Talk:Floppy disk/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


Divide history and structure sections

I'm thinking of refactoring & merging the "History" and "structure" sections, so "history" is subdivided into "8 inch", "5 1/4 inch", "3.5 inch". What does everyone else think? -- Tarquin 11:31 Sep 10, 2002 (UTC)

I don't know where 8 inch disks originated, but for 5 1/4 inch I have heard it was originally pushed by Apple for the Apple ][ computers, and that the manufacturer of the disk drive was a company named Shugart (named after its founder?) which later became Seagate. Somewhat later, Apple again pioneered the 3.5 inch drive for the MacIntosh (at least in the US market?) I think creating sections based on these different standards is a good idea.

Seagate was another co founded by same guy (Alan Shugart). I think it has now bought Shugart Assoc. It's a complex corporate and patent history. IBM sued Shugart over the floppy since it was their design. ww 17:17, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Kibs/Mibs vs KBs/MBs

There appears to be an inconsistant use of these units in the article. There should only be one type in the article. I know the differnece between them, but most people are only familar with KB and MB. Krik 15:00, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I agree. That said, I sure wonder how KiBs and MiBs (in principle a Good Thing) are going to fare, given the 'measurement unit conservatism' residing in people like myself. :) Totally ambivalent, I regulary find myself being slightly annoyed at people insisting on inches, feet and pounds, instead of once and for all embracing metric units. Oh well... --Wernher 23:06, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm 99% sure IBM used 2.8 meg floppies, too

The article refers to them as having been used in the NeXT machine, but I'm almost certain that one of IBM's machines, the high-end model of the original PS/2's IIRC used them as well. No time to check right now, though. Dpbsmith 22:38, 4 May 2004 (UTC)

I remember seeing workstations at my university that were marked as supporting them, in the mid-90s. I think they were IBMs. -- Tarquin 19:37, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
100% sure - the IBM PS/2 Model 50 came with a 2.88 meg drive and, if you weren't very careful when formatting a diskette, would happily produce diskettes that other machines with 3.5 inch drives could not read. Scott Mueller's "Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 2nd Ed." says that Toshiba started producing the 2.88 Meg diskette in 1989 and that MS DOS 5 and up supported them. --Wtshymanski 20:22, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
IBM offered a 2.88M drive as an option on many of their Thinkpad laptops as well as in the PS/2 computer line and other computer models. But as IBM was practically the only company attempting to push 2.88M, it failed to supplant the 1.44M disk. Had IBM, Compaq, Gateway and Apple made a 2.88M drive the only floppy available on all their computers, it could've achieved the scale needed to come down in price to replace the 1.44M disk.

More data on 20 cm (8 inch) disks

Some of the 8-inch floppies held more data than 160K. Xerox released a CP/M machine, the 820, which had double-sided variations, as well as "double-density" and "super-density". --Robert Merkel 10:01 30 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Southwest Technical Products produced an 8" drive system (ca 78 or 79 and continuing into the mid 80s) which stored 1.2 MBs per disk (2 sides, double density). Several other personal computer vendors did the same. ww 17:18, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Swapped pictures

the pictures are swapped...when you click on the 5 1/4" disk, the 3.1/2" pic pops up...and vice versa

-Chris Cino, GE Ion Track, Sept 29, 2003

I did that to connect the two related images -- Tarquin

Standarize fractional

I guess we should rather standardise on a single notation for 'fractional' floppy disk sizes, i.e., either    3.5" & 5.25"    or    3½" & 5¼".    It would certainly make the article seem more encyclopedic :-)One should of course include the alternative notation as well, to signify its existence.
-- Wernher 23:58, 29 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I have reverted the raw fraction characters to HTML entities because meta:MediaWiki User's Guide: Creating special characters#Unsafe characters. --Yath 21:13, 30 May 2004 (UTC)

I have changed all references to 3.5 and 5.25 to 3½ and 5¼ respectively (in the main article, not this Talk: page :-). I have also added an explanation to that start of the relevant chapters regarding this. Frodet 17:15, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Downscaling the 9cm (3.5 inc photo)

How about downscaling the photo of the 3½" disk drive relative to the photo of the 5¼" drive, so that it doesn't incorrectly look like the former is of equal or bigger size than the latter? A good example to follow is the diskette photos earlier in the article.  -- Wernher 22:22, 3 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Good idea. Also of course the article is begging for photos of an 8" disk and disk drive. Perhaps a collector could take a single snapshot of all 3 disks together and all 3 drives together to indicate scale correctly. Tempshill 05:31, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

oxide coatings

Another advance in the oxide coatings allowed for a new "extended-density" ("ED") format at 2.88MB introduced on the second generation NeXT Computers in 1991, but by the time it was available it was already too small to be a useful advance over 1.44, and never became widely used.

Is this really the story? IT departments worldwide throughout all of the 1990s probably would have appreciated 2.88MB floppies. Tempshill 05:55, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Yes, that sounds correct. I remember that 2.88M floppies did exist, but no one really used them. Hard disk technology was more coming into its own then, I think? Dysprosia 05:58, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I remember the machines at my college could take 2.88. Though I thought at the time it was called XD for "extended-density". (stupid name anyway!) I don't think I ever saw any disks though! -- Tarquin 09:36, 6 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Yep, I bought 2.88s at OfficeMax and used them in the NeXT slab where I worked. That's the only machine I can remember that would read them.

Does anyone remember enough about the 10-inch floppy disk to include something about them in the article? (They did exist, here's a picture. They were current in the early '80s, I used them on some sort of TI mini.) - Hephaestos 23:00, 1 Jan 2004 (UTC)

The 2.88 3.5" floppies were the consequence of Fujitsu (or Toshiba, I can't remember which) discovering a way to do vertical recording on floppy membrane media. They used barium oxide as the magnetic media and required special r/w heads and electronics. IBM adopted them for some of their PC machines (probably in the ill fated patented bus they introduced for the some of the PS/2 machines) and a few others used them as well. The disks were expensive (more than 2x the cost of HD disks) and the drives were too. They were never adopted by enough folks to gain much economy of scale and so the price never dropped enough... And then there were the hard drives which were much higher capacity, very much faster, and not too much more expensive. ww 17:24, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
When 2.88 disks came out, there were already a number of different floppy-type drives and media that could store about 20 megabytes on a 3.5" disk. None of these ideas had the critical mass to become a de facto standard until 1995, when Iomega figured out how to attach an external drive to a computer via the parallel port, and introduced their Zip disk. Samboy 22:43, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)

25 cm (10 inch) floppies?

The comment above by Hephaestos about "10-inch" floppy discs is probably actually about "8-inch" floppies. The photo he links to is actually a composite of three discs, but is incorrectly labelled. It looks much more like a '8" / 5.25" / 3.5"' photo. Were it relabelled (ie the caption removed), it would answer the comment by Tempshill about a composite photo (pity they are superimposed, though. - Tim

I also have a couple of 3" double sided floppies from an Oric Atmos (but no drive), but have no camera (or login) - Tim

Wiki metrification

Metrified the article. Imperial equivalents are given in brackets. I hope this helps US readers to familiarize with the metric system. It is good practise to keep old imperial sizes for future reference.

Because 5.25"=13.34 cm= 133.4 mm I've decided to round to the nearest centimetre. I feel some readers would be discouraged if they found 133 mm references everywere. even if it is not 100% acurate, it's easier to read 13 cm, than 133.4 mm.


I hope this helps US readers to familiarize with the metric system. - this sounds very much like a political manoeuvre of an utterly POV kind - why on earth should US readers need or want your 'help' in becoming 'familiarized' with the metric system, and moreover, why on earth should wikipedia be complicit in this? As far as I was aaware, wipedia policy on this matter was units used should be in context and, rather like the policy on British/Amaerican spelling, should not be changed simply to make articles "American" or "European". '13 cm floppies' is an absurd name, and no one but the most avowed and fanatical metricist would know what you were going on about. By all means specify the size in millimetres in the text of the article if you wish - it provides additional information - but changing the names is nothing but an attempt to politicise wikipedia, and is POV in the extreme. 80.255 12:23, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Metrification is fine, when it's appropriate, but I strongly suggest that it not be done when it obscures things - the use of the name "3 1/2" and "5 1/4" are synonymous with these sizes of disk. If you ask someone for a 9 cm disk, I would reckon they wouldn't have a clue what you're talking about... Dysprosia 11:55, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Then, would it be ok if I wrote the other way around, that is, first imperial, then metric in brackets? For instance :3 1/2 (90mm), 8 inch (13 cm) TheWikipedian 13:58 GMT+2

I think that would be perfectly all right, once, at its first mention. Dysprosia 12:00, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Quite right. It's quite silly to start trying to call things by new names that no-one uses. A five and a quarter inch floppy disc is called a five and a quarter inch floppy disc. That's its name. Sure, mention that it's 13cm across once, but call it by name. Tannin 12:01, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)
What are they called in fully metric places? Surely not 3.5 inch disks! In any case, it is well to remember that Congress made the US officially metric sometime in the late 1800s. The news just takes a while to get around. ww 17:26, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
In Germany the terms 3,5zoll and 5,25zoll where commonly used (cm where never used when refering to media). --Anonymous
As in Norway (also a "fully metric place"). Actually, I myself, being a computer geek since the early eighties, never heard of "metric designations" on floppies until reading about them in this very article. :-) --Wernher 21:21, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It might be worth noting the external link regarding the sizes (3.5 inch discs are NOT 3.5 inches.. they were actually specified in mm) but the names of the discs should be in imperial obviously.

on a related note it would be good to note the overall physical dimensions of the discs (WxDxH)... here would be a valid time to use both imperial and metric.. and I am not aware of a wikipedia standard on the use of cm but (in the uk at least) mm should be used instead..

Not ready for a metric disk??

I don't agree that the reason the 3½ inch floppy was advertised and marketed as such, instead of calling it a 90 mm disk (which reflects its actual design), was due to the fact that the public was "not ready", as the article states.

After all, the public was "ready" for 35 mm film and 2 liter bottles of cola. The disk could just as easily have been advertised as a 90 mm disk. It was probably more of a marketing decision based on the fact that Apple Computers was an American company, and the fact that they were trying to emphasize how this new disk, which was standard in their new Macintosh computer, was smaller than the existing 5¼ inch disk.

Steggall 19:23, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

That partly supports my point; almost nobody would have noticed (implied by the name), that a 9 cm or 90 mm disk would be smaller than the previous 5¼". And until today, there are e.g. still 17", 21".. monitors and nobody seems to care about metric in that field at all, at least as far as names are concerned. (Not that it bothers me, I do know what a 17" looks like :) --Palapala 05:47, 2004 May 22 (UTC)
Like spelling in English, the whole thing makes little sense. And consider that even in Europe (a fully metric region) spark plugs are still sized in imperial units. Homer Simpson would be proud. ww 17:28, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)
In the same vein, look at car wheel sizes. Except for a few odd ones, in most of the world tires/tyres and wheels/rims come in exact inches at the diameter where the tire mounts to the wheel. Michelin attempted to market a fully metric tire and wheel combination called TRX. It was quite the failure, due to consumer resistance to change and the higher prices and lack of choice in replacement tires. Curiously, there are still TRX sized tires currently available over 25 years since TRX was available on new cars. (Hmmm, the Michelin article says nothing about TRX.)

Shape of floppy disc

The following para was deleted without reasons.

The shape of a floppy disc is usually approximately a square but not exactly so, for example the 3½" disk is around 90 cm x 93 cm. The main reason for this is to make it impossible for the floppy to be put in the wrong direction into the drive. Though this might seem an obvious fact, this was an innovation in design that was not there from the beginning.

Whoever did this , couldn't you give reasons or discuss before deleting someone else's contribution? Regarding its veracity, I am 100 percent sure. Maybe it requires rewording KRS 12:50, 28 May 2004 (UTC)

Well, as you could easily see from the page's history, I did. But not without reason: (1) early floppy disks were square, not "approximately" so; (2) the 3½" disk is "not around 90 cm x 93 cm" but of the dimension stated earlier in the article (90.0×94.0 mm); (3) and as far as the "innovation" goes, the retention spring had to go somewhere (okay, the disk wouldn't fit in sideways, not being square anymore, agreed). If I happened to have hurt your feelings, I herewith apologize. --Palapala 16:51, 2004 May 28 (UTC)
Maybe there are technical reasons, but the primary one is ergonomic and it was not thought about at all for a long time. KRS 01:38, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

Actually the fact that a floppy can only be inserted in one direction is worth mentioning, since it was expounded upon with great admiration in the HCI expert Donald Norman's book The Design of Everyday Things. Perhaps even a fair-use quote is in order.

Derrick Coetzee 00:30, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

Thanks!!! I thought I will wait until I find the source. KRS 01:38, 29 May 2004 (UTC)

IBM team vs Nakamats(u) as inventors

I notice that Nakamats(u)'s claim to have invented the floppy disk is disputed at many internet sites. Because of this, and in order to preserve the prose flow of the article, I moved the passage about Nakamats(u) below the IBM/Shugart paras. --Wernher 18:53, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Great article ... but where are the references?

I agree with the banner at the top of talk that this is an excellent example of an article except for one point ... a lack of references. Could the people who added information consider adding salient references for their material? I think that would go a ways in increasing my confidence in the large amount of factual data included here. Thanks. Courtland {2005-01-23}

Follow-up ... less than 24 hours after I posted this, a kind soul added a number of references to the article. Thanks! Courtland {2005-01-23}

Dangerous trivium deleted

Someone entered an item in the trivia section saying that viewing a solar eclipse through a floppy disk (removed from its protective casing) was totally safe for avoiding eye damage. This is incorrect and might even lead people unwittingly to destroy their eyes! I therefore deleted the item. See, for instance, the following extract from (three quarters down) the page Using Safe Solar Observing Methods at the web site of Continental Capers Travel Center, Inc.:

"Filters made from sunglasses, Polaroid filters, smoked or dark glass, typical photographic neutral density filters, CDs, floppy disk media, cellophane and mylar food packaging, undeveloped film, color films, slides or negatives, X-ray films with images, and chromogenic photographic emulsions are not safe! These filters may transmit dangerous amounts of ultraviolet or infrared radiation even if the filter appears opaque. They may also have small pinholes or non-uniform coatings that can allow unsafe amounts of light through."

--Wernher 17:57, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Good catch — in fact, this is such a dangerous popular myth that I decided to add it back in debunked form, with links explaining why it's a bad idea. Deco 02:23, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Did 3" DD (720K) disks ever exist?

Can someone provide a source/example or at least an announcement that such a format has existed or has at least been planned? I never heard of it, and Amstrads/Spectrums were limited to 360KB or less. Maybe some connection with MSX systems, which used 720 3½ floppies right from the start? EpiVictor 13:38, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

it shuold be noted that at least from 5¼ inch onwards all the drives spun at the same speed and used the same hardware interface. So it wouldn't need a 720K 3 inch standard as such just a controller that could do 720K and a drive of high enough quality to support the data rate. Plugwash 16:26, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes but have there even been 3" drives with a hardware controller similar to the 3½ one or at least capable of coping with denser tracks/higher data rate? At least the Amstrad drives were cleary 5¼ -based (down to the point of using an identical format for both 3" and 5¼ disks), but what about 3½ ??? Have there EVER been DD disks (with better magnetic medium) and capable drives? Have they even been used in some system? EpiVictor 12:44, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)
At least the Amstrad PCW8512 and PCW9512 used 720 KB floppies. I have updated the Amstrad PCW entry to reflect that. Frodet 16:31, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
and there was also double density stuff for the beeb and i'm sure 3 inch floppy drives were sold as suitable for use with that. Plugwash 03:30, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Origin of 5.25 inch Form Factor

Is there an inconsistency in the history section on 'the 5¼-inch minifloppy'? The first paragraph on Burroughs says of 1975 'to reflect the knowledge that IBM's audio recording products division was demonstrating a dictation machine using 5.25" disks.' The next paragraph has the story of the napkin as the origin of the size happening in 1976. :Hcharles 07:04, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I find the former story more credible. The latter is probably an urban legend. I have no evidence though. Deco 00:43, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

5.25 inch floppy disk capacities/formats on the IBM PC family

There were a variety of formats for 5.25 inch disks on the IBM PC, some of which are not reflected in this article. Sizes/formats were:

 8 sector, 40 track, 1 side =  160 kb
 9 sector, 40 track, 1 side =  180 kb
 8 sector, 40 track, 2 side =  320 kb
 9 sector, 40 track, 2 side =  360 kb
17 sector, 80 track, 2 side = 1200 kb

The first four were commonly called "double density"; the last was "quad density".

The format command included switches to force any of these formats (see the help screens of DOS 6.22). However a 360 kb or less diskette formatted in a 1200 kb drive often could not be read by a 360 kb drive. The explanation I recall was that the 1200 kb drive's tracks were physically narrower than those of a 360 kb drive, too narrow to be read accurately by the wider gap in the 360 kb drive head. --Jm546

yes an 80 track drive double stepped to 40 (whether by software or by a hardware 40/80 switch) can cause problems with real 40 track drives sometimes due to the narrower head. Plugwash 22:11, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

My formatted 3.5" MSDOS disks have different sizes...

and that is, 1,457,664 bytes! Nothing with 1.47-something MB! I reckon that the KiB/MiB nonsense is the greatest bullsh*t in IT history (Die IEC!), hence I will calculate in traditional units. Let 1 MB be 1 KB x 1 KB, that is 1,048,576 bytes. 1,457,664 divided by this size gives about 1.39 MB, augmented by roughly 1/10000. Hence in good ol' MB (1 KB squared), the size is about 1.39, not 1.47.

You are confusing two things; Firstly, the reason you get 1,457,664 bytes is because the FAT file system has an overhead of 16,896 bytes. This totals to 1,474,560 - hence ~1.47 MB. Secondly: 1,474,560 bytes / 1,024 bytes = 1,440 KiB (or 1.40625 MiB).
IMO the biggest problem with the IEC reccomendation is they introduced the unambiguos KiB/MiB/GiB but they decided that KB/MB/GB were fine for the decimal prefixes. This means that we still have no unambiguous way to reffer to the decimal prefix without using extra words or adding riders to our documents. Plugwash 22:10, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

FDS "Disk Cards"

Could someone add information on the floppy disks used by the Famicom Disk System? I don't know much about them outside what is said about them on the FDS article --Zilog Jones 18:11, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I added a new "Mistumi Quick Disk" format subsection under the 3" format subsection. They appear to be 3" or 2.5" floppies in a 3" x 4" casing, and resemble the standard 3" disks in that they're double sided, but nothing exceptional. A link to photos is available, too. EpiVictor 19:01, 27 September 2005 (UTC)


How much does a 3.5" floppy disk actually weigh? --Anonymous

According to my old letter scale, around 17 g (~ 0.6 oz).  --Wernher 12:58, 3 November 2005 (UTC)


I hate floppies. I had a some data backed up on my floppy. Brand New Disk. I put it in a sealed plastic bag and never touched it. A year later, i tried to retrieve it and it had gone to hell. Fark Floppies.

Floppies can be unpredictable, true, but there are exceptions: e.g. none of my old Verbatim Datalife Plus floppies dating back to 1994 (with teflon coating) ever failed once (and I still use them), while some other brands had got bad floppies right out of the box. More remarkably, I still use a 15+ year old floppy originally used in a single-sided 360K 3.5" floppy on an XT, then used as DD and then "upgraded" to HD by drilling an extra identification hole. It still works, and has no bad sectors. On the other hand, a cousin of mine kept his floppies "well protected"...but near his stereo's speakers, and wondered why they all failed.. EpiVictor 21:54, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
A slightly off-topic, but related note: After buying huge amounts of old original C64 games and other software floppies and cassette tapes on eBay (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Austr, NZ, ...), I have found that the tapes are more likely to read correctly than the floppies. I must admit I didn't quite expect this, since I thought the tapes might be vulnerable to magnetic field 'seep-thru' effects (i.e. the stored mag. pattern affecting the piece of the tape loop lying above and below them in the roll of tape; typically not having been rewound for a decade or two). Floppies, of course, wouldn't have that particular disadvantage.
As mentioned, however, it seems the old tapes for some reason are more reliable than the floppies. Might this be due to the low data density on C64 tapes? I'm not sure of that either, as I have many other tapes with software stored in several of the Turbo Tape formats---formats which I assume have a higher data density(?). Any comments on these issues would be welcomed. --Wernher 21:38, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, I don't know how reliable commercial C64 tapes used to be, but copied Spectrum and Amstrad CPC ones were notoriously unreliable, giving a lot of block read errors and were generally unreadable on different tape players/recorders (Amstrads suffered somehow less of this problem since they all used the same built-in "datacorders" ) but in general exchanging home-copied and home-brew tapes required head azimuth adjustment each time. Tapes are, however, resistant over time, and most errors were (and are) due to head azimuth or equipment quality, rather than time deterioration. The data density on those tapes (even turbo-saved ones) is generally much lower than 9600 kbaud/sec, which even lowly ferric oxide tapes can handle and retain for a long time. In the case of the C64 you mentioned, you are essentially comparing tapes to 5.25" floppies, which are way more unreliable than 3" or 3.5". E.g., almost all 3" CPC disks I have still work.
IMHO, a factor that has increased floppy unreliability nowadays, especially as a portable medium, is the widespread use of cell phones, which many of us carry in our pockets or in bags near floppies. Each cell phone contains at least one magnet (for it's speaker) and emits strong EM radiation at close distances, which can be picked up by the floppies' metallic parts and oxide, thus disrupting data. EpiVictor 12:24, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

5.25 inch floppies

hey whats up everybody —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

The Background section incorrectly states that 5.25" quad-density disks had a 1.2 Mbyte capacity. The article as a whole is interesting and detailed, but the table in the background section is terrible. I think that it should be removed. - AndrewBall 02:26, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Is yet another MiB vs MB vs "Mega-bytes" dispute or you're saying the figure is totally wrong and there has never ever been a 5.25" format even close to 1.2 MB? Also, in what way is the table "terrible"? EpiVictor 10:01, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the table can be improved and may do it if and as I have the time. The problem is both MiB vs MB AND formatted versus unformatted capacities. I think the specific 5.25" FD in question would be called a DSQD FD and have 2 sides, 77 tracks/side, 15 sectors/track, 512 bytes/sector (i.e., the 8" DSDD geometry) for an exact gross formatted capacity of 1,182,720 bytes or 1.2MB. Unformatted I believe the capacity was 1.6MB. YE Data shipped the first such drive in 1982 and I corrected the web site. Because in the early days, the same disk could have a variety of formated capacities, I have been slowly fixing the table to draw the distinction between the unformatted capacity which is the disk manufacturers specification and the various formatted capacities in different applications.Tom94022 21:35, 13 January 2007 (UTC)
The 5¼" DSQD diskettes that I used (in drives such as the Teac FD-55F) were 80 track, double-sided, 9 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector, 720 Kbyte drives. I also used 5¼" DSHD diskettes (on the PC/AT and in drives such as the Teac FD-55G) that were 80 track, double-sided, 15 sectors per track, 512 bytes per sector, 1,200 Kbyte drives. AndrewBall 04:25, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Archival, lifetime, refreshing

I think it would be a really good idea to include some information about how long floppies last, how often they should be refreshed etc. Cached 06:45, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

"1 MB = 1,000 KB for floppy storage"

Calling 1440 KB 1.44 MB is a simple error, nothing more. Stating "1 MB = 1,000 KB for floppy storage" is unnecessary. Do we say "pi = 3 for biblical history"? Or "2 + 2 = 5 for confused kindergarteners"? No, we just say that someone made an error. The table at the top of the article is broken at this time. --Yath 01:28, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)

it's not nice i agree but calling it a mistake when every single manufacturer that sells the things uses it doesn't seem right either.
the fact is mega=kilo*kilo and kilo has two different meanings in computing. If you think of megabyte as kilo-kilo byte and understand that one of the kilos comes from the arbitary measures of the particular disk size and the other from twice the fundamental sector size it makes perfect sense Plugwash 02:32, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It makes sense only when considered an error. I'm going to remove it from the article. --Yath 05:59, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Like it or not it is the normal way of reffering to those disk sizes i've changed the body of the table to use kilobytes only and put a somewhat reworded note at the bottom what do you think of it now? Plugwash 12:53, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

A 3/4 inch pipe has no dimension that is 3/4 of an inch. A 2 x 5 at the lumber yard is no-where near 2" by 4" in section. "Trade" sizes may not match physical dimensions of products but are a useful short-cut for product identification. --Wtshymanski 20:05, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Ahh! Your all wrong! 1mb is 1024 kb or 2^10. Definatly worth mentioning.--Ewok Slayer 16:42, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Look, can we just settle this with a statement to whit: A typical "2mb unformatted, 1.44mb formatted" disc provides 1423.5KiB (1,457,664 bytes) of user storage, or 1440KiB (80 tracks x 18 sectors x 2 sides x 512 bytes per sector per side) minus 16.5KiB (33 sectors worth) of FAT/other filesystem information? It's quite simply more complicated than all the preceding argument. Or if you want it in more modern terms, it's 1.390MiB - I am VERY well acquianted with the acutal sizes, having used Microsoft format DSHDs to do a hell of a lot of slow, protracted multi site, multi megabyte spanned-ZIP/RAR sneakernetting back in the day. A fresh box of ten, assuming no errors, will let you carry almost exactly 13.90MiB of compressed data including the minimal compression-format and spanning overheads. Now cut it out before I take your toys away!

DSDDs are a bit stranger as they seem to offer 1024-byte sectors instead of the 512-byte ones on DSHDs ... they have a smaller FAT and link the sectors on each side or something. "720KiB" from 80 x 9 x 2 x 512 gets you either 712 or 713KiB of actual user data, I can't remember which (7 or 8KiB and 7 or 8 sectors (equiv to 14 or 16 DSHD) given over to FAT, etc)... for some reason I'm drawn to 713. (talk) 04:00, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

800kB 3.5" Macintosh disks?

This site lists some early Macintosh computers (Mac Plus, Mac SE) as using "800kB" 3.5" floppy disks. They don't seem to be mentioned in the article (the only 800 kB 3.5" disks mentioned are for the Commodore 128). If anyone knows how they fit in, please add them to the article. —Steven G. Johnson 15:10, Apr 17, 2005 (UTC)

probablly a format for DD disks The pc formats were quite conservative compared to other formats around at the time. The archimedies version of ADFS also did 800K on dd disks. User:Plugwash
The Mac is mentioned in the "Using the disk space efficiently" section. "400 KB per side". The first version was single sided. Mirror Vax 17:23, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Applie II, Commodore, Victor Sirius 9000, and classic Macs did not use MFM for recording on diskette but rather one or another type of GCR - a different way of writing data to the diskette. A GCR format allowed a bit more data on a diskette but was incompatible with MFM-only data separators. Later Mac's had both types of data separator installed so that they could read both their own and PC-compatible disk formats. --Wtshymanski 20:29, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Although it's a common belief, it's not true that GCR provided more storage - just the opposite. GCR formats that allow two 1s (transitions) in a row run at half the clock speed of MFM, which doesn't allow two 1s in a row. Thus MFM is the more efficient format. Mirror Vax 20:51, 1 May 2005 (UTC)
Would it be more nearly correct to say that GCR gave more data on a disk than FM (what we used to call single-density)? And 800 K is more than 720 K, is it not? In the CP/M days many machines put 390K on what a PC formatted as a 360K diskette, so the difference is not huge anyway. I understood GCR was picked for the Apple II because it didn't need a very complex data separator...I wonder why GCR didn't become more popular. It was a great drawback for some people who only had GCR data separators on their machines because they could never exchange disks with people locked into FM or MFM. (The standard IBM PC disk controller couldn't do FM (single density) disks, either.) --Wtshymanski 23:57, 2 May 2005 (UTC)
Yes, GCR is superior to FM, but inferior to MFM. The Mac got 800K because of the variable motor speed. On the inner tracks, the Mac only had 8 sectors - less than the standard 9 for the PC. The Mac controller is just a single-chip version of the Apple II controller. This article explains FM/MFM: [1] - Mirror Vax 01:25, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
btw the acorn archimedies also did 800K on dd floppies (and 1600K on HD floppies in its last incarnations) and i'm pretty damn sure that didn't use a special drive of any kind. Plugwash 15:06, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
The Amiga did 880K on DD and 1.76M on HD floppies, you could just buy DOS formatted ones and reformat them to work with the amiga. Again no reference to this in the article David Griffith 22:46, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
The original System and applications software diskettes shipped with the original Macintosh had slightly rounded ends in the head access slots under the protective cover. I saw that several years ago when looking at an original Macintosh (Just Macintosh, no 128K designation since the 512K model didn't exist yet) being sold at an auction. If someone could gget a picture of that for the Macintosh section it'd be a nice addition.
The Macintosh's 800kB disk was a constant linar velocity mechanism, where the drive rotated more quickly when the head was over inner tracks, to keep disk/head velocity constant. This allowed them to write more to a disk.
Actual DD/HD floppy capacities are 1MiB and 2MiB respectively. Only the IBM PCAT's brain-dead floppy disk controller required so much space for formatting metadata that around a third of the disk was lost. Systems with direct hardware level floppy access (NOT a PC) could use much more space, an example is the Amiga which was 880k/1.76MiB by default and had aftermarket filesystem drivers to increase that to 960/1.92MiB, uncompressed and on standard disks.
This article is PC-centric, and has no right to be Wayne Hardman 17:33, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

3-inch floppies in Smith-Corona word processors

For a short time, Smith-Corona used a 3-inch floppy disk format which was not quite the same as the one used by Amstrad. I don't have much information handy on this, but I do recall the disk being hard plastic, square, and with one corner "cut" diagonally like its 3½ inch cousin, but without a sliding dust cover door. -- Todd Vierling 16:49, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Smith-Corona used a 3"x3" Quick Disk system labeled, DataDisk 2.8", in some of their word processors.

The FDS is a 3"x4" Quick Disk, other MSX/8-bit computer and Midi keyboards presumably use the 3"x3" and Smith Corona uses a 3"x3" but labeled 2.8"

Would like to see a seperate page on Quick Disk just to list all the technical details and various systems that used drive(s) available for each format so as to unclutter & lighten this section but keep the tech specs avail. 05:51, 21 January 2006 (UTC) (what's with this thing---can't keep me signed in!??!)

Grave ambiguities

Measuremente units are still ambiguous in the article. Measurements are given in both traditional and metrical systems, without stating which one is the precise one and which the approximation. Worse, capacity is given in round numbers followed by both decimal and binary units without stating which one is the correct one.

There is a historical aspect on this. At the time of introduction and martketing of these devices the only designation in use was KB (often just K), or MB later on. So for historical reasons it makes sense to use the KB/MB notation. I even believe that the HiFD format was marked as 150/200 MB formats. However, I do agree that the accurate figures should go somewhere. What I propose to do is to introduce a table for each physical format (a single table for all formats would get too big) giving a (hopefully) clear view of the different logical formats available, but use the terms KB and MB consistently throught the prose. Any objections? Frodet 21:40, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
I had plannned to include tables like this in the main article. How do the rest of you feel about that? It might be a bit too big....perhaps a separate article?
Table took up too much space and was purged, see Table of 8-inch floppy formats.

DEC RX01 and RX01 formats are ALWAYS single-sided. DEC never offered double-sided 8-inch drives. There were rumors of a double-sided RX03, but it was never available as a product. Some third-parties offered double-sided drives, but when used in a double-sided mode, it was not correct to refer to it as RX01 or RX02 format since such a disk couldn't be read in an RX01 or RX02 drive. --Brouhaha 00:37, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't know where I had the original information from. I'll look again, but you are probably correct. --Frodet 10:40, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

It's definately needed but the "Floppy Disk" article is already too long[2]. Create a new page "Floppy Disk Technical Specifications"-??? Maybe look around wikipedia and see how they handled it already, but this content is definately useful to post ASAP. Get David Wilson's data and add it too: Dcsutherland 06:08, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Encouraged by this, I'll do what you suggest soonish. Thanks. :) --Frodet 10:40, 21 January 2006 (UTC)


I came to the article looking for the standard floppy drive read speed, which the article states as being "500 kilobaud." Kilobaud? This is an article about floppy disks, not RS-232, right? How about using the more modern KB/sec (or even Kb/sec) metric?

That is a figure I found in the famous fdformat floppy disk formatting utility. Along with other parameters, one could choose between two data rates, specified in Baud, 500 KBaud or 250 KBaud for DD drives. The fact that the data is expressed in Baud merely reflects the fact that there is other (non-data) information written on a floppy disk (e.g. sector headers/stops, CRC etc.) that are read and written along with the "real" data. So, the only safe thing to say is that floppy disks read 500 KBaud (or "symbols") out of a floppy disk, whose "conversion" to real data can be tricky and very variable with one's system or floppy's format. Here's a screeshot of fdformat running on my machine, formatting a floppy. The program states it's using a "500 kBaud Data Transer Rate".

File:Floppy-kbaud.gif EpiVictor 23:33, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

A baud is a signal change per second. Due to the way single-density FM encoding adds clock bits, a 250 Kbps FM data is actually 500 kilobaud on the media. However, it is more difficult to meaningfully measure double density (MFM) encoding rate in kilobaud. Generally it is more appropriate to measure in Kbps, as others have noted. --Brouhaha 00:41, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

If this helps, I was testing out the x264 video codec trying to see what settings would achieve the highest quality at the smallest filesize at 1 MB. Anyway I ended up shoving some of the encodes onto a floppy just to see a film running off the thing. I then made encodings that would hit close to disk capacity and for it to be streamed with no hiccups is around 5KB at constant bit rate, on a bought this month fdd made by panasonic. Atirage 05:18, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

5 KB/sec seem a bit too little, even for a floppy. Considering that copying a single 1.44 "MB" file from a floppy takes around 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds, depending on the exact sector shifting used. The actual bit rate (not baud rate) would be something between 128 and 192 kbps, which would be at least 10KB/sec and 15 KB/sec accordingly. Maybe the x264 codec wasn't properly configured to be purely streaming and required lookaheads, or the data wasn't written in a perfectly sequential manner on the disk. Try formatting the disk with fdformat and the X2 Y3 parameters, to minimize access times. EpiVictor
With a stopwatch and a set of known-size files, I have it repeatably clocked at JUST enough under 16kb/s (128kbit) that you couldn't play a normal-rate mp3 from it without at least a little prebuffering (however, maybe as little as 64kb would be enough, given that it ostensibly copies under a DMA transfer --- so long as your operating system doesn't have a retarded "lock up the system!" approach to floppy transfers, like Win98 onwards have done ... i'm sure I played a 14000Hz 8bit-mono wav file of some short piece of music off one in real time under 3.11..). Aim for 15kb/s and make sure your floppy-handling routines are sound, and it should be fine. If they're NOT fine, you may need to scale your CPU use WAY back to get "decent" rates. (talk) 05:44, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

more intro

an article this long deserves a far longer intro. you shouldn't open an article like this and instantly get a huge TOC and spec table filling most of the visible screen area. Plugwash 03:50, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Atari ST had 360K 3½ disks

The original version of the Atari 520ST shipped with 360K single-sided 3½ floppy disks in 1985. (It was also not uncommon to format the disks with 10 sectors instead of 9, thereby increasing the capacity to 400K.) I don't see that configuration listed in the main table. – Doug Bell (talk/contrib) 22:26, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Another noteworthy oddity of this format is that it saved the data on the opposite side to the common single-sided IBM-compatible 3.5" type, making single sided atari and IBM discs/drives utterly incompatible (as you couldn't flip them over like you can 5.25" ones). The swiftly updated double sided versions fixed this problem. Apparently it did however make dual-format discs possible, e.g. magazine cover discs where there were a certain "main" set of programs available to all readers on "Side A", and a second set of double-sided-drive owner accessible minor programs on "Side B", accessed via a subfolder. Quite how they got this to work, I can't fathom, but probably it required some very nifty custom programming. I'd also be interested to hear anything of the 5.25" inch format that the ST could also use (the original machine not having a built-in drive, but using external drives of either 3.5 or 5.25 size plugging in through a floppy interface presumably conforming to some existing standard), which quickly died a horrible death once 3.5" was standardised by the introduction of models with internal drives. Too bad they didn't go the whole hog and include the newly-minted DSHD standard, really. (talk) 03:28, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

No mention of 3.25" Floppies or Drivetek

Back when the small floppy format was being thrashed out, one of the leading contenders was the Shugart/Dysan 3.25" Flex Diskette. Housed in a flexible jacket, it resembles a 5.25" floppy, only smaller--and the hub is a bit different. Like the 5.25" media, it uses an applied tab over a jacket notch for write protection.

Dysan's stock number for these was 802950. I have a photo of a diskette and drive, but I'm very chary about editing an article as big as this one and thoroughly messing things up.

Originally the Sony 3.5" drives (OAD-1) were single-sided, 40 track 600 RPM units--something I didn't see mentioned.

There's also no mention of the Drivetek high-capacity floppies that used a unique 2-motor (coarse and fine) head positioner that used an embedded servo technology on preformatted 5.25" diskettes to pack 160 cylinders per side for about 2.88MB. The drive could also handle normal 40 track 5.25" diskettes. Kaypro put these on the Robie for a short time. Kodak eventually purchased the assets of Drivetek in a bankruptcy sale and for a time, continued with product development to obtain about 6 MB on a floppy.

The problem with the Drivetek drives were that they required a proprietary controller and they were incapable of formatting their own diskettes--one had to purchase rather expensive preformatted ones. 09:02, 25 January 2006 (UTC)Chuck (

You appear to have a good understanding of these early formats. Please go ahead and edit: Be bold. The worst that will happen is that your edit will get reverted. You can not mess things up irrecoverable.
Hmmm......Syndex: You did the Teledisk software?
--Frodet 19:00, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
Let me get my notes together and I'll give it ago.
How does one edit images into the text? I think it might be valuable to actually show what some of these things look like.
Yeah, Teledisk (and a bunch of other diskette-based stuff) is ours. 03:47, 26 January 2006 (UTC)Chuck
Excellent! Images are always nice to illustrate a topic. To embedd an image, you first upload the file using the Upload file link to the left (typically) (or Wikimedia Commons, if you can release you image to a free license - then it will be available to any Wikimedia project). You can look at examples in the articles on how to embed images. If you need help, don't hesitate to ask.
What is the status of Teledisk these days?
--Frodet 22:41, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Archaic Technology

Shouldn't there be a section that explains how floppy drive/disk technology is far beyond archaic and how they should all be replaced by something faster, more stabe and data friendly like flash memory cards? ;) 04:06, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

I think that is clearly stated in several sections of the article, but the "legacy" component and their sheer numbers won't make them "die off" so easily, and so far all attempts at forcibly discontinuing/eliminating them were received with skepticism, at best. They are still widely used for moving small files, BIOS updates, emergency recovery boot, and having a spare floppy or two with oneself is a good idea if small data will need to be moved around, especially from places where it's not possible or not easy to use CD-R or even USB disks (and it does happen a lot). EpiVictor 11:29, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
most computers no longer have floppy drives, so carrying a floppy disk around is rather pointless.

The 3.5" disk was designed as metric

The article should more prominently mention that the so-called 3.5" disk was in fact designed purely as metric, but when introduced to Merka, it was renamed (inaccurately, at that) to the 3.5" disk because the importing company thought that no self-respecting Merkin would want to be caught dead anywhere near a pinko communist freedom-hating metric unit. JIP | Talk 17:44, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

It gets better. When PCs were sold in Europe with 3.5" floppies, they were often advertised as having "88.9 mm drives." Some metric-loving, smelly-cheese-eaten You-row-pe'n did the math to the nearest 100 microns, but couldn't be bothered to slap a ruler on one of them disk critters to see how big it really was (that would be 90 mm). --agr 21:59, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Are you sure not pissing off metric hating americans was the real reason? Highlighting the fact it was smaller than the previous standard seems a far more convincing reason to me. Plugwash 22:35, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, so why is the size of the front of the drive exactly 1" high by 4" wide?
because america is best —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:46, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

sector:shift is aka cylinder skew in HDD terms

In the "Ultimate capacity / speed" section, the term "sector:shift" is used several times, and it's the first time I've come across the term. From the description, it sounds identical to parameters known as "cylinder skew" and "head skew" in hard drive parlance.

This would be most appropriately explained at the same time as sector interleaving, another technique used on hard disks in the days when disk controllers were too slow to keep up with spinning media. A comprehensive explanation of interleave and skew would be most appropriate on Disk storage, which is just begging for some good content.

I got my understanding of interleave and skew from an old SpinRite manual, and testing with my speed-demon 8086 revealed that a 3:1 interleave was most efficient on that system. Those were the days! Anyway, the printed manual had some great illustrations, and I wonder if Steve Gibson would give permission to use them.

You are probably right about the synonimity of the terms, it's just that fdformat is the only 0to my knowledge- utility allowing to set that parameter, and it called it, arbitrarily perhaps, sector:shift. If there is a Cylinder skew article or reference, then we should link/wikilink/replace the term. EpiVictor 14:06, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Schenk & Horn CopyStar does what they call "sector sliding". It also allows creating formats with extra tracks and/or sectors. It can directly copy Microsoft's DMF disks, but can't copy IBM's 1.7M format as used for distribution media for OS/2 Warp 3.0.

Current situation update?

Each time I hear floppy disks being called obsolete my back shivers. I live in a country where they are still a necessary accesory in any computer. Other things like CD recorders are just too expensive and only a select few can have them. I'm sure that the same thing must happen in many other countries. Do you think this could be stated in that section?

USB Keys have become relatively cheap. --Disavian 19:30, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
So far, all "calls for obsolescence" have proven to be a bit too early: floppies are still necessary in e.g. emergency boots or BIOS updates (OK, there are CDs and bootable USB keys, but not all computers have support for these (especially bootable USBs) , and not all users know how to make a bootable CD or a bootable USB key). It's not a matter of how cheap USB keys or CDs are, it's that neither of them is guaranteed to be readily available and supported at a legacy device level...yet. EpiVictor 12:00, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Obsolete? I always use floppy disks to record images and documents, a disk requires a case which is hard to carry in a pocket. Anonymous

Another testimony against "floppies obsolete" theories: many small USB devices come with a series of drivers that usually don't exceed 1 MB of disk space, and two different game controllers I recently bought: one is a PSX-Dual Shock USB look-alike for PC (2005), the other a programmable arcade stick by Logic 3 (2006), and both came with their drivers on 3.5" floppies. I've seen similar products using miniCDs, but that proves that floppies aren't dead yet...the power of legacy, I suppose :-) EpiVictor 21:35, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

I've repeated this below in a similar section but it is relevant here too:

PC world in the UK (a leading chain) has stated that it will not be replenishing stocks of Floppy discs when current stocks run out. It has also stated that only 2% of the PCs it sells still have floopy drives and that by the summer even these will go. This is a significant event in the history of the floppy drive. [3] AlanD 22:50, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Yeah yeah, and Dell and Compaq and who knows who else, as early as 2000 or even 1999 stated they "wouldn't be shipping floppies with new PCs" but floppies aren't dead yet, and they had to rethink their policy. Unless all BIOS updates and emergency boot/service utilities are designed to properly work from USB or CD on EVERY PC configuration of the last 10 years, then maybe floppies will be phased out. Oh yeah, and when they invent something removable and rewritable as cheap and disposable as the floppy. Sorry, but wasting a whole CD-R just to burn 1 MB of files (I had to do that, too, but I never endorsed it) is a waste of time and money, and packet writing for CD-R and CD-RW turned out to be just a clumsy, unreliable and incompatible waste of resources. EpiVictor 12:30, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Faster—probably—but cheaper? I don't know. Isn't it cheaper to produce a CD by now? –KEBo@ifi.uio 13:57, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
Let's see...floppies are about 3 Euro a box of 10, as of 2007 (OK, I have paid more than than in the past for special quality floppies, which proved very durable) but let's stick to that figure: it would be 30 cents per floppy. Bulk CD-R come to cost anything from 20 cents to 40 cents, while boxed and branded ones are typically 50 cents to an Euro. If you need to write a file under 1.4 MB, then obviously a CD-R is a waste of money, since it can only be written once. There is multisession and packet writing of course, but those mean an overhead of some MBs (1 or 2 for each packet writing and something like 30-50 MB for each session), so the maximum number of times you could "reuse" the same CD-R is anything between 10 and just short of a hundred, if using packet writing. Sadly, when using a CD-R to e.g. write a 1MB .doc file, who really keeps a box with already "packet written" or open "multisession" CD-Rs just for such an occasion? Most people just waste a new CD-R, close the session and voilà, you have just wasted 99% of the CD-Rs space forever, and it CANNOT be claimed back. A floppy, on the other hand, can be reused hundreds of times, and is much easier to write and read, as it doesn't need CD burning tools or special packet write/read software, and has adequate capacity and speed for small files. Plus, with the floppy I can be fairly sure it will be readable on Windows, Mac, Linux, damn, even SunOS or Amiga, if need be, while with CD-R (especially if using multisession or packet writing) I cannot be that sure. EpiVictor 12:29, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
Addendum: what I mean is that yeah, CD-R are by now cheaper to produce than floppies, but they were never optimized for typical floppy usage: small scale, repeated file additions and deletion. Most CD formats were designed for "streaming", continuous, large scale data reads and are typically created "all at once". Everything about them, from their spiral track to their file systems is optimized for that kind of usage, not the one you expect from a floppy, MO-drive or Flash drive. Burning a CD-R takes some minimum time, and stopgap measures such as packet writing proved incompatible and unreliable. So yeah, CD-Rs maybe cheaper but they are uneconomical when used as floppy substitutes. EpiVictor 12:37, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
look around you epi victor - there's a thing called the internet, to which access is ubiquitous. you're soaking in it. it works very well for transferring small files. floppy disks are obsolete, and have been increasingly so for about a decade. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:49, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Assuming you can access the internet. I still carry-around a "Netscape Dialup" disk for when I encounter a computer without any kind of net access. It's that golden floppy that opens-up my access to the outside world.
It's a shame nobody invented a hard-type disk that could squeeze 10 gigs inside the standard 3.5" floppy disk casing. That would be a great upgrade option, cheaper than complicated USB keydrives, and interfaceable to any computer with the 3.5" drive installed. - Theaveng (talk) 21:31, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

DMF and other oversize formats

Microsoft's DMF or Distribution Media format is mentioned briefly for its use on the floppy disk version of the original release of Windows 95, but not on the first, bootable disk. Many sets of Win 95 floppies were ruined by a boot sector virus on PCs being upgraded from Windows 3.1x that replaced the special DMF sector zero with a standard, virus infected, 1.44M version. Microsoft did not include a utility with Windows 95 to make backup copies. (I used FDformat and CopyQM to make a backup set to install from. I still have my original OEM Win95 set that has never been used to install from.)

Not mentioned is the "1.7M" format IBM used on some software, notably the floppy disk version of OS/2 Warp 3.0, which came on 20 or more disks. The Warp Connect version had over 30 disks for a complete installation of all features. IBM also included a program to make copies of the disks and the documentation insisted the user first make a backup copy of all the disks before installing OS/2. The utility could also be used to create blank 1.7M disks, which were completely useless due to OS/2 Warp 3.0 not being able to write to the format.

5.25 2006

How do I get my (newish) computer to recognize a 5.25 drive? Can I just run 'hardware' detect, or is it more complex than that? -Litefantastic 00:40, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

You are barking up the wrong tree. You must first change your BIOS settings. Then your Windows OS will automagically recognize it. 21:02, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
As the anon poster says if your connecting it to the motherboards floppy controller after making sure the drive selects are set up right (most multi floppy cables have a twist in them meaning the jumpers on both drives must be set to drive 0) you need to set the drive types in the bios. Plugwash 01:13, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
You need one of those 34-pin ribbon cables with three or five plugs on it - that has at least one card-edge connector for the 5¼ drive. The plug(s) on the end is the "A" drive, and the plug(s) in the middle is the "B" drive.
The beauty of the 5-plug cable is that either drive can be A or B as you wish.
Then, as stated above, you must run the BIOS update program (hit <DELETE> or <F1> or whatever just after you turn on the computer) and choose the type of drive that matches what you have plugged in.
That's it. There is nothing to do in Windows. I have just done this successfully to my P4 machine running Windows XP, and my classic 5¼ drive, carved out of a solid billet of metal, works like the day it was made. Better in fact.
Back again. There's one thing that can stop this working - if the jumpers have been changed on the back of the drives. But this unlikely and unusual these days.
Well, lessee. I have the drive, and the cable, and I think I'm going to try tech support next. Of course, the fact that I dropped the drive off a table a while ago may not have helped. -Litefantastic 01:23, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Follow-up: Your information was mostly correct, but the drive thinks its a 3 1/2, not a 5 1/4.


It is weird that this featured article uses the word "wallet" in the first sentence; I have never seen this word used to describe the carrier shell. (It is hard to find a good word, since the old floppies used a thin flexible enclosure, and new ones use a thick hard shell.) 21:02, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

wouldn't a disk's skeleton be the steel hub in the center? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:51, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Disk / Minidisk / Diskette

Back when I was at uni (in Australia) in the early 1980's, 8-inch floppys were known as "MiniDisks" (or "8-inch MiniDisks") which I presume was a trade name. And 5¼" floppys were then known as "diskettes".

The implication being that a full-size floppy in the minds of the manufacturers was bigger than 8 inches.

But this article indicates that the 8-inch floppy was the original - the bigger 12" ones came later.

Doe anyone else remember using 8-inch floppys on (say) the VAX or similar?

To make things more confusing, I'll let you know I have a box of old 5'1/4" disks labelled as "Mini Disks". "Diskette" on the other hand is a very common and generic name, and was never linked to only 1 kind of disk, from what I know...the "Mini" prefix could have come, however, from a comparison with larger, not necessarily removable drives, like primitive hard disks or even vinyl records. EpiVictor 13:57, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Typical hard disks of the 1970's were 14 inches. Microcomputers in the late 1970's to early 1980's, if they had disk drives at all, typically used 8-inch floppys. The first versions of CP/M, the UCSD p-System, etc. all came on 8-inch floppys. --Rick Sidwell 00:50, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

FWIW, I'm pretty sure the orignal FD introduced by IBM was called the "Diskette." It may have been trademarked. The term "Minifloppy" was used and trademarked by Shugart Associates when they invented the 5.25" form factor. My guess is the rest of the industry then adopted Minidisk to avoid IBM and Shugart. The various form factors competeing for the next generation were generically called micro-Floppies until the industry standardized on what we today know as the 3.5" FD. For some reason Seagate then introduced its 5.25" HDD as the micro-Winchester but that term never took off.
BTW, there were a considerable number of 8" HDD's used on Microcomputers of the late 1970's and early 1980's - nothing by today's standards but large by those days standards. For example, I believe the TRS80 -2 could be bought from Tandy with an installed Shugart SA1000, 10 MByte HDD. --Tom94022 00:19, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Regarding the origins of "diskette," when I was a boy in the early 80's, I was fascinated by the IBM System 34 at a local business, and the SA was very generous about letting me gawk at it and answering, or at least tolerating my endless questions. I remember she always corrected me if I refered to one of its 5 1/4" diskettes as a "disk."

The *disks* were the massive 14-inch belt-driven platters that filled most of the machine's cabinet. "Diskette" was the only proper term for the 5.25" floppy. "Floppy," I seem to recall, was considered an improper and unprofessional term in the "big computer" world. --David A. Flory 2:25 26 September 2006 (CST)


What is with the "hello" at the beginning of this topic? If you would like this to be removed please type "support" or if you oppose the idea of removing "hello" type "oppose". Be sure not to erase others entrys. Please include a breif reason for why you support or oppose the idea.


   Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your opinion with 20:56, 2 August 2006 (UTC) 


The "hello" you're talking about was a test edit added by an anonymous contributor 90 minutes before you reverted it. Nobody wants it there. Don't worry. Deco 00:18, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Why use formatted capacity

The "Background" section is hopelessly flawed. We're using formatted capacity, but formatted capacity depends on the drive being used, the encoding method being used and the filesystem being used. It depends little on the disks themselves. For example, a 1MB floppy could be: 720kB (PC) 880kB (Amiga FFS) 838kB (Amiga OFS) 800kB (Mac) 976kB (Amiga NFS) But, all along, the actual capacity of the disk is 1MB. Wayne Hardman 18:59, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

  • You raise an excellent point about inconsistancies caused by using formated capacity. I believe it is more correct to say the disk sets an upper limit on gross capacity ("unformatted capacity") and the associatied controller (part of the system not the drive) determines the formatted capacity. The unformatted capacity of floppy disks was usually stated in terms of full track capacity, no gaps, written at nominal rotational speed, nominal data frequency and a specified recording format. As such it was unrealizable mainly due to rotational speed variation. Some folks tried changing the recording format to a more efficient one but that usually led to a higher error rate - TAANSTAFL. If someone has the time, they should change the table to show unformatted capacity and then variations in formated capacities as you did above. Maybe I'll do it if have the chance--Tom94022 19:27, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
This "issue" is already hinted at in the "Ultimate capacity, speed" section, however unless we can find a reliable source saying "data density can't exceed tot bits/cm2" or something equivalent, and find what density was used for each "generation" of floppy disks, including increased densities in the same form factor. Even if sources are found, it will be very consusing speaking of "the 2 unformatted MB era" and the "1 MB unformatted MB era", when readers will probably look for familiar figures such as 1.44 MB etc. Plus, does anyone have an idea what the unformatted capacity of, say, a "360KB" 5 1/4" drive or 3" drive was supposed to be? 400 KB? 500 KB?EpiVictor 14:17, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
The "reliable source" is the specified unformatted capacity from the manufacturer's data sheets for the disk drives, since in that era the net capacity was a function of the controller - typically provided by a third party. If a system exceeded that density (whatever the bits/cm2) it would void the drive and media warranties. Depending upon the efficiency of the controller, the same drive/disk combination would have different formatted capacities - see Section 7.1 for a discussion of some of the variations in formatted capacity from a medium. To answer your question regarding the "360KB" 5¼ inch drive, I'd have to find the Shugart SA410 OEM manual - I suspect it would show an unformatted capacity of 512.512 kBytes (or 500.5 KiBytes) Tom94022 16:01, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Whatever happened to Randolph Scott the B drive

This is semantic, but it's been bugging me for about five years - too much to forget, but not enough to ever really bring it to the forefront of my mind. Why is it computers don't have B: drives. My first Windows-based computer - a 3.1 machine, built in 1992 - had four drives, which were neatly laid out in alphabetical order. But I've never seen another machine since that had a B: drive. What happened to them? -Litefantastic 02:55, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

In MSDOS machines, A: & B: were reserved for floppy disk drives and hard disk drives were allocated drive letters at boot beginning with C:. Did yr 3.1 machine had two FDD's? Most early Windows were DOS underneath so it continured. I suspect the more modern Windows (NT, NT based and beyond) for compatibility continued reserving the B: designation for the second FDD and designating HDD 0 (Drive 0, IDE port 0) as C: - for example, in my Win2K pro system the B: designation is not available for reassignment to my DVD even though years ago when I had 2 FDD's the second one was designated B:--Tom94022 16:37, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Just to clarify, the A:, B:, etc. designation is not a property of the floppy drive or the computer. It's the operating system which provides the semantics of drives access and how this is done. The [letter]: designation predates MS-DOS and Windows. See also Drive letter assignment. --Frodet 17:19, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Many recent PC motherboards have a BIOS that only supports a single floppy drive. Some of them do still have an 'advanced' option to present the single floppy as B: to the operating system, often labeled something like 'Swap floppy drive', sometimes also mentioning Windows in the option. In any case, Microsoft operating systems all reserve drive letter B: for a second floppy drive. I don't know if this will be continued in Windows Vista.
Technically Microsoft Operating Systems reserve both A: and B: drive letters. And the "Swap Floppy Drives" in the BIOS will flip the assignment of the drives. A: <> B: You can use this with two floppy drives in the system. And to simply assign them backwards. This is us full if you don't have a ribbon cable that will connect correctly to the drives you have based on plug type. Or maybe you need to Boot off the B: drive disk type.
My system for example has a combo A: and B: drive in it. It's both a 3.5" and 5.25" drives in one drive bay. Because of this I have a A: and B: drive on my XP system. I have seen computer with two 3.5" drive in them and again you will have A: and B: drives used. Also it's interesting to know that if you go to a command prompt and attempt to access drive B: (and you only have a drive A:) on any DOS based OS (DOS,Win 3.1,95,98,ME) it will redirect to A:. Also unknown to many people is that floppy drives have a jumper on them much like a Hard Disk that defines them as aether A: or B: drive. By default it's set to B: and a twist in the ribbon cable is used to flip it back to an A: drive. Thus a B: drive would be connected before the twist.
Dual floppies used to be quite common, with no-HD or small-HD setups, and not just to provide for both sizes of disc, which is why it managed to persist into it's current status as an outdated standard. EG You would leave the system disc in one drive, and your program disc in the other (or on my dual-floppy Atari ST, the write-protected program disc in A, and the data file storage disc in B, or one of each of the discs of a two-floppy game in each drive), or source in one and destination in the other when copying files or duplicating a disc. The idea, basically, was to dramatically increase data transfer speed and reduce disc swaps (with the accelerated hardware wear and potential for fatal user errors that come along with), without having to resort to the at-the-time MASSIVE cost (especially compared to the 'small' matter of a 79.99 floppy drive) of a hard drive or large memory upgrade in which to implement a RAM disc or disc cache of usable size. Typical file copying direct between two floppies in MS-DOS (or I suspect the Win2k/XP/Vista command line) still uses syntax of the type --- A:\copy example.txt B:\, whereupon the OS will buffer a certain amount of the file, prompt for a disc swap and "press any key", write out the buffered part, prompt to swap back, and so on ad infinitum until the whole file had been slowly chunked across, and similar for the Discopy command (which at least would buffer up to available memory or use a tempfile on any available hard disc, unlike file Copy)... the only cold comfort being that, even with a disc-filling file, and a machine with VERY limited RAM, there's a definite and not particularly mind-boggling upper limit on how many disc swaps are required.
It's nice to keep around just in case, yknow, you want to plug in two USB floppies at once (if you're feeling perverted), or you have a couple of USB key drives that also each have emulated floppy partitions for included security software, so they can add these (useless) drive letters without messing up any other assignments higher up in the more typical mass-storage area.
I do wonder what would happen if I took one of my surviving ISA-capable motherboards and an add-in high speed floppy controller board I have hanging around (remnant of a failed tape drive setup) and configured them to play nicely together, with two drives set up and installed each... the original PC spec supported up to 4 floppies after all... would they go A-B-C-D, with HDD-0 being E? Or would it be A-B-D-E, and the hard disc staying as C? Or plugged in the two USB floppy drives and added the two USB keys (or the other way around, to be more theoretically sound)....?
I do somewhat miss those still-familiar days, with the 3.5" being a universal, widely recognised and fairly reliable, (relatively) idiotproof and practically instant-access method of file storage and transfer. Pick it up, slot it in, load/save your file straight away, hit the eject button, all done. And you know exactly how much space you're getting with the briefest of glances ... either 712 or 1423kb ... and being able to set read-only mode was another universal constant, not limited to SD cards and the more exclusive pen drives! The only fly in the ointment being how easy it was for a purposely malevolent force to utterly destroy your data :( (Accidental damage, now that could usually be cured by ripping off the shutter, giving the whole magnetic surface a careful clean with a soft cloth, copying off what you could, and setting Scandisc to run overnight in customised maximum-paranoia/retries, full-auto recovery mode to get the rest, providing you didn't witness the random 1:80 terror of a TRACK 0 ERROR) (talk) 03:50, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

This just may kill the floppy

Staples office supply stores now have a plastic tub at the checkout with 64 megabyte USB flash drives priced $10 or less. Cheap enough to buy as party favors for your kid's birthday party. Makes me feel old to remember that some floppy disks cost more than that for one disk! (Or that a 64M usb flash drive used to be so expensive it was kept in the back room and you had to tackle a store employee to get one for you.)

Once again, the only thing standing between floppy disks and "death" is their role as a legacy device for last-ditch maintenance and administrative tasks such as emergency boots, Flash BIOS updates etc. 11:08, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Thing is floppies have come down too. To the point where you can treat them like BIC pens buying them by the boxfull and not really caring where they end up. Flash sticks haven't (and may never given the physical side to them) reach that price point yet. CD-Rs are down at similar prices to floppies but you have the extra pain of buring being a seperate task (packet writing never really took off and preformatted CDs for packet writing were never really availible) that always seems to have a minimum time greater than copying a small file to a floppy. Plugwash 14:39, 27 September 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, show me that shop. They seem to have been stuck at 4.99 for a box of 10 (at least in physical outlets, but online doesn't seem massively cheaper) for a long time now. CDR and USB stick are massively better value in terms of cash per megabyte. There's just one or two difficult situations for where a floppy is marginally better, so they're hanging on, at 0.49 per 1.39mb.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:39, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Don't be so quick to replace floppies with USB drives - USB drives are notoriously unstable and crash without warning or hope of recovery. Floppy disks last for a good while and are often recoverable after they start to die. Cached 06:43, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

PC world in the UK (a leading chain) has stated that it will not be replenishing stocks of Floppy discs when current stocks run out. It has also stated that only 2% of the PCs it sells still have floopy drives and that by the summer even these will go. This is a significant event in the history of the floppy drive. [4] AlanD 22:49, 30 January 2007 (UTC)


One point about floppies was their relative low price. Up to the mid-90s 5,25"-Floppies have been the cheapest storage medium on a $ per MB scale. I know many people which used 5,25"-drive on their Macs, Amigas and Ataris troughout the 80ths and 90ths just because those media costs only a third of a 3,5"-media. Crass Spektakel 15:35, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

I hope they used the 1.2 MB variety, though :-) Amstrad CPC users did use 5'25" floppies, for one because they could be formatted exactly like 3" ones and were even more cheaper (like 1/5th or even less) than 3" disks, but Amiga and Atari ST...could high density 5,25" be formatted exactly like Amiga or Atari ST disks? Or was it merely used in its standard 1.2 MB format for generic data storage? EpiVictor 17:31, 8 November 2006 (UTC)


While there was never a direct followup to the floppy one can say that between 1995 and 2005 the CDR/CDRW/DVDR/DVDRW mostly replaced it. Nowadays it seems like USB-storage-systems are going to replace all earlier media, no matter what exactly is connected to USB, be it a magnetic Harddisk, Flash-Memory or optical CD/DVD-drives. Crass Spektakel 15:35, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

There were (and are) some people who waste a whole CD-ROM just to burn 1-2 MB worth of files and don't even use multisession, but there really was no widespread rewriteable medium until 2002-2003, when USB and flash storage really became affordable and supported. As for USB based media...maybe Flash or some other solid state media, but not necessarily with an USB connection. Think about how faster an internal SATA connection is compared to USB 2.0 .... EpiVictor 17:18, 8 November 2006 (UTC)
Zip sort-of held the fort for a while ... typically I found that if I wasn't able to use a CDR drive for getting large files off a friend's or an institutional computer, then a Zip was available. And of course, the parallel ones were portable, so long as you could sneak in the drive, it's PSU wall-wart, and the standalone (no-install, about 50kb) driver on a floppy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:37, 25 March 2008 (UTC)


Who the hell filled this article with kibibytes. Who the hell put those scare quotes around traditional kilobytes and megabytes. Nobody talks about kibibytes. Nobody. 1024 bytes is a kilobyte, 1024 kilobytes is a megabyte. - (), 21:11, 11 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree, this whole flapdoodle about a kilobyte = 1000, and a kibibyte = 1024, is just annoying. Considering a kilobyte 1000 bytes even is just incorrect and plain stupid. Even though that is the SI prefix standard, but bases of 10 (which SI is based from) don't work well with binary systems, with its bases from 8. I'm just confused as to why there ever was a (x)bibyte standard (aka the IEC Binary prefix) devised in the first place. I realize that I've answered my own question there, but I thought it would just be understood and assumed that the SI prefixes applied in the world of binary/computing systems would equal 1024, instead of having to come up with a new term for it to reflect such. I never use the (x)bibyte terminology myself, but it seems like everyone else here on Wikipedia has a fetish towards it, IMHO. Besides, calling it all (x)bibyte sounds kind of alliteratively silly, too, like booblebyte. ;) You'd think the IEC would of come up with a better-sounding name. misternuvistor 03:24, 14 November 2006 (UTC)
A proper prefix system for binary would have to be two-based, not ten-based. I propose:
  • 2 bytes = doppelbyte
  • 4 bytes = quadrobyte
  • 8 bytes = eightobyte
  • 16 bytes = sweetobyte
  • 32 bytes = intelobyte
  • 64 bytes = nintendobyte
  • 128 bytes = archaeobyte
  • 256 bytes = toofiddysixobyte
  • 512 bytes = notnearlyenoughobyte
  • 1024 bytes = enoughobyte
Until this rational, reasonable system is adopted, we should probably stick with units that people understand. "Kilobyte" is fine for 1024; if we need to disambiguate, we can say "binary kilobyte", or contrast it with the "scammy floppy-disk makers' kilobyte" of 1000.
Hey, sounds like a plan to me. ;) misternuvistor 08:19, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

You know who screwed up kilobytes? Marketing types. And it started exactly with things like the 1.44MB floppy (sounds bigger than 1.4MB, right? can't leave the competition that opening -- start exponentially increasing capacity and it starts to look even better and better). They took a previously perfectly serviceable and completely predictable understanding (1024 for Base 2, 1000 for Base 10), and shot it all to hell for the sake of 24 bytes out of a 1000. Resorting to kibbles-and-bits or other awkward sounding names that are obviously never going to be generally adopted just adds more excrement to the heap. The solution is to STAND FIRM on the naming scheme that worked in the first place and is still commonly understood, instead of starting at square one, because it's a better battle. If an advertiser pulls something like '1.44MB' then even when this becomes the standard nomenclature, it should always be accompanied by a note that it is technically incorrect. This is just like the 14" monitor thing, by the way. Almost every 14" monitor ever sold was a 13" monitor where they started and finished measuring from a point inside the plastic that nobody would ever see. This practice is endemic to the industry in all forms. Where we are simply naming these products for the purpose of identification, we can use their self-inflated numbers, but whenever and wherever the actual size or capacities are being discussed and compared, these inaccurate claims should be quickly noted and then discarded in favour of the real numbers. Does anyone see a reason to object to this simple rule of thumb on how to treat with these discrepancies?-- 08:50, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

It's always funny how people mock the awkward sounding names. Marketing types care about the sound of names. Or linguists. I'm a technician, I care about unambiguity. Your "perfectly serviceable and completely predictable understanding (1024 for Base 2, 1000 for Base 10)" has flaws. First, bytes are not counted to a base of 2 but to a base of 10. I have never seen a 1'011'010'000 kByte Diskette marketed anywhere. Instead there where a lot of 720 kByte Diskettes out there. Sounds quite decimal to me. Next, it generates trouble on interfaces of Base 2/Base 10. In data transmission, 56kBit/s are 56'000 Bit/s ever since. Same to Ethernet 10MBit/s, 100 MBit/s, 1GBit/s. Because Hz is still counted decimal. Physicist think you are kidding when you're explaining that you can't transmitt a GByte in 1 seconds on a 8 GBit/s lane. In IT there is no consistent naming scheme you can STAND FIRM to. RAM and CDs use binary prefixes, DVD, HD-DVD, BluRay uses decimal. HDDs and data transmission too. EEproms use binary, memory cards and sticks don't. Prefixes have been used ambiguous ever since in IT. Marketing types were just one reason of many. So yes, I see reasons to object to your simple rule of thumb. Use kilo for intended (decimal) purpose only. Use kibi for intended (binary) purpose only. Life can be so easy. But this discussion does not belong here. -- 18:06, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
WELL SAID. I'm an engineer, and I'd be perfectly happy to switch to Base 10 for everything (it's easier to multiply/divide just by moving the decimal left or right). The problem is Computer Memory. You can measure everything else in kilobytes if you want, but when it comes to memory it HAS to measured in kibibytes, because that's how computers think. For example when I upgraded my old Amiga to 1 megabyte, I did not buy 1000 K of RAM. I bought 1024, because that's what the computer expects to see: Base 2.
So to summarize, I think we should probably use Base 10 for virtually everything, except RAM, and only because RAM is so closely-integrated with the CPU (base 2). Everything else including drives, interfaces, networks ought to be Base 10 for consistency & ease of conversion. - Theaveng 14:53, 16 October 2007 (UTC)


I have nominated Floppy disk for a featured article review because I am concerned it may not meet the requirements of a featured article. Detailed concerns may be found here. Please leave your comments and help us address and maintain this article's featured quality. Gzkn 07:25, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Comparison to punched card storage capacity

The Origins section includes this statement: The IBM standard soft-sectored disk format was designed to hold just as much data as one box of punch cards. The disk was divided into 77 tracks of 26 sectors, each holding 128 bytes. Note that 77×26 = 2002 sectors, whereas a box of punch cards held 2000 cards.

The implication is that a punched card = 128 bytes. I believe the most common IBM punched cards are 80 bytes. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jmsofia (talkcontribs) 21:59, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

No 12-inch floppies

I'm 99.99% certain that the claim about 12-inch floppies being used on mainframes is incorrect. Perhaps someone just has a poor memory. IBM invented the 8-inch floppy for use on mainframes, and it was used that way for a long time. They didn't get larger, but IBM did use "magazines" holding multiple 8-inch diskettes on some computers (e.g., System/38, and probably others). If no one provides a citation soon, I'm deleting the 12-inch claim. --Brouhaha 03:03, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

As noted further below on this page (duplicate questions!), I'm SURE I've seen a photo. GIS time? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:35, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Early 8-inch floppies

It might be worth mentioning is that the earliest 8-inch floppies had their index hole near the edge of the disk rather than the location near the spindle that became industry standard. I don't know the full history, but possibly IBM changed the index hole location to distinguish the early read-only disks (used for microcode load, and only written at the factory) from the later read-write disks. There were at least some non-IBM products that used the index-near-edge floppies, as I have in my posession a box of blank floppies of that type made by another vendor. --Brouhaha 03:03, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Who is 'we'

This explains the different numbering labels, while here we generically call the Mitsumi Quick Disk a 3-inch format.

What? 18:03, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

IBM Thinkpad and 2 MB floppies

Any information on how to retrieve data from that IBM marketing failure of mid 1990's would be appreciated. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:37, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

A 2.88 MB drive or even a 1.44 MB drive coupled with software like 22Disk, Anadisk or the Catweasel floppy disk controller may prove flexible enough. EpiVictor 17:11, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Computer Concepts

The link to a company called Computer Concepts in the Acorn Archimedes section is not the right Computer Concepts. The Computer Concepts in question is now called Xara ( 12:03, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

I've just changed it. KerrySwatridge 13:17, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Floppy as solar filter

In trivia section it is stated that it is dangerous to use a floppy as solar filter. On contrary, in its reference [45] floppy is rated as "marginally safe", so calling it "urban myth", and warnings of retina burn and blindness seems to be exaggerated to me. --Pannonius 14:48, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Floppy Disks to stay?

Does anyone know wheater or not 3&1/2" Floppy Disks are going obsolete or not, because they are really useful. The article says they aren't yet, but that can change. --Hatkirby 11:54, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

They are really going to be obsolete when there will be no more utilities -or any program whatsoever- intended to run off a floppy disk, either by construction or as a last resort. That's not yet the case as of 2007, as many update and maintenance utilities prove. Floppies can't just die, if the only way a manufacturer has to provide BIOS/firmware updates is via a floppy disk program to be ran in pure DOS :-) Yeah, there are bootable CDs but there's always that slight chance that a certain machine's BIOS doesn't support boot CDs or that said boot CDs are broken, or even yet that there's no working CD-recorder anywhere nearby in order to get that essential utility on disk asap...that's where the floppy kicks in, as a nearly 100% guaranteed, supported device. When the last machine capable of BOOTING from a floppy dies, then the floppy as we know it will die (and presumably something else will take its place). EpiVictor 22:30, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

There are several reasons for calling the floppy disk obselete:

1) Floppies are currently used by computer owners to update firmware or BIOS, instead of their original purpose of storing and exchanging information between users. Also, many computer components and drives can update their firmware without the need for a floppy disk.

2) The incredible proliferation and increased affordability of USB flash drives, portable hard drives, and burnable optical media in the past five to ten years has completely ousted the floppy as a valid form of file storage and exchange.

3) Current versions of programs such as Symantec's Norton Antivirus can no longer boot from floppies, and if either the CD/DVD drive or the main hard drive in a computer dies, the vast majority of users have the computer repaired, rather than try to boot the OS from a floppy disk.

4) Computers have been able to boot from CD's since at least the debut of XP and OSX in 2000-2001, six to seven years ago. Also, users concerned about the information on an older computer's hard drive quite often have the information transfered when they buy a new system, rather than try to use a floppy to access the older computer's OS and stored information.

5) Nearly all small files exchanged between users are sent as attachments over email, and the larger ones are swapped with either a removable USB connected device, or burnable optical media.

6) Many (if not all) computer manufacturers have stopped installing floppy drives on their retail machines.

Some would argue that a small minority of computer users still keep their non-media files on floppy disks. As a former call center tech, I will say that some users do still use floppies. Some people also purchase vinyl record players and analog stereo components for superior sound quality in their home theater. But again, they are the minority in the world of audio. Most buy music on CD's, purchase songs online, or download using P2P software. Likewise, floppy users are in the incredible minority of today's computer society. As the size of saved files continue to increase, and the technology used to store and transfer those files continues towards larger volumes, the ability for floppy disks to remain even remotely viable will very soon come to a quiet end.
Mintchocolatebear 06:11, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Let's see those points one by one:
1) I don't see what supports the "obsolescence" thesis in that statement. As you said, they are used to perform updates etc. and sometimes they are even essential e.g. I cannot complete the installation of Windows XP on a 2005 motherboard with SATA unless I use a floppy disk for extra drivers, and the installation environment cannot use a CD-ROM or anything else for that, so if floppy disks are suddenly to disappear, the installation is not completable, period. Of course, that's likely a flaw in the design of the software itself (relying on legacy technology ALONE).
2) That has been said a lot of times: USB Flash drives are cheap, capient, fast and all but they CANNOT be used as floppy or even as bootable CD-ROM substitutes in many roles, mostly having to do with booting and installation of OSes. True, they are predominant for large file transfers, but that's not a sufficient reason to abolish the floppy just yet.
3) That is mostly a "de facto" situation than an acceptable standard. There are still programs and utlilites created to boot from floppies exactly to recover from disastrous situations. And what are the people doing the repairs or more experienced users supposed to do? Sure, none expects a multi-megabyte program suite to boot from floppies, but it's reasonable to expect basic disk managing utilities to be able to. If they are not...well, tough luck, but I don't see how they can be really useful.
4) Yeah, they boot from CD and then ask you for a floppy to supply missing drivers :-) (at least early Windows XP did, and that was way after the floppy was declared "obsolete" and some manufacturers were so hasty ro remove it).
5) Sending files over email or burning a fresh CD-R to exchance less than 1 MB of data is purely a matter of personal taste. It may be widespread, but it's usually not faster than carrying a floppy across an office or room.
6) If there's a 100% guarantee that even emergency boots, bios upgrades and OS installations can be completed without the need for a floppy disk drive, then so be it. Since it's not yet the case as of 2007, it's just a risky marketing move.
Even a recently bought motherboard (an MSI Neo3) came with a floppy disk for its SATA drivers, and several devices I recently bought came with their drivers on floppy disks, instead of an 8 cm CD-ROM (so there's obviously a lower cost/greater convenience in some cases). Get over it people, unless there's universal hardware and software support for floppy-free computers, floppies won't just yet die. EpiVictor 12:27, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I believe that we are speaking of two different ideas:

I am referring to the world obsolete as "no longer used on a large scale, or by a significant number of users."
However, you are referring to the word obsolete as "no longer serves any reliable or necessary function within the current system."

While floppy disks do serve a reliable and necessary function within the OS, BIOS, and firmware, they are no longer a standard form of media used to complete the function for which they were originally designed (information storage). Floppies can be vital to updating and retrieving software on a computer, but they have been almost completely replaced by optical media and USB drives as the standard form of information exchange among the significant majority of computer users.

I guess the way we define the word obsolete determines whether the floppy disk is or isn't obsolete. Mintchocolatebear 20:40, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, I believe that is closer to the actual problem: the definition of obsolescence. In that sense, certain kind of once-used computer media (including audio cassettes and lesser floppy formats) are, practically, unused and unusable for any practical purpose, including service/updates/etc. But the standard 1.44 "MB" floppy is still actively supported and targeted especially by service tools, so it cannot be defined obsolete in the same sense as e.g. 5.25" disks or cassette tapes.
Regarding the use of the floppy as a means to carry large amount of data, that use is pretty much over, as none will actually bother to compress and split archives into multiple volumes to fit them on a multiple set of floppy disks, except when in really dire need or in a restricted environment (e.g. my old university computer lab using SunOS provided only floppy drives on each computer to take away one's data, and anything bigger had to be either rerouted to the only ZIP drive in the lab or schedule a CD burning session with the administrator....that was still the case in 2003, and UNIX file splitting and mtools became my everyday bread, but perhaps that was an extreme case (and a very poorly equipped lab (D.E.I., University of Padova if anyone is interested).
Of course I don't expect anyone to use boxes of floppies to transfer large amounts of data, but for repeated small file transfers (they do happen a lot in a computer lab/office environment without network file sharing) I personally prefer ejecting a floppy than plugging/unplugging an USB key continuously or wasting a CD-R just to write 500 KB of data, in which case it becomes a matter of personal taste, or even efficiency if you prefer.
In retrospect, all those attempts at forcibly discontinuing even legacy support already in 1998 seems very out of place, and I don't think the industry is yet mature for such a move. As I said before, only when the last machine that somewhere, somehow relies on a floppy disk dies, then the floppy will be rendered really "obsolete". EpiVictor 23:17, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Legacy, not obsolete

I took the bold step to remove floppy disks from "obsolete storage media" and add them to the "legacy hardware" category, which IMHO better suits the actual situation. Floppy disks, at least some of their formats, are not yet "obsolete" and are surely not "obsolete" like e.g. C64 data cassette tapes, but are more like a "legacy device", which needs to be supported because there's no real substitute in certain cases: (try installing Windows XP without a specific SATA driver on certain configurations). EpiVictor 11:26, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

I like your distinction between "legacy" and "obsolete," and agree that "legacy" is the best way to classify the 1.44MB floppy at this point in time.David A. Flory 14:03, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Which one signifies stuff that's hopelessly out of date and almost never ever used, and which one stuff that's definitely a bit past it, but still ostensibly in current use in some everyday environments and on sale in some major stores? It should probably live in whatever place audio compact cassette resides, as it has about the same status (ie people still have car tape players and libraries still hold language courses on tape, shops sell blanks and a small contingent of hi-fis that have decks, just as some new computers STILL have 3.5" drives ... but no music gets sold on tape and not many people have a cassette walkman --- even though it's not exactly a format of great currency any more, it's still hanging on) (talk) 05:34, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Wow, this article is stinky

We need to do some SERIOUS pruning here. The various failed 5.25 replacements need to be taken down to point form, and the large inclusions here either removed or moved into their own articles. There are also several other mentions of one-off formats (like the IBM 4") that need to be moved out of there as well. This is not something that should be in the mainline article! Maury 20:25, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes; Wikipedia itself thinks the article is too long as a single item. See Floppy disk format for a first stab at separating out some of the information. It's still overlapping a bit, and not linked from here; it probably should subsume the formatting-related information in this article. Todd Vierling 19:41, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Suggestion: Add information about the interface the FDD uses

The article does not mention anything about the ribbon cable (with curious inverted sections) that the FDD uses, or the interface or bus that runs on it. What bandwidth does it support? Apart from that, the article is very comprehensive (if a bit long - see above)--ChrisJMoor 19:22, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

Use in digital camera

This page mentions the 2-inch floppy disks being used in a camera, but it doesn't mention that the 3½-inch disk was used in digital still cameras in the 90s. Sort of like a memory card, except it was a massive floppy disk and slotted straight into the camera to hold 1.4Mb of photos. Heck, it would even be impressive if someone could take a photo of one of these cameras with a floppy half inserted JayKeaton 17:21, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, Sony's Mavica (the later line of Mavica cameras released in the late 90's onward, not the original 1981 Mavica that recorded analog still video frames on the aforementioned 2-inch disks) cameras are the ones you are talking about. They used a standard 3.5" floppy to save images onto, and were readable by a PC, which made transferring images from one of these cameras to a floppy drive-equipped PC quite simple. I have one of these cameras (a Sony MVC-FD91), and I could make an image of it with a floppy partially inserted into it, like you mentioned... misternuvistor 04:08, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
That would be truly awesome. This sort of technology really shows what the floppy disks were capable of and certainly it is a great example of how integrated these disks were in society, rather than just for transferring and storing documents and small files. Plus the picture will look great in this article JayKeaton 16:36, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
A few months ago I left a job in a school where they still used one of these for any uncritical pictures they had to take (e.g. stuff that would be printed small in a project, introducing kids to digicams, etc - it wasn't super high quality). Reasoning was along several lines such as, a) its already paid for!, b) each kid can very cheaply get their own set of hard-to-lose easy-to-label memory cards (seriously, f*** microSD, why do I want a memory card I CAN SNORT?), c) it's basically unstealable by this point ... in fact it was left somewhere as bait to try and catch an employee suspected of stealing and they - nor anyone else passing through - never bothered to touch it (as regards taking pics with the disc "half out"? No, it's fully inserted in the style of a minidisc or mini-VHS tape.... this bugger is thin but it has a larger cross-section than a medium-format SLR!). Just as I was working out my notice they got a new hard-disc based video camera which also took digital photos (oddly, of about the same quality). It'd be interesting to see which one gets broken / breaks down / is stolen / thrown away first... Somehow I think the Mavica will soldier on regardless when the HDD one is long gone! (talk) 05:28, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
Actually the Sony TRV-900 Digital Video camera that I purchased in 1999 also came with an attachable 3.5" floppy disk drive (via a PCM-CIA card), that I could use to store still images. It was a rather awkward setup, and since I never used it and it also worked perfectly well in a laptop's expansion slot, I ended up giving it away.-- 11:01, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Dr. Nakamatsu

There is simply no evidence that Dr Nat's 1952 invention, if in fact it exists, had anything to do with the floppy disk drive invention. No Dr. Nats patent are cited on the two IBM patents relating to the invention. Even if the patent existed and was relevant it would have been in public domain by the time of the IBM invention's publication and therefore no more significant than any other prior public art e.g., the German magnetic wire recording. A search on Dr Nat's name is the US patent data base does not support his claim that he has more patents the Edison. Absent a independent verification of his claims he should at most be a foot note in this article. He certainly has nothing to do with 8" FDD's. Absent an identification of this alledged patent I intend to again move this Dr Nats reference to a footnote. We should not support Dr Nak's self-aggrandizement, talk about POVTom94022 01:42, 19 April 2007 (UTC).

The Japanese page has a clearer explanation of Dr Nat's patent. His patent is of a music scroll which is playable while in its jacket. IBM proactively made non-exclusive contract with him. It's a wise move of IBM so they could avoid potential trouble, and manufacture the product immediately. As for the number of patents that he officially has is approx 600 in Japan. He filed 2000+ patents (that's about his claim 'more than Edison...') but large number of them were rejected even before official evaluation *laugh*. -Kenji

"a music scroll which is playable while in its jacket" doesn't seem to have much to do with a floppy disk drive. Can u provide a url to the patent?Tom94022 17:58, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
unfortunately the Japanese patent db doesn't have it online. It's too old. Anyway I agree that his invention is really nothing to do with FDD. -Kenji


I think that the Floppy Disk Drive should have its own part, so as to remove confusion. Ah2190 12:59, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Japan floppies

I understand that a 1.2mb (not 1.44) 3.5" disk format is popular in Japan? What is the origin of this system? Drutt 01:58, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

It's probably just setting the BIOS to treat the disk drive as a 5.25" 1.2MB one, but there's no point in doing so, and no proof it ever was "popular". EpiVictor 09:29, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
Seems to be a proprietary NEC format. I'm guessing it's some sort of anti-piracy measure? Drutt 16:31, 28 April 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it was a remnant from the X68000 system which used both 5.25" and 3.5" 1.2 mb floppies, but it appears very unlikely. Can you find any references for them? EpiVictor 11:08, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
This confusing page is all I could find. Seems to be a consequence of different drive RPM speeds:
I would explain the fact of the figures. On the same head of the same drive, they have changed the RPM (Revolution Per Minutes) to 360 RPM by IBM in USA from 300 RPM that was used in the world as well as by NEC in Japan.
This fact reflects now on 3.5inch 2HD Disc ( High Density Disc ). So we have a reason of using NEC 2HD=1.2MB and IBM 2HQ=1.44MB by two times. But the companies in Japan have realized the method controlled for two types of RPM because of their hating to become an orphan in the world. They say a three mode drive in Japan. But a three-mode drive means NEC 2HD=1.2MB, IBM 2HQ=1.44MB and NEC and IBM 2DD=720KB. I am sorry it does not be included in NEC 2DD=640KB.
Drutt 05:17, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Pretty confusing indeed, and the link somehow "broke" as soon as I followed it, but from what I grasped it's the usual "Quad" vs "High" density argument, which applies mostly to 5.25" floppies. I see no reason why in Japan they should use disk drives with different motor speeds, since they aren't tied to the mains frequency like e.g. TVs, and the switch from e.g. 320 kB to 360 kB took place worldwide along with the systems that used it. 3.5" HD flopies can be formatted to 1.2MB "Quad density" but there's no strong evidence that this was the preferred format in any region of the world. EpiVictor 20:43, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
The history is that NTT (ex-public company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephon) deployed "IBM 8" 2D diskette" standard(1.2MB) for their 5.25" disk. It became wide spreaded in Japan in 1980's. When 3.5" disk was introduced to the market the 3.5" disk drive inherited the 8" spec as well. Since they're following the same spec, software(MS-DOS) needed no modifications, sector-to-sector copy worked just fine. Until Windows3.1 was released in Japan there was virtually no IBM-PC so the world-wide compatiblity wasn't important. Reason? IBM-PC doesn't have a chinese(kanji) character font rom, nor 2byte character generator hardware *laugh*. Well, it was in the age of 8086, 80286. The processor is not powerful enough to render TrueType font for Chinese characters, and RAM was too small for font cache. Anyway , a large number of cheap IBM-PC compatible machines came to Japan with Windows3.1(J), and they've driven the NEC PC (the native) out. 1.2MB format just disappeared since then. -Kenji 10th May 2007 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:06, 10 May 2007 (UTC).

Lowercase k always means 1000

Regardless of what happens with the SI prefixes vs "traditional" prefixes debate, lowercased "kB" always means 1000 bytes. If you mean 1024 bytes, use either the traditional capital KB or official standard KiB.

To reiterate, if a disk has 360 × 1024 bytes, write it as "360 KB" or "360 KiB", but not "360 kB". This is wrong, and everyone in the debate will support me on this.

If you actually mean kB = 1000 bytes, on the other hand... good luck, I guess. :-) — Omegatron 01:07, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

If you do a Google search on kB memory you will get numerous serious hits such as [5] [6] [7], including stores selling such, where k is being used as 1,024. I agree it shouldn't be so but I am afraid it is :-( Tom94022 04:23, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Indeed it shouldn't be so. And since WP is an encyclopedia, we should strive to clarify such things, i.e. use the correct form and inform about the other (incorrect) ones. IIRC, some of the most ardent "sinners" against the correct usage of KB and MB have been the hard/floppy disk manufacturers, which commonly have been using kB and MB with the 1000-factor, to "prop up" their products' capacities. Often, a disk manufacturer's "MB" equals 1000x1000 bytes, a 5% difference from the correct number. --Wernher 18:39, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
The evidence suggests that M = 106 was and is the correct way to measure secondary storage and that the use of M = 220 is a consequence of lazy and/or incompetent system utility programmers, most likely starting with the Macintosh OS. Same point with regard to k and its incorrect variant K (unfortunately, many persons use k and K interchangeably to represent 103). Disk manufacturer's have consistently used decimal digits and SI prefixes since long before the corrupt binary usage of SI prefixes began. This conversation belongs on the Binary Prefix talk page and not in this talk page. Tom94022 22:55, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I was going to point out what Tom did. Oddly enough, this usage of the lower-case 'k' to denote 210 seems to be a confused attempt at more accurate representation of the unit prefix (in my anecdotal experience, someone will realize that there is no SI prefix 'K' and will adjust to using 'kB' accordingly). -- mattb 23:05, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
I don't have any counter evidence, but K and M have always referred to 2^10 and 2^20 in every computing context, save storage manufacturers, that I've ever encountered. If I met a sysadmin who used an M suffix and meant 10^6, I'd question its qualifications. --Yath 23:09, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Look above on this very page and on the binary prefixes page and you'll find plenty of evidence to the contrary. While K and M certainly commonly mean 210 and 220, there are many notable exceptions, both historical and contemporary. This issue is frequently muddied by recentism, but there is good reason to believe that early usage of SI prefixes in byte capacity contexts did indeed intend the SI definitions of said prefixes (specifically 'k'). -- mattb 23:14, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
My Commodore 64 (and Atari 400 and Apple II and most late 70s/early 80s PCs) certainly did not interpret "kilo" as 1000. 64 kilobytes of RAM meant 64*1024 = 65525 bytes. And 170 kilobytes of 5 1/4" disc meant 170*1024 = 174080 bytes. It was ALL measured in Base 2. Never base 10. - Theaveng 23:20, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Anyone who cares about this issue is welcome to look up old documents and put their findings in Talk:Binary_prefix#Timeline_of_terminology (which should probably be moved to its own subpage). We're trying to find earliest usages of different conventions, so we can put together a rough history of terminology.

All the evidence I've seen completely debunks the "hard drive size inflation" theory. Any time I've found a hard drive specified with an abbreviation, from the 50s to today, the abbreviation has had a decimal meaning (and they didn't use any abbreviations before that). It seems the hard drive engineers were simply being engineers, and it has nothing to do with marketing. The binary sense of the abbreviations originated later, and was directly related to blocks of memory, as I understand it.

Floppy drives, of course, are another matter... :-) — Omegatron 01:23, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Actually I think you will find the same consistency with floppy disk drive manufacturers (all of the early ones were also HDD manufacturers). Keep in mind that FDD's have "dumb" interfaces so that the user capacity of a FD is a function of the controller. Until controllers became semiconductors, e.g., Intel 8271 circa 1977, there were a variety of different end user formats offered, e.g. Apple and the IWM. The drive manufacturers tended to specify the unformatted capacity in decimal bits and megabits or decimal bytes and megabytes. For 8" drives it was common to also state a "typical" formatted capacity, referencing the several IBM standards (SSSD, DSSD and DSDD). Each controller and/or system manufacturer then stated its formated capacities in its own peculiar way - the majors seem to be pretty clean at least until the 3.5" FDD era. Again no evidence of "floppy drive size inflation" by the drive manufacturers. Whether confusion, if any, was inflation, incompetence, laziness or combinations thereof on the part of system and/or controller manufacturers remains to be established. And who gave us the 1.44 MB FDD is a real mystery (BTW to a drive manufacturer it is 2.0*106 Bytes unformatted). Tom94022 06:03, 22 May 2007 (UTC)
My Commodore 64 (and Atari 400 and Apple II and most late 70s/early 80s PCs) certainly did not interpret "kilo" as 1000. 64 kilobytes of RAM meant 64*1024 = 65525 bytes. And 170 kilobytes of 5 1/4" disc meant 170*1024 = 174080 bytes. It was ALL measured in Base 2. Never base 10.

Which makes sense to me. Anything that is connected to a computer, whether it's memory or a disc or a USB flash or whatever, should be measured using Base 2 binary, because that's how the computer "thinks" and measures things. Computers never used Base 10 and neither should the things attached to it. - Theaveng 23:20, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Then start measuring using Base 2 binary if you want to. Me, I think, 720 KByte is a bit more handy than 1'011'010'000 kByte. There is no problem using Base 2 for memory. It is just no good idea using allready occupied terms for that. By the way, my modem and network interface cards are connected to my computer, transmiting data dependend to a frequency measured in decimal Hz. For that reason, 100BaseT means 100 000 000 Bit/s when it says 100 MBit/s.-- 18:44, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Good argument. I'm going to have to change my mind, and I agree that Base 10 makes more sense. It's easier to convert from one unit to another if you just move the decimal left or right. - Theaveng 14:58, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

2.88 MB Intro Date?

On the release date for 2.88 MB drive, there seems to be a contradiction between this article and the IBM PC article. It is 1988 versus 1991. 03:23, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

I suspect the IBM PC article is incorrect since it says it was an "instant failure" which is blatantly wrong (the format lasted several years before IBM finally gave-up on the idea). That sentence from the IBM PC article is likely just some person's hazy memory w/o any kind of research done. - Theaveng 21:59, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Any estimates on total number of disks produced, annual production?

Does anyone have any data on the total number of disks ever manufactured? Or data on annual production rates over the years? This was the primary mode for portable transportation of zeroes and ones for many years! I imagine there are BILLIONS of these things in landfills around the world. If anyone has any links to any estimates, I'd be very grateful. Thanks, --Beagley 18:50, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, I personally own 1000 (accumulated 10 or 100 at a time, over the last 20 years), and if that's the average for every computer user, and there are 1 billion users in the USA, Europe, and Asia, then figure 1 trillion discs. - Theaveng 21:59, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

TRIVIA - Writing to a DD disk is a bad idea?

"It is important to note that due to read/write voltage differences in the heads of DD vs. HD disks, writing to an HD floppy with a DD drive (or an HD drive in DD mode) is widely considered to be a highly unreliable method of storing data." That doesn't make any sense. It's comparable to saying, "You can't use a S-VHS tape in a VHS unit" or "You can't use a CD in a DVD unit." In my experience, there's no harm in using higher-quality media at a lower-quality setting.

I think this "factoid" needs a citation. And if no citation is available it should be deleted. - Theaveng 21:59, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

This warning has been around since uhm...almost always, and may have been true when comparing older DD floppies with the first HD ones to hit the market. The real question is when "true" DD floppies were replaced by "DD disks with HD coating": in fact, with the phasing out of DD drives, most floppy manufacturers started using the same (denser) HD magnetic coating for both DD and HD floppies to cut on manufacturing costs. That was also one of the reasons why that old "punch a hole into a DD floppy to magically turn it into a HD floppy" story worked seamlessly. I don't know if that had the side effect that the "newest" DD floppies were less reliable than "older" ones in DD drives, but it surely improved HD/DD "compatibility", since the medium was the same. I guess it would only make a difference if you tried to format a heavily used "DD" disk (with HD coating) in a DD-only drive: an unformatted one could have worked, an overwritten one may have had trouble demagnetizing in the weaker DD drive. I will try to find some sourcing for those points. EpiVictor 14:16, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. People also believe Betamax provides a "better picture" than VHS..... but when pressured, they can not find any engineering citations to support the claim (because both standards share virtually identical specs of 3.1 megahertz bandwidth & 250 lines resolution). They can find lots of lies... er, marketing brochures from Sony; but not engineering tests that have true validity (and unbiased) There's a difference between what people believe, and what is reality.
I'd just like to see a Reliable engineering citation that states, "You can not format HD discs as DD discs, because it risks data loss, because ____ and ____ and _____." (If we assume that to be true, then I probably shouldn't be using Super VHS blanks in my old VHS vcr either.) - Theaveng 18:24, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, in the case of VHS and SVHS there is indeed a different response of the magnetic coating, for which VHS and SVHS recorders and players are calibrated. The very least you would get a distorted recording if tried to swap tape types. With floppies, since recording uses only two levels, this effect can be masked or go unnoticed under certain circumstances, but it becomes dead-obvious in analog media (e.g. VHS, audio cassettes). EpiVictor 13:10, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
As far as I've been told, there's some condsiderable differences engineered into the upgrade in the magnetic coating that was needed for DSHD discs to reliably store double what DSDDs could ... magnetic reactivity and stuff (like I know that very well - NOT). Basically boils down to the grain size and other things like that being tuned more to the field strength and bit packing density of a high-density format, and though double-density will work, it's recorded in a sufficiently different enough way for it to not retain the data as reliably. I dunno, repurposed PC floppies seem to work OK in the old 16-bit keyboardputer so far, maybe it is all BS to help manufacturers more easily flog off their old stocks at higher prices. If you still want an analogue comparison, however, try putting a Chrome cassette tape into a bogstandard deck that expects to see nothing but the cheapest, shittiest Ferrics all its life, and seeing how awful the sound quality comes out just when you were expecting it to be far better ... (aka "that's the last time I get suckered into buying expensive TDK CDing IIs before I find a chrome-compatible deck down the 2nd-hand charity shop") (talk) 05:20, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

The speed rating needs clarification.

"3½-inch HD floppy drives typically have a transfer rate of 500 kilobaud." Okay. So 500 kilosymbols per second. How fast is that in bits? 500k*2 bits/symbol == 1000 kilobits per second? And how does it compare to other standards like CD or DVD? I have no clue, and I suspect neither do the people reading the article, so I suggest we use a more meaningful speed measure. - Theaveng 21:59, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps you'd like to see the definition of a "baud" and the subsequent "baud rate". There's no simple way to associate bauds to bits, although an incorrect, approximate method is to say that 1 baud equals 1 bit/sec, by equating kbaud with kbit/sec. This is only accurate if there are no redundant bits like headings/tails/error corrections/sync signals etc. So 500 kbaud means a top limit of 500 kbits/sec, or 62,5 KB/sec. For comparison, 1x CD-ROM is 150 KB/sec, 1x DVD-ROM is about 9 times as fast as 1x CD-ROM (1350 KB/sec), a mid-1990s PIO mode IDE HD would be at best 1-2 MB/sec, while modern IDE and SATA HDs exceed 10 MB/sec. Of course in reality the actual data rate will be much less than that, and very few floppy formats can provide a sustained data rate of more than 50 KB/sec without pauses. The term "baud" is used exactly to indicate that not all symbols transmitted are "useful data", but just the speed at which the controller can process the raw floppy data itself. EpiVictor 14:00, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I looked at the definition of Baud and see no reason to confuse the issue since the typical transfer rate of a 3.5' FDD is 500 kbits/sec measured as user bits and has been specified that way since nearly day one. The particular code is MFM which maps 1 data bit into 2 channel bits with a (1,3) RLL constraint so I suppose u could some how use the channel bit rate of 1 Mbit/sec to come up with a baud rate of 500 kbit/sec, but to what purpose other than to confuse the reader by introducing an term, baud, not used in the FDD industry. At least during the data portion of the sector the user data rate is typically 500 kbit/sec. So I propose changing the language to kbits/sec. Tom94022 17:03, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I disagree with EpiVictor's comment that baud and bits can not be easily equated. Look at a 300 baud modem. That simply means that the modem is sending 300 symbols per second, and each of those symbols can represent one bit, therefore 300 bits per second. ----- If you represents 4 bits per symbol, then the baud rate is still only 300 baud, but you've increased the bitrate to 300*4 = 1200 bits per second. ---- If you represent 64 bits per symbol, then the baud rate is still only 300 baud, but you increased the bitrate to 300*64 = 19,200 bits per second.
Anyway, you get the idea. "Baud" simply means "symbols per second". If each symbol can represent X bits, then its a simple calcuation: BAUD * X symbols/second = bitrate. So my question was, assuming the floppy is 500 kilobaud (kilosymbols per second), how many bits are represented by each symbol? 2 bits/symbol?
(Aside: This is one of they hazards of using people's names as units of measure. If you say symbols/second or cycles/second that unit of measure is self-explanatory. If you say Baud or Hertz, people not familiar with the term will be left scratching their heads. Hence the widespread confusion among many people of what "baud" really means.) - Theaveng 18:37, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I think the DSHD 3.5" FDD data rate is 500 kilobits/sec, see List Of FD Formats. These are user bits not channel bits. Also, I think the comparisons to CD and DVD are inapposite since I believe their data rates are also gross of ECC, header, gap etc. I'll do some more checking before i edit the article Tom94022 06:12, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
If floppy disk can go like 1000kilobits/sec, then it is like 120kb/s. If to read whole disk 1.44MB we need 80 seconds, then real life rate is around 18kb/s. So, did we really had 100kb/s of ECC and so on? 80% of FDD was filled with ECC? Can't belive it. Please review your measures (talk) 15:27, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

I think it's a load of crap. Some controllers may have a theoretical maximum throughput of 500k or 1-2mbit, but that's only to support particular tape backup and superfloppy drives that use specialised protocols over the floppy cable instead of standard IDE/ATAPI (e.g. my old floppy-connecting Iomega Ditto, which was fairly efficient for dumping approximately a DVD's worth of data onto overnight, vs the slightly quicker ATAPI internal Zip-100). I've never seen an actual floppy disc drive that's ANYWHERE near as fast as that. Atari claimed 30kb/s (240kbit) for their internal drive in the ST owner's manual, which seemed somewhat feasible with custom formats (some games I had seemed to load an entire 720-800kb disc in less than 30 seconds, pushing the practical limits of what you could wring out of 80 tracks x 9 or 10 sectors at 300rpm... theoretical max of 50kb/s there, 55 with a tricky 11-sector format), but not in general use. I've timed the whole-disc read speed for a PC-formatted DSHD (1423.5kb user data, assuming the FAT is pre-read) as more-or-less 90 seconds dead... or just a speck under 16kb/s (128kbit, or call it 125kbit... WAY off the stated rate). Even if the PC-based custom "fast formats" acheived their claims of a 3x acceleration (375kbit / 48kb/s, though a doubling to ~250kbit / 32kb/s seems more realistic as the existing MSDOS format is relatively latency-efficient), there's quite a bit of wiggle room left from the lower rate interface. Perhaps it's referencing two drives running at once on the same bus, with custom formats adding more than the customary 18 sectors per track AND giving them a high-speed skew arrangement?

Certainly a typical, humdrum, everyday disc doesn't get anywhere close. Who came up with that crazy figure, and did they realise that 1000kbit = 125kb/s = a whole 1423kb floppy in a drive-motor and head-servo burning 11.3 seconds? (in other words, a little over 7 track shifts per second, and the hub motor spinning fast enough to compensate for the very considerable access latency this would cause - the normal one only turns the disc FIVE times per second). Come on people, have some sense of realism before chucking out cloud cuckooland figures onto an otherwise fairly respectable page. (OK, I realise there may be some confusion over absolute RLL signal rates picked up by the read head, etc, but the current tone of the article seems to suggest that's how fast acutal bits and bytes are being sent from the disc, thru the drive circuitry, down the cable, through the floppy/superIO controller and up the DMA wire into memory for processing at a full 500kbit, which is BS).

(Also the CD comparison is hokey. Single speed CD is 150kb/s, which is 1228.8kbit ... ok, that's not much faster allegedly, but you go copy me 1.39mb of data from a floppy and the same from a single-speed CDROM and tell me how much of a time gulf there was between the two - about 80 seconds i'd say. Also CD controllers have to support up to about 1.5mbit, as this is CD's actual top data rate, once you consider the demands of Audio (1411.8kbit / 176.1kb/s) or Video CDs (1374kbit AV data plus a control stream) AND all the subchannel bits that go along with (used by audio playing hardware, CD Text, kareoke machines, etc)... there's just no comparison between the two, speedwise, and that's before you start getting into multi-speed CDROM, which appeared around 1994 and eventually hit approx an 18x absolute spin rate not far into the new century (multiplying up past 54x at the outside edge thanks to CAV effects). Why even bother to include DVD when it STARTS at 9x CDROM speed, and therefore approximately 90-100x floppy speed? Zip might have been a more pertinent example, as it's potential interface speeds ranged from only slightly faster than floppy (SPP nibble mode) upto double or triple CD speed (IDE-ATAPI/SCSI versions)) (talk) 05:06, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

1.44 kilo-Kibibytes - what a mess the marketers created

And I say "marketers" because no engineer would be stupid enough to combine Base 2 with Base 10. Anyway, I rewrote the paragraph so it will be easy-to-understand, even for people who are not technical. (I hope.)

".....11,474,560 bytes or 1.47 million bytes (1.47 Megabytes). In the Base 2 binary prefix numbering system used by computers, 1,474,560 bytes is exactly 1440 kibibytes (1.4 Mebibytes). ---------- However, neither of these numbers is generally used. The number most frequently printed on such floppies is "1.44 MB" which incorrectly combines Base 2 (1440 kibibytes) with Base 10 (1.44 kilo-kibibytes). Thus the label "1.44 MB" is not correct usage of the SI terminology and leads to confusion for users. ---------- A person expecting the "1.44 MB" number to be stated in either the binary or the decimal prefix would miscalculate the number of floppies needed. The term 1.44 MB implies that the floppy holds 1,440,000 bytes of data, which is false. Likewise the term 1.44 MiB implies the floppy holds 1.44*1024*1024 == 1,509,949 bytes, which is also false. (The only proper way to interpret the erroneous "1.44 MB" label is as 1.44 kilo-kibibytes which yields 1.44*1000*1024 == 1,474,560 bytes.)"

I know that's not perfect, but then neither was the frakkin' idiot who combined Base 2 (1024) and Base 10 (1000) numbers to create nonsense numbers like 1.44 MB (1.44 million bytes) which is erroneous. - Theaveng 22:48, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

IBM 12 inch FDDs

From personal experience I am fairly familiar with IBM's disk drive products, flexible and rigid, and cannot recall IBM ever having a 12" FDD. Nor do any of my colleagues, many ex-IBM, have any such recollection. Absent a citation, I have marked this section disputed. Tom94022 05:20, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

After further checking with ex-IBM personnel I confirmed there was no such IBM 12" FDD in production on IBM mainframes and deleted the section. It maybe the original poster got confused with the Iomega products which were done by a spinout of IBM. Tom94022 21:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Though I have no idea on the manufacturer or even the detailed setting, I swear blind I've seen a picture of some data-entry secretary sitting at a terminal, in the process of selecting one enormous, LP-sized square floppy from a stack of them to one side of the desk, and it was captioned as such. Possibly a bespoke system used for nuclear powerplant control if my vague and fragmented shards of memory serve. Definitely not a case of 8" ones suffering mistaken identity - from a brief stint working with crufty old medical imaging equipment, I've worked with and even spirited away a blank one of those as a souvenir... If I/the captioner were wrong, it would be, naturally enough, roughly the same as mistaking a 45rpm single for a long-playing vinyl album. (talk) 04:05, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

X-10 Fastcache Floppy / 3.5" 10X floppy drive / Accelerated floppy drive

I recall an ad for a 10x 3.5" floppy drive in ads. It used in part: 1.5MB DRAM cache ram, two seprate heads, and faster motors to read and write the floppy 10X faster than normal. The only reference I have is an old newsgroup article from 1996 listing Corporate Systems Center (CSC),, "X-10 Fastcache Floppy".

A separate article on this could be justified if someone has more info on this 'one off'. It was not a LS-120 or any other type of combo device. Nov 1996 Dr. Dobb's article about it. (At the end.)

Sounds like a combination of a RAM disk and a floppy. 1.5 MB of DRAM in 1996....means it was probably awfully expensive. Interestingly enough, the product must have been released at a certain point. The company CSC still exists, and even provides drivers [8] for the X10! There is also a certain Sr. Engineer Igor Lokhmotov that states on his resume [9] to have worked for CSC, designing an "Embedded X10 Fast Cache Floppy PC ISA Controller". The CV itself contains some data about the X10 itself. The X10 drivers themselves can be found in [10]. There are MS-DOS and NT drivers, but a warning says they won't work in XP/2000. EpiVictor 14:35, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

X10 Accelerated floppy drive Wiki article added. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Holidaypepsi (talkcontribs) 06:53, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

3.25 inch floppy?

I stumbled over a webpage talking about a 3.25" floppy disk, but can't find it anymore. Yes, three and a quarter. The disk is essentially a shrunken 5.25". The disk is laid in a CD-like drawer and slid into the drive as a unit. Frotz 02:21, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

You maybe thinking of the Tabor Model TC500 3.25-inch floppy disk drive. Announced in late 1982 with an unformatted capacity of 500KB on a single side. Dysan supported the media. It was a market failure. I did a reasonable google search for the page u can't find and was not successful; if u ever find it again, please put a link at least here. Tom94022 17:55, 12 November 2007 (UTC)
Here's a link to the page: [11]. The photo of a 3.25" disk I added to the article came from Chuck Guzis. Frotz (talk) 03:31, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

ANSI 8 Inch Standard Relevance

I'm marking the statement about the ANSI 8" standard as dubious, since to the best of my knowledge it happened in 1979 long after the market had standardized on the IBM SSSD, DSDD and DSDD formats. All ANSI did is after the fact document the de facto standard and as such contributed little to the growth of the market; by 1979 the 8" was a declining product family rapidly being replaced by 5.25" products. Tom94022 19:04, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree on the timing. ANSI was surprisingly slow to react to the ECMA standard, which was ratified in 1974 or 1975( I'm not sure of the exact date. The ECMA standard acted as the de-facto guide. Jim O'Reilly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:17, 25 February 2008 (UTC)