August 29th, 2012 ~ by admin

The History of the Floppy Disk

Shugart SA400 Floppy Drive

The HP Input Output Blog has a nice write up on the floppy disk/drive.  A very interesting read about a device many took for granted, and many of today’s generation did not ever get to experience.  Many do not realize its humble beginnings, and the importance that Steve Jobs, ‘the bum in the lobby,’ played in the 5.25″ floppy becoming a standard.  The 5.25″, holding twice what a 8″ floppy could, was developed by Shugart Associated in 1976.  Shugart went on to become Seagate, known today for their hard drives.  Hard drives that can store over 2 Terabytes of information.  The original 5.25″ floppy? 160K, per side.  An 8 inch? 80K a side.  Interestingly enough, it was sometime before the Floppy Drive Controller (FDC) was integrated onto a single chip.  Many original Shugarts used an Intel 8080 CPU for drive processing.  The Commodore 64’s famous 1541 Floppy Drive ran its own 6502 type CPU, and was designed in such away you could actually load code directly to the floppy drive 6502.  In the 1990’s attempts were made to increase the capacity, speed, and versatility of the floppy.  Apple created a 2.88MB 3.5 inch floppy that never really caught on.  There was the LS-120 drive which could use normal 1.44MB disks as well as special 120MB disks (was handy, but so few people had them, they had limited use).  Ultimately, like most all technology the floppy has passed by the way side, today’s floppy is the USB Flash drive, holding many gigs of data for only a few dollars.  And like the floppy, flash drives are used commonly for sneakernetting files around the office.  Perhaps the mbile version of the floppy is the Micro-SD card, remember when Sony built a camera with a 1.44MB floppy drive built in?  Not een large enough to store the picture from a cell phone camera today.


Head on over and check out the article, its a fascinating story….

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