A reusable magnetic storage medium and drive introduced by IBM in 1971. It was officially called a "diskette," but nicknamed "floppy," because the first varieties were housed in bendable jackets. Until the early 1990s, the floppy was the primary method for distributing applications, for backup and for transferring data between machines, and most all computers had a floppy drive. By the mid-1990s, the floppy gave way to the CD-ROM for software distribution, while local networks and the Internet became popular for backup and data exchange.|
Like Magnetic Tape
The floppy's recording surface is a circular platter of magnetically coated plastic similar to magnetic tape, except that both sides are recordable. The drive grabs and spins the platter inside its jacket, while the read/write head contacts the surface through an opening in the jacket. At 300 RPM, floppies rotate considerably slower than a hard disk, and they also come to a complete stop when there is no read/write activity.
Format Before Writing
Every new floppy must be "formatted," which writes the sectors on the disk that hold the data (see format program). However, by looking at the external jacket, one cannot always discern the recording format. See magnetic disk and high-capacity floppy.
FLOPPY TYPES (most recent to oldest)
Jacket Highest Lowest Creator
3.5" rigid 1.44MB 400KB Sony
5.25" flexible 1.2MB 100KB Shugart
8" flexible 1.2MB 100KB IBM
Although ubiquitous in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the bendable 5.25" floppy was surpassed by the rigid 3.5" floppy in the late 1980s.
The magnetic disk rotates between two liners inside the plastic jacket.
Floppy-based computers such as this Kaypro portable were the rage in the early 1980s. The computer was booted with the operating system floppy in the first drive, and the second drive was used for the application floppy.
This 1999 headline foretold the floppy's future. Their value as a storage medium today is nil. (Article headline courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer.)