM in the Solo portable, which is interchangeable with a modular 3.5-inch floppy disk drive or an option bay cover.
It has 8 MB of main memory, a 1.44 MB floppy disk drive, and a 400 MB hard disk drive.
HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS: Minimal 512K RAM, floppy disk drive, CGA or better, DOS.
Additional external storage capacity is available through the floppy disk drive. A printer port is provided.