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Forget SuperDisks -- Try 32MB On A Floppy 217

Posted by timothy
from the floppies-are-dead-long-live-the-floppies dept.
alanjstr writes: "IDG News is reporting that Matsushita (aka Panasonic) has developed a floppy drive that will fit 32 MB onto a regular floppy disk. 'To increase the data capacity of a standard floppy, Matsushita's FD32MB system employs zone bit recording -- a system used to encode data onto hard disks and optical disc systems that more efficiently uses the space to record data.' The new drive also supports SuperDisks for 240 MB storage capacity. A Google Search for 'FD32MB' turned up lots of stuff in Japanese. More details and discussion are available here starting back last November." According to the article which starts that PC Market thread, "The new technology increases the number of sectors per track to between 36-53 sectors, compared with its current number of 18 sectors, and its memory capacity per track can be raised from 9.2KB-18.4KB to 27KB." Imagine what the cooler-than-heck Linux Router Project could do with these!
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Forget SuperDisks -- Try 32MB On A Floppy

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The next version of Windows should fit on 5000 of these

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Would it be possible to use minidiscs for storing data like a floppy? Each one holds 140 meg uncompressed and can be erased and rerecorded many times. They're also physically smaller and more robust that floppy disks. Can you get MD drives for PCs for this purpose? Just a thought.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Where can i meet some of those crazed slut indian women?
  • I recently bought an USB Zip Drive, as it seems to be still a good idea. USB Zip Drives are getting very cheap (arround $80). The best about the USB Zip is in fact the USB. Many people nowadays have USB on their computer, so i can take my external USB ZIP and some ZIP disks with me to transport some data in a easy way without having to burn (and afterwards toss) a CD. It also can make a good Backup Media for all that data that is greater than 1.44 MB but below 100 MB e.g. financial transaction data etc. he only thing i dislike on my ZIP is the still high price for ZIP disks.
  • Does anyone know what happened to the MiniDisc Data Recorders? As far as i remember some years ago they were really available, but unfortunately Sony was a little too early as it seems and they disappeared.

    I would bet that a relaunch of these devices would be a bestselling hardware. You know, MiniDisc could hold arround 120 MB of Data (afaik) and the Price of a MiniDisc is only $1.50. And it is very small too.

    Dumb all that floppy disks, the overprized ZIP disks, the not much better LS120 and similar stuff.

    MiniDisc could be a way to go. It seems MiniDisc Medias will be arround for a long time, and they are very cheap due to their usage for music.

    So Sony are you listening?
  • It seems that some others posted the same idea about minidisc at the same time like me.

    So Sony see: There can really be a demand for it.

    Who is going to tell Sony? Does anyone know the right persons inside Sony? I really want a MiniDisc Data Drive (USB preferred) and i would pay $100-$150 for it.
  • CDs have a big drawback. They don't fit in a pocket.

    The smaller size do. You can get 75 mm (~3") CD-Rs that store 156 MB instead of 650+. Sony uses them to store pictures with the CD writer built into the MVC-CD1000. Unfortunately, even with the small discs it's still a rather large camera. Also, you won't find any "100 CD-Rs for $10 after rebate" deals on the small CD-Rs.

  • Also, they scratch easily, and drives can be finicky about working with them. I can take a CD-R I burned in my Yamaha CD burner and my generic 32x IDE cdrom can't read it at all. Pop it into my ancient 4x Sony SCSI cdrom drive and it's fine. Pop it into my car CD player and just spins and spits it out. CD's are just a pain in the ass. Floppies worked. Period. You put it in, your computer recognized it as long as it was formatted and not shattered into a million pieces, and all was right with the world.
  • Ooh, sorry, if you store things in the Midwest you still have to watch out for tornadoes and the occassional Tsathoqqua.
  • That's too bad, because Iomega were replacing the drive and damaged media for free (in the UK at least).

    I have a Zip-100 at work and a Zip-250 at home (seemed like a good idea at the time), and until I got a 15Gb removable HD, it was great as a super-floppy storage method. It also seems to be one of the only 'super-floppy' formats that is about as popular on Macs as it is on PCs.
  • On all SCSI machines, the Floptical was a practical way of adding floppy support too - SGI Indy's have a slot in the side for a floptical drive, whose main purpose was really to be a 1.44M floppy disk (it was optional unfortunately, so I don't have one :( )
  • What do you mean, all 83 tracks? Plenty of floppy drives will refuse to step their heads beyond the standard 80 tracks (or rather, cylinders).
  • I can tell you right now what the router project could do with these: crash, pitifully.

    Sheesh, floppies are unreliable enough with whopping big magnetic blobs and 1.44 megs per disk. I doubt you'd get one bit in ten back from any more tightly crammed in scheme.
  • How can anybody be a karma whore anymore now that only down moderation (or an "unfair" meta-moderation)affects one's karma?
  • SneakerNet

    That's Bipedal Transfer Mode for all you network engineering types.

  • by Moonwick (6444)
    An alternative to superdisks? Finally! An alternative to that 120MB, decently fast yet archaic technology! This is going to blow that away!

    Seriously, slashdot... what were you smoking? Why do we need to imagine what LRP can do with a 32 MB floppy, when it can already do all that and more with an LS-120 drive?

    Once again, excellent work.
  • How is one small recycled paper box wasting more resources then the infinite amount of plastic manufactured on CD jewel cases, that break and then are discarded? Uh, floppies are *made* of plastic. Don't forget that the spinning media is just a part of the packaging. I don't buy jewel cases anymore for CDs, in case you were wondering. I buy CDRs in spindles of 100, and stuff burned CDs into those nifty sleeve books (like the ones Case Logic and others make). Not wasting nearly as much stuff :)
  • yeah but the same thing exists with modems.. They are always trying to push the limits of the analog standard... It would just be better if it wasn't a whole new drive :)

    I haven't used a floppy in the longest time. It is either CDROM or Zip. I just keep losing floppies hehe.
  • howabout 6gigs on a dvdR

  • I disagree completely.
    I have personally used somewhere around 90 PCs personally, and I have seen with my own eyes somewhere around 400 more in use. Out of this probably near to 500 PCs, I have seen one (ONE) zip drive that wasn't on the shelf of PC-World.

    That's not ubiquitous, that's not even common.

    Every single one of those PCs has had a floppy drive. Actually, I exagerate (and I can't spell that word). Probably 10 or so didn't have a floppy drive. Although 30 or so did have 5 1/4 inch floppy drives either instead of a 3.5 inch or in addition to.

    Note that I'm not including cash registers or other non-generic usages.

    ~Cederic
  • Nice, idea, but floppy technology is still the oldest, slowest, an least reliable part of computers today.

    Even if this works, would you not still be bound by the transpher rate of the floppy bus? Is that not the most pathetic thing in the world? semaphore can move bits faster than that...

  • Just today in the office I was trying to upgrade a RH6.1 ws to 7.0. The RPMs were on another ws beside it, so I tried to make a boot disk.

    The drive on the to-be-upgraded box was toast. So was another drive sitting on the shelf. So was, for matter of record another drive sitting in a w98 machine in the same room.

    So I took a burnt 7.0 CD and tried to use that. Unfortunatly it was scratched all to hell.

    At this point I realized that lilo was fucked, so I couldnt give up. I use a cheapbytes CD os rh6.2 to do the marginal upgrade, and repair lilo.

    CDROMs are the tool of last resort. Hell, even Netware 5.0 CDs are bootable.

  • CD-Rs in a Big Fucking Safe (tm) that's bonded to the concrete floor with huge bolts. That should be okay. Do it twice to give redundancy :>

    --
  • According to the article, this new drive is a USB drive. Transfer speed is significantly better than the old sluggish floppy bus.

    I would fully agree that bootable USB devices would be fantastic, though!
  • The floppy disk manufacture have spent years 'improving' their disks. This is, of course, to be read as "Squeezing every last cent out of the manufacturing costs." What we end up with is disks that (most of the time) format fine when first used, but just a few weeks down the track are unusable, and have to be thrown out.

    However, they've not done the same thing with the old 720k disks. These fortunately have the same oserted rating as the 1.44M disks. So, if you can find them, buy all you can, drill a hole on the opposite side of the write enable hole and viola! You have a 1.44M disk that is generally more reliable than the designed-for-the-purpose 1.44M disks :)
  • Hahaha, the heading of the paragraph following it is quite amusing too :)

    Here's a direct rip off the page:

    The 32MB they record the former 2HD (1. 44MB) making use of the disk

    Large increasing capacity technology " FD32MB " of floppy disk development

    &lt Main point effect &gt
    Matsushita å electronic industrial corporation (president: æ± oral happiness 彦, head office: Kagawa prefecture Takamatsu city), the 2HD (1. 44MB) the 32MB (at the time of the format) to the floppy disk large increasing capacity technology " FD32MB " which can be recorded was developed with floppy disk making use of next term 240MB super disk drive.

    &lt Effective fruit &gt
    Use use expands the floppy disk which is the cheap record media by using the next term 240MB super disk drive which loads this technology, (the or less FD, the 2HD) as a large capacity record media of the 32MB. And so on as a secondary record medium of semiconductor memory of the 32MB which is used with the one for digital camera * semiconductor audio player and the like, it can assure the reuse of the FD.

    &lt The inside permitting/inserting &gt
    This technology, (1) improvement of the track/truck density with overwrite, (2) the ZBR (the Zone Bit Recording), improvement of the track recording density with the PRML, (3) improvement of reliability of the data due to the error correction technology due to the C 1 ECC which is not the FDD, (4) prevention of error elimination with the former FDD, consists of four new development technologies.

    &lt Special length &gt
    Former FD (2HD and 1. 44MB) record capacity approximately 22 time improvement (32MB).

    &lt Until recently example &gt
    The largest merit of the FD, being cheap, easily is thing, but in those to which record capacity is small, needs big record capacity such as picture * animated picture of these days it was not practical. In addition, there is a tendency where as for the used FD, reuse does not advance with the appearance of the large capacity record media, in and the like the desk makes desertion.

    &lt Utilization &gt
    For OEM drive for PC built-in from November of 2000 sample shipment schedule.

    &lt Special permission &gt
    Domestic 3 cases (while applying)

    Gotta love machine translations :)
  • To heck with that. The multimedia card is the size of a postage stamp and 32mb is available for $60. My MP3 player takes two, and when larger sizes become available I can upgrade immediately. I've successfully used it floppy like for files from Mac OS & Win2k (none of my linux boxes have a USB port to try this from)
  • Anyone have any ideas on what this drive will (does) cost? For a floppy drive to succeed, it needs to be dirt cheap. When you throw together a 9000 MHz Celeron system, how much do you pay for a floppy drive for it (assuming you don't have any on the shelf?)...it's usually like $20 or $25.

    The Iomega Zip drive is nice because it offers quite a bit of space for a small price. But then it has the usefulness factor. You can't easily boot from a Zip drive in all machines, unless it's SCSI. They don't manufacture those anymore, and even if they did, you'd need a SCSI controller, which would up your price again since that's not a standard PeeCee component.

    In addition to the drive being cheap, the media will have to be affordable. Look at the Jaz drive. It's like $300 or $350 for the drive, and $120 for EACH cartridge. Come on. A hard drive with 5 times the capacity is cheaper than that.

    Anyone remember the "Floptical" drive? I had one of these until it finally keeled over. When they were new, they cost $400 and required a SCSI controller. Reads and writes and boots from regular 1.44MB floppies, as well as 21MB floptical disks. Nice drive, but way too expensive.

    ...Looking back over my post here, I realize I don't really have much of a point, just a question. :)

    -David
  • A superdisk costs ~$8. 3 floppies cost ~$1. See a difference?
  • They say on the site that these are fairly unreliable and that data corruption is somewhat commonplace. Don't know how bad, like tape backup, or worse? Oink,
  • At least that's a plus. ;)

    Oink,
  • Sandisk makes a floppy disk-sized cartridge that holds a SmartMedia card and allows you to access it using a standard floppy drive (Mac is read-only though). It does require drivers though, so no booting from it a-la LRP.
    While SmartMedia is certainly more expensive than floppies (still ~$2/mb), it's certainly a lot more durable and portable and (as a standard) will probably outlast this new floppy tech.
  • Back in the early 90's it was supposed to be the next big thing - 21Mb in a 3 1/2" form factor.

    Never caught on.

    If I remember the way it worked, LS-120 would appear to be a descendant of the Floptical (magnetic storage on one side and optical positioning on the other side of something resembling a 3.5" floppy disk). They had at least a limited amount of popularity among the Apple II crowd at the time (in part because the drives also read ordinary MFM floppies, so you could exchange data with x86 boxen through them). I don't recall offhand which companies were behind the Floptical, but it might be the same as for LS-120.

  • Floppies suck, never use them, ever, unless you want to collect the springs like I do. About 4 months ago I took all my floppies, about 500 of em, and checked them all and copied all I wanted to my drive and burnt it to a "floppy CD" (as I call it). Out of the 500 floppies, about 300 apps and other files, I ended up only needing to save about 15 items. So not only are they crappy and damage easy, you probably don't even have anything important on it. Like I didn't want to save my Doom shareware for DOS disks :)

    So, if you have floppies, burn the important stuff to CDs and throw out (or recycle?) them and never get a floppy again.

    -----
  • It'd be a shame to see millions of floppies in a dump... or congregated anywhere, for that matter :-)

    Floppies have one crucial advantage that hasn't been discussed yet -- hardware write protect. It's the only way to fly for appliance computing.

  • > Just like you can format 720k floppies to 1.44

    Actually, this only works if you fool the density detect mechanism of the drive by drilling an extra hole. And also only if the surface quality of the disk happens to be good enough for HD, which may, or may not work out depending on the quality of your brand of double density disks...: don't try this with 3M disks!

    > You can even format 1.44MB disks to 1.7 MB in a normal 1.44MB floppy drive

    Actually, this is still the same basic format. Bit density is exactly the same, the only thing is that sectors are packed closer together. Actually, you can even push your disk to 1992K if you use bigger sectors (=less sector header overhead), and use all 83 tracks (rather than the 80, that are used by default).

    2.88MB is a different format altogether, using a bit density which is twice as high. The new 32MBformat will be even more different, and probably not use MFM (the low level bit encoding of floppy disks) at all. It doesn't even connect to the floppy bus, but to USB!

  • > 32MB isn't enough for most OSes to boot from, even for those that are small enough it'll still transfer over the floppy bus - painfully slow for 1.44MB of data,

    Ermm, this device connects via USB, not via the floppy bus. So forget booting (unless your BIOS can boot from USB?), and floppies' traditional slowness: this will use USB's speed (still slow compared to a hard disk, but much faster than traditional floppies).

  • > . Slow transfer rates, fragile medium, low capacity. This latest invention seems to address the last, only.

    This devices connects using USB, which should also address the slow transfer rates problem. Actually, as it uses zone bit recording, rather than the traditional MFM, there's no way it could be connected "the usual way". Indeed, in the traditional PC floppy architecture, the encoding is handled by the floppy disk controller (on the motherboard), rather than the drive.

  • > In those applications where some device pretends to be a floppy, are the devices limited then to the slow data rate we see with floppies?

    If the device does indeed connect to the floppy bus, it is indeed limited to its slow datarate (1Mbps max, corresponding to 2.88 floppies). This is for example the case for floppy tape drives, as well as for those adapater floppies reading smartcards.

    Other devices, such as the LS-120 connect to the IDE bus (AFAIK), and are not limited by the slow floppy speeds.

  • The first drive out the gate is USB. Perchance improvements to the mechanism have been made...
  • Regarding consumer level MO drives:

    Take a look at Fujitsu's 1.3GB DynaMO drives.
    http://www.fcpa.com/product/mo/mo_model.html

    Currently they run about $300-400, with 5 packs of 3.5" 1.3GB disks for ~$100. While more expensive than Syquest/ORB drives, this puts them in the same price range as Jazz drives, but with very affordable (and FAR more reliable) media.

    I used to use a Jazz drive for backups/removable storage, but the $100-150 price for disks was just too painful. While I value my data, I can't afford Jazz disks in the amount I need; MO disks prove to far more reliable and much cheaper.

    Supposedly MO drives are more common in Japan and Europe (can someone else comment on this?) I'm hoping this will ensure that someone keeps making them, so I can get them in the US. Also be aware that the 3.5" 1.3GB format is Fujitsu/Sony proprietary, but the drives read other types up to 640MB as well.

    FWIW, I bought mine from buy.com.

  • Actually, machines that support 2.88 MB floppies have 1-2 Mbps floppy interfaces. That's 100-200KB/s, about the speed of a Zip disk, and people still seem to tolerate those.
  • 1. They only work in MultiRead drives... sometimes.
    2. You can read, you can write, but you can't delete. You can only "hide" files and wipe out the whole disk at once.
    3. They have a poor shelf life, not proven to be any better than floppy diskettes yet.
  • Communism demands atheism, Communism demands censorship of conflicting ideals, Communism demands a "dictatorship of the proletariat".

    I would not be able to exercise my natural rights of freedom of religion or speech, hence it's not an option.

    Communism is like Nazism, only the scholars and free thinkers are the persecuted instead of the Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals.

  • Because responding to a troll is as bad as being one.

    (Yes, I know I'm indirectly responding to a troll, so no need to point that out.)
    --
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • One 32MB Smartmedia card, one Smartmedia floppy adapter, and voila -- a 32MB floppy.

    Yes, I know; the USB Smartmedia reader costs about as much as a floppy and the floppy adapter is a hack. And yes, I know, if the floppy adapter makes it, manufacturers will replace the floppy drive with a Smartmedia reader and bypass the clunky floppy adapter. Nevertheless, I *do* have a 32MB floppy, today.

  • A friend spilled a beer on one of my mac disks in '84. ONce it dried, we forced the slide open, and the disk was fine.
  • Even if the quality level had been maintained (which I don't think has happened), the data is much more dense. A it now takes a much smaller flawto cover/crunch a bit out of existence.

    What I'd like to see on the drivers for these is massive error correction. 38 bits will detect 2 bit errors and correct one bit errors. Rather than putting a byte and it's correction code in a single place, spread it around the disk. Make certain that if the disk is physically damaged at any point, there is information elsewhere to retrieve it. I'd even reserve a sector for an XOR of the other sectors. Yep, it costs space, but less data is better than irretrievable data.
  • Okay...that's great...I now have a terabyte in used disks laying around, but what about the fact that floppy disks just ain't reliable?

    Though for the purposes mentioned the other day (carting around powerpoint presentations) and mp3 players, it could be nice. Wonder if I could compress it enough to fit a whole album on a floppy - lose some quality, but my car stereo isn't that great :)
  • I didn't list LOTS of things. Bournelli drives. Opticals. Flopticals. Tape. Micro-tape. VCR-adapters. Drive-bay. Sandisks. Memory Sticks. Paper printouts & readers.

    There've been many many alternatives. The IBM uDrives, (orig. 340 MB and the new 1 GB+) are simply one example.

    The point is that none of them supplanted the floppy except for mebbe the CD Drive. CD's are standard equipment on all PCs, most BIOSs support booting from the CD, and CD-R/Ws are *almost* a standard item.

    Unless it's markedly better I don't see any new technology supplanting CD. DVD perhaps when it comes down in price, or solid-state when it becomes both cheaper & more standardized but that's it.

    As to your drinking - get some help. It's pathetic you drink & read /.

  • The Sony Mavica used 3.5" floppies
    This could so revitalise the Mavica range of cameras. 32MB on disks that you can pickup almost anywhere.

    Anyway, since my ultralight doesn't have an internal FDD, I think I'll try to source one of these drives and see how it goes...

    --

  • Oh, it would need an entirely new range of Mavicas, just like when they added support for the MemoryStick adapter, but their main point has always been that the media is readily available (and that people are used to floppy disks, but that's less of an issue now). If you run out of media on holiday, would you rather be using SM/CF/MemoryStick or normal floppy disks?

    --

  • What could they add to the Linux Router Project floppies? A screensaver with pictures of your "favorite stars" like Britney Spears and N'Sync? Maybe they'll use the space to distribute Nazi and communist propaganda to millions of unsuspecting users.

    Personally, I think they should use the space to include a SETI client. (By the way, I'm bleeding with sarcasm).
  • Ahh yes, good old Apple ][ 5.25" floppies. Virtually indestructable -- I can remember tearing the media out of the jacket, playing frisbee, and then putting the media into the drive (some disassembly required) and actually have the media usable. Even the non-certified flip side was often usable (paper punch extra), albeit with a slightly higher error rate.

    What seems strange about floppies is that I have several re-used factory Win31 floppies that always seem to work. Newer floppies frequently seem to fail, although I do have some that get used a lot that work in spite of being used in all kinds of dusty, seldom-used floppy drives. It's kind of a crapshoot as to how reliable a 'new' floppy will be.

    On a slightly off-topic note, I can remember desperately wishing that PKZIP.EXE could generate parity disk(s) for multi-disk span sets, since it seemed that at least 25% of the time one of the disks would stop working, rendering the span set worthless. When traveling far with a span set I often made two sets with the idea that I could substitute another floppy to finish extraction.

    I find it hard to believe that a new 3.5 floppy format would find market success. There's too many entrenched players at all market levels -- Zip and SuperDisk at the low end, Jaz at the high end, CDR everywhere else with writable DVD formats looming on the horizon (Apple's DVD authoring system will likely be just enough market acceptance to stabilize a media/drive standard there).

    The place that seems to have the most room for innovation is the high-capacity removable market -- 8GB or more on a single cart. Writable DVD will likely hurt Jaz as an archival or temporary media, but I think there's still a need for a fast, high-capacity, removable rewritable disk system.
  • Sometimes floppies are the cheapest and easiest method of data transfer/archival.

    When I was an undergrad, my ISP was my university. Up until shortly before I graduated, connecting took anywhere from 2-3 minutes to a couple of hours due to the small size of their modem bank, and you were automatically kicked off after 2 hours. Downloading files of any size was not easy with my old 28.8K modem, and frequently it was much quicker and less frustrating to sneakernet data back and forth using floppies.

    Now I have a DSL connection and just ftp files back and forth.

    Over the course of a couple of years I probably purchased 200-300 disks in groups of 10 or 20. As Imation disks were what was available, they were generally what I purchased, although once their quality level became apparent, I did my best to find alternatives. I bought something like 100-150 imation disks and by now have tossed at least a third of those disks because they were immediately unusable or quickly became unreliable.
    I no longer store anything of value on Imation disks, nor do I leave trivial files on them for more than a couple of days.

    While having 15-20 out of 100-150 disks turn out to be defective immediately after purchase does not count as an exhaustive statistical study, it does seem indicative of a larger problem.

    I have better luck with diskettes that I've dumpter dived.

    Like Andre060 mentions below, I might have wondered if my drive was at fault, but I've seen Imation diskettes fail at home, at friend's houses, and in many school computers, so I kind of doubt that it's just the floppy drive.

    The bottom line for me is that the risk isn't worth it. If I want disks I'll spend a few cents more for the privilege of imagining that my data will still be there tomorrow.

    <flashback>
    "The elephant never forgets"

    zeke
  • Unless you have an iMac.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • I have one of the old parallel port Zip drives. Yeah, it can be slow, but it really isn't too bad. Sure it only holds 100 MB, and there is the possibility of the click 'o' death (but I hear that is only with the newer drives) - but it has been a great thing to have - and rugged as hell, too.

    What I do to make it the most portable, is I carry it in a little case (Zip makes one, but a good sized CD player case, with room for power supply and CDs, will work too, and are cheaper), along with a couple of Zip disks, the parallel cable, the power supply, and the most important part - a DOS floppy with Zip tools. Since the majority of machines I come across are Windows or DOS based, this isn't a problem - hook up the drive, pop the zip tools disk in, and run the mounting program (guest) - and you are set.

    Not as simple as a floppy, I'll grant - but very portable - better than hoping to find a scsi mounted or IDE Zip drive on the box. The only problem is that you are limited to DOS and Windows boxes (I currently have my zip drive hosted on my Linux box at home - so I know that Linux supports it, but I don't know if it is possible to build such a simple portable tools disk for Linux - anyone know?).

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!

  • This drive has a few advantages over the standard floppy:

    • USB based so you can take the drive as well as the disks with you when you want to transfer some files to another computer - this obviates the problem of the target computer needing a compatible media drive, the main problem with Zips and SuperDisks. Being USB should mean that it can transfer data faster as well as it isn't limited by the MFM controller on the PC. The Sony Mavica used 3.5" floppies, but had a custom MFM controller that worked 4-8 times faster (oh why can't VIA et al use this in their chipsets).
    • Slimline Drive that is under 1/2" high. When an IDE version is made, then this could become the floppy disk drive of choice for servers etc, and all thin clients and compact PCs.
    • 240MB capacity need I say any more?
    • Price at under $40 for an external slimline drive, this isn't priced too badly. An internal IDE (or USB version that connects to a motherboard USB header) version should be even cheaper. Still, an internal version would have to be under $25 to become a viable alternative to a $10 floppy.
    • Erm....

    However, the market is crowded in this area, and later this year a 500MB 'floppy' technology is going to be released, the PlayDrive or something, and the disks are small. Now if they would license the technology for free then maybe a real floppy replacement would be created, but if it remains proprietary then its success may be limited.

    The problem with USB is that you cannot boot from it at the moment. This would require BIOS support, and most BIOS manufacturers are more interested in adding overclocking features rather than hardware support to them at the moment. Still, this makes a pretty good laptop disk drive for simple file transfer (unlike CD-R which is too much effort to transfer a single file). Now if only ATX cases came with a space for front-facing USB ports to be inserted...

  • I should probably comment on why I bought those cheap SyQuest and Imation drives, right after I said that all removable drives but MO pretty much suck. Basically, if they all suck, you might as well get the cheapest one. :) That way, I was able to take advantage of the technology, while not paying a premium for absolute crap hardware.

    So, even though I will occasionally chastise people for buying low-end or cheaper mid-range stuff, I still reserve the right to buy them myself, should I decide that reliability (or functionality or whatever else the low-end or mid-range product is lacking) just isn't a factor in this purchase. I really hate advising people to use anything of debatable quality, because I know it will come back to haunt them. When it comes to me, I know that I can handle a couple floppies going bad from time to time. I don't have that same level of assurance when it comes to an anonymous stranger. I hope this explains why my post seemed to contradict itself.

    Anyways, in response to your question, MO drives actually have taken off, but not in the desktop PC world. If you're worried about being compatible with your friends' PCs with ZIP drives, then you definitely would be better off buying a ZIP drive.

    But why in the world would you want to buy multiple CD-RWs and create images of your hard drive? Wouldn't it be better to actually write to the hardware directly, at much, much higher speeds? Granted, a 10X CD-RW drive can write 640MB fairly quickly, but how long is that 10X drive going to take to write several gigabytes? Especially if it's over the EIDE ports, where you can only access one channel at a time, per port... which is a major problem if you have your hard drive and CD-RW on the same port (ie, master and slave respectively on the primary EIDE controller).

    Argh. This is all getting much more complicated than I had intended, and I'm not sure that I'm making too much sense. The basic advantages are thus:

    Advantages of MO over CD-RW

    • You can write to it like a hard drive (no creating images and burning to discs necessary)
    • Larger capacity (although, you can get smaller capacity MO drives, too)
    • More durable and reliable drives/media, since it's not a price-conscious, consumer-level product
    • It's like an external hard drive - there's no required software, drivers, or anything. True plug and play, as it were.

    Disadvantages of MO

    • The media and drive are more expensive
    • You need a CDROM anyways
    • Some older MO drives are proprietary
    • MO media is more difficult to find locally

    Basically, I'd say that MO is my favorite removable format. Tape isn't too bad, as it's damn cheap, but it suffers from other problems, most notably reliability and speed. You need to make sure that your backup tapes are good before you store them. Also, tapes are only good for backup, not much else. You can't really play MP3 files off of them...

  • It's true that floppy disks suffer from reliablity problems. Most cheap removable drives have had that plague them at least once in their life during the product development cycle. I've heard so many horrible stories about Iomega Zip drives and/or disks going bad, I've stayed away from them. SyQuest (and their decendant Castlewood) offer ultra-cheap drives and media with about the same or slightly worse reliability. I decided to go with SyQuest when I bought a removable drive. At the time when Zip disks were 100MB, mine were 1GB.. and cheaper! Eventually, I decided that playing around with parallel ports was pretty stupid, so I bought an Ultra2 Wide SCSI host adapter and some cool SCSI peripherals. Now, I've got four external U2W hard drives in an external rackmount chassis (bought it on ebay for a fraction of its actual worth), an external magneto-optical (MO) drive that reads and writes 2.6GB media at speeds near hard drives (I can actually install Windows 95 on a disc, without it being too slow to use), plus a very cheap 230MB magneto-optical (MO) 3.5" full-height drive. Unfortunately, as you might guess, the FH 230MB MO drive has given me some problems, as you don't really find too many FH 3.5" bays on PC cases. It doesn't really seem worth spending the money to make it external or fit a 5.25" bay, because the 2.6GB media is so damn cheap (~$30). The 230MB media is not much cheaper than that, even in quantity. My original plan was to replace my floppy drive with that MO drive, but it doesn't seem terribly likely that'll ever happen. So, I bought one of those Imation SuperDrives that stores 120MB or 1.44MB per floppy. It's very cool, except the media is way overpriced. Right now, I have only three superfloppies for it, and I don't plan on ever buying any more. Remember, guys, there's an entire universe outside of the IDE world. Firewire and SCSI MO drives offer incredible advantages over IDE, floppy, and parallel port superfloppies, not to mention CD-Rs and CD-RWs. I hesitate to imagine making nightly backups to CD-RW or superfloppy. Eeechh.
  • Hey, don't say that: now at last we can have (slightly) more reliable floppies.

    With more than 10 megs, you've got plenty of space to use Hamming codes[? [everything2.com]], which means much better security.

    Of course that will make floppy I/O slower, but hey, if you want speed, you don't use floppies !

    I live in a country where full-time internet access is still far from widespread. Floppies are essential for us. It is the only tool we have to transport small amounts of data (e.g. documents) between two places (e.g. office and home).

    Thomas Miconi
  • Now, I doubt this "new-and-improved" floppy will succeed. But you know, lets give credit to the makers. This is a marvellous hack. Just the fact that it can be done deserves applause.

    Now, I've read a lot of posts bitching about the floppy. "Oh the floppy doesn't hold very much." "You can't archive things for long times on a floppy." "Zips have replaced it." "CD-Rs are much more useful!"

    All of these arguements are valid, true. But you know, when I'm at school or the office and I need to move a small file to my house...damn its nice to pop in a floppy and take it home. I don't have a PC with a Zip. They're kinda hard to find. Not impossible, but not as convenient as a floppy. Same situation with a CD-R. I have a CD burner at home (go little 2x! go!) but not at work or school.

    And so this is why the floppy has survived for so long: Convenience. Nothing on the market has come close to being as convenient to use as the floppy. The Zip came *this* close, but never made it.

    So, until something can be as ubiquitous as the floppy, it'll still be around years from now.

  • Just off the top of my head, the already-mentioned Linux Router Project, the freesco [freesco.org] project, Tom's (very cool) rtbt [toms.net], etc. I use tomsrtbt all the time as an emergency rescue floppy, and I can only imagine all the cool stuff he could do with ~16-18 times more disk space (the level of functionality already acheived in 1.7Mb is amazing)...

    Heck, imagine having a floppy-based install where you don't have to disk swap for more drivers to enable networking? Slackware might actually be able to use disk sets other than A and N again on floppies... (not that I hold that against them, trying to fit things like X onto floppies is just silly in a masochistic sense) And I don't think it'd be too long before somebody makes a ZipSlack analog for this new tech.

    And all the ram-based/cdrom-based distros (i.e. ones that load into ram off a floppy like LRP or the demo linux projects) would have a cool new way to enable persistant storage of more than the smallest things (e.g. logging in HD-less LRP systems).


    --
    Fuck Censorship.
  • Error Correction.

    Even if 2 out of 3 bits are for EC, that's still 10MB. Also, I wonder what people are doing to these floppies. Of course they are going to get corrupted if you toss them around and leave them sitting on top of the monitor (come on, admit it people, you know you do it). I haven't had serious problems with floppies kept in a cool, dry place away from magnetism.

    I have to admit though, I don't trust important data to floppies. The irreplaceable stuff is backed up 3 ways: 1. On a second HD. 2. On CDR and 3. (some of it) on a remote server, which in turn has its own nightly tape backup.

    I live on the US East Coast so I don't see this system failing unless I have a fire that melts my CDs and my HDs followed by a California disaster that takes out the data center and its tapes.

    Hmmm... maybe I should get another remote backup in the Midwest. :)

  • When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle

    LOL!!! The Jungle mentioned in a comment on a floppy drive. I hope your hyperbole is intentional, because it's truly entertaining.

    If it isn't, well... you're a sad case and all I have to say is... this is a floppy drive we're talking about. Comparing it to the tragedy played out in Sinclair's novel is just... well... LOL!!! funny.

  • (shudder) The thought of 10TB of AOL just went through my mind.

  • but what about the transfer speed. would the technology to get the x-fer speed off the disk fast enough to stream an mp3 to a decoder for example, end up costing as much as the memory stick in the end anyway?

  • Yet another removable storage medium. Why?? There is hardly a computer anywhere that isn't connected to the Internet, and with websites like Driveway [driveway.com] and Xdrive [xdrive.com] which allow you to store your files for free on their servers and access them from any computer with a web browser, who needs disks?

    Am I the only one who thinks disks are dead?

  • "
    Not to mention that every computer user on the planet has a floppy drive.
    "

    ... that won't read these disks.

  • Finally a use for all those AOL disks. At least the CDs still make excellent drink coasters!


  • I think this battle has been run and lost. I haven't used removable media for literally years (apart from CDs, but they're different). I don't think much would convince me that this or Zip, or anything else like that is worthwhile -- I'd much rather spend the money on a faster Internet connection... so much more flexible and useful...

    rr

  • ...that will fit 32 MB onto a regular floppy disk...

    According to many Slashdot readers last October [slashdot.org], this is not a good idea.
  • Come on, "How many workers are going to die in the new factories that this new floppy design will require?"

    I do not think that anyone has ever died during the manufacture of floppy disks.
  • What's the access times on these? Will they be as slow as regular floppies? That's what kept me from purchasing a Superdisk drive last time (and instead bought a Zip, which is speedy).
  • Nazi and communist propaganda

    Its really sad that McCarthyism has managed to mangle your senses so much that you equate Communism in the same realm as Nazism.

    Do yourself a favour - learn to understand what Communism is. Please learn what Communism really means before you continue to blasphemy and besmirch its ideals. You may be surprised to find out it is a noble and worthwhile goal. Read the Communist Manifesto yourself.

    Back to Reality: The LRP could begin to include services on the dirty side of the firewall - so you could run the LRP and allow that machine to expose services to the Inet. Ive used the LRP (for a friends home network w/ DSL) and I thought it was great - but for my home network I would like to run Apache, ftp, OpenNap (whatever) on the same box... if LRP had a little more space they could set these things up for users automagically.

  • The "cooler than heck" Linux Router Project can't get anything over 1.88M to boot, so it would seem they couldn't do much of anything with these other than use then as coasters.

    Floppies are dead. Move on. Nothing to see here.

  • Wow! Did that come out of some sort of exaggerated argument generator? Good thing you deselected the Nazi reference, though. That would have been over-the-top.

  • Imagine what the cooler-than-heck Linux Router Project could do with these!

    I'm going to guess that nobody is going to use this drive with the LRP. Yes, we will do anything to fit more functionality onto our measly 1.68MB floppies, but spending money is strictly forbidden. The cost of one of these suckers would be better spent on an actual router.
  • Damn it! I must have thrown away 10 terabytes worth of AOL disks!
  • by KurdtX (207196)
    Are you kidding? What am I going to fit on a 32MB disk? Anything smaller than that I can email where I need it, anything larger I can burn to a CD. With all the file-sharing going on, I can walk into a computer lab naked and still get to any files I need.

    The only time I've needed a floppy in the past two years was to give to our career services center. I've got a mac with a CD-burner, but no floppy drive, so I offered to put it on CD for them - they didn't even know that was possible.

    I'd much prefer the "USB key" memory discussed yesterday for personal file storage, I already have a 256k SIMM on my keychain (non-functional); memory I could use would be great!

    Let legacy technology die, please....

    Kurdt
  • A lot of people are yacking about reliability. Quite honestly these drives promise to be just as reliable as any other removable media (except solid state stuff - but that is pricey compared to a floppy)

    If you treat a floppy right it will do well by you. But if you bend it, sit it next to your speaker coil (and people will) leave it in your car window on a sunny day, of course you're gonna have problems. Just like you have problems with CDs when you scratch them.

    It would be one thing if this was made by some unknown company out of China, but it isn't. Matsushita is a large company that knows what they are doing. Also, don't you think they took how people would treat the floppy when they were designing the drive????

    My LS120 drive is a very reliable drive (more so than that SPARQ 1 gig that I was sadly an early adopter of). One very neat thing about my LS120 drive is that I have had floppies that were impossible to read in my standard floppy drives for one reason or another, but I would plop them in my LS 120 and the data would fly off without hesitation!!

    So be careful with your media (like you're supposed to) and use drives wisely (make backups of important stuff - it's cheap enough to make a couple with this drive). You've heard this stuff over and over again, but there are always those who are caught with their pants down when something goes wrong. I'd bet alot of the dissers of this new drive don't have a tape backup for their hard drive even.

    So stop the pre-whining/pre-judging until at least it has been reviewed by somebody.
  • Ahh. And they are cheap. And people have hundreds of them at home sitting. Not to mention that every computer user on the planet has a floppy drive.
    1. They're slow
    2. They're fragile
    3. They don't have enough space no matter how much you can incrementally shove in
    4. They waste more resources in packaging than other media
    And so on.

    It's time to grow up. It's time to let go of the old technologies of yesterday. They're called cruft. They're called legacy. They slow us down and they make life harder and more expensive. There is no reason why, in the twenty-first century, that we should still be beholden to technology from decades ago. Power grids are failing in California because of their insistence on using old tech. Why would we inflict that on our own personal computers? Growing up means learning to let go.

    How much of this money that's been poured into incrementally improving floppy drives could've been spent on producing the next great thing in holographic storage? How many companies have independently squandered fortunes in this field? (I can count at least six in the past five years.) How far would the state of the art have come if we'd concentrated on what was best for the future of computing, instead of pandering to people's distorted views of what they want (more of the same) and not what they need (something radically different).

    Inventing a new floppy isn't relying on tried-and-true designs. It's a whole new beast, with its own bugs and its own manufacturing problems. When Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle [nist.gov] a century ago, he described how countless lives were lost in the meatpacking industry every year in having workers fall into vats of processed meat. How many workers are going to die in the new factories that this new floppy design will require? You can't just tack a new process onto an old assembly line; it'll require massive retooling and reconfiguration. Insurance rates will rise, and the price will become unbearable--unless they sell at a loss and drive competitors out of business, only to raise prices twofold in the end.

    Floppies are not the answer to our problem. Old problems don't require old solutions. They require new and exciting ones, ones that push the envelope, that expand the field of human possibilities. Future economies, nay civilizations, will be made or broken on the wheel of technology. Let's not hold progress back by clinging to yesterday's superstitions.
  • I'm just wondering what the heck are these floppies that everyone is talking about. Does anyone have some links or something so I can find out more about them? Just out of historical curiosity of course.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:58PM (#450892)
    Yeah, I agree - floppies are dead. Let them rest in piece.

    They only survive today because PCs have piss-poor support for boot devices, hell I work with files all day that wouldn't even fit on a Zip250 much less a 32MB floppy.

    32MB isn't enough for most OSes to boot from, and even for those that are small enough it'll still transfer over the floppy bus - painfully slow for 1.44MB of data, just as slow for 32MB of data. It should require new media in any case, much like you can't format a 1.44MB floppy 2.88MB in a 2.88 floppy drive.

    Of course if it doesn't need new media then it'll probably live in the land pioneered by Commodore's SFD (or was that SDF? May have crossed wires with memories of Robotech/Macross) series drives. Same media as smaller density drives, massive capacity (My SFD-2002 stored 2MB on a 5.25" DD disk - in the early 80s), yet completely unreliable for prolonged access or long-term storage.

    Just let the floppy die. The time would be better spent making USB/Firewire media bootable... (like they are on Macs)
  • by Hrunting (2191) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @08:41PM (#450893) Homepage
    Along came those crappy Zip-drives with 100 MB and they nearly made it 'cause they were relatively cheap and became almost ubiquitious. Iomega was smart and went for broad distribution over profits trying to become a standard but eventually their quality-control problems, competition, and internal problems overwhelmed them. Now their Zip drives have been passed by. They've tried variations - 200 MB Zips and 40 MB "Clicks" but the train has left the station.

    I don't know where you've been, but I'd have to say that ZIP drives have been a phenomenal success. I've definitely seen more ZIP drives than SuperDisk drives. Mac and Dell and Gateway all offer them, and if you go to college these days, you seriously can't get by without a ZIP drive. At my school, all of them had one, and that was in 1997.

    I'd say that ZIP drives made it all right.
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:05AM (#450894) Homepage Journal
    OK folks - the world is bigger then your own backyard. It doesn't matter if you, your school, your company, etc. use Zip disks the question is are they standard equipment on new computers as is the lowly 3.5" floppy.

    No.

    Yes there are places that Zips are common.

    Printing is one of them. Of course before Zips were popular in printing Bournelli's were also popular as were optical drives - hardly good measures of wide-spread or long-lasting success.

    Some schools went for them in a big way. They provided a way for students to transport files without the commitment and administration of a dedicated file server & remote access.

    Business also bought into them to some degree, generally for off-line storage of marginal material. As they also came as a built-in on a number of Dell & other's business models they got into the workplace.

    However in recent years built-in Zips have been largely supplanted by built-in CD-R/Ws. More reliable, cheaper media, stabler media, much more portable (more folks have a CD in their PC then a Zip.) Much of the Zip market is now replacement, folks with large libraries of Zip disks replacing older drives.

    As time as gone on Zips have shown their problems. The "Click of Death". Disks that can be read on some drives but no others, buggy drivers, drives that wear out quickly.

    I think anyone looking at today's market would agree that Zips are no longer a major product.

    Did they succeed as a product? Yes - they became a brand name, sold lots, made some profit. However did they succeed as to replacing the floppy (the topic at hand) - no.

    Indeed floppies themselves are becoming less & less a standard item. While Apple's iMac may have been the first to dispense with them they simply acted on what the rest of use know - floppies are going away.

    How many times does a year does a generic person use their floppy drive? In a networked environment how hard would it be to get along without one? I've had to train folks on how to use their floppy drives because they've NEVER had to use one. These aren't newbies - they're folks used to working in networked large-file environments. I haven't seen any software on a floppy in years. Indeed aside from the occasional boot-disk or Mavica-picture I haven't stored anything on a floppy myself in years.

    Zips had a good run but it's over. CD-RW, DVD-RW, solid-state, indeed with 80GB/7200RPM HDs selling for under US$200 external HD's are even a contender.

  • by K8Fan (37875) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @10:07PM (#450895) Journal

    At the Consumer Electronics Show, I saw the new DataPlay format. A lot of money behind it, tiny, rugged and 250 megs per side for a total of 500 megs in DVD-R format in a protected case the size of a Smart Card. See it at this web page. [dataplay.com]

    It does have optional "content protection" but it shouldn't stop people from using for their own material. The engineers I talked with seemed pretty open to drivers being written for various operating systems (they want to sell hardware). Come September, expect to see these suckers all over the place.

  • As far as the LRP is concerned, they are using a floppy because:
    • They want to have a filesystem that is immutable by setting the write protection on the floppy disc - get r00ted, just reboot.
    • They want to be cheap. (this won't be)
    • They run from a ramdisk for speed - just how much ram do you want to throw at this box that you are unwilling to put a HD in?


    Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to buy a disk-on-chip for the same or less money, and thus eliminate both moving parts and a flimsy, unreliable boot drive? Hell, for the same money you could put in a boot CD and drive - pull the "ejectable" jumper on a drive so equipped and voilla!

    This sounds like it will be as reliable in practice as say... 56K modems or some other such nasty kludge.

    Please, don't buy this.. I beg you people

  • by Zalgon 26 McGee (101431) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:36PM (#450897)
    Back in the early 90's it was supposed to be the next big thing - 21Mb in a 3 1/2" form factor.

    Never caught on. Unless there's a massive push on many fronts, this won't make it either. CDs are so cheap in quantity (just ask AOL) that the barrier to entry is high - why support a new format that no one uses?

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @09:00PM (#450898) Homepage
    Bad idea. High-density media need better protection for the media surface than the shutter on a floppy. There are lots of higher-density media with better packaging.

    I have a box of 230MB Fujitsu magneto-optical disks in front of me, and those are five years old. Mountable SCSI device, too; you could put a bootable system on them.

  • yeah, but floppies don't look as cool when you microwave them... ;-)

    I remember back in "The Day" when I new some crazy kids in the dorm who wrote some sort of script to auto-order member kits from AOL, just for the floppies. They'd come back every week or so from the post office with an armload of the things. I don't think AOL every caught on, the mail room guys just got pissed so they quit.


    --
    Fuck Censorship.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @09:37PM (#450900) Journal

    Why did you mod him down? duffbeer703 doesn't want the troll to die. It's German "Die Troll" for "The Troll". Right SideShowBob695?

    (Please don't moderate this unless you are a Simpson's fan and get the joke.)

  • by slashdoter (151641) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:29PM (#450901) Homepage
    just great, now I can lose 32mb of information with out reson


    ________

  • by Rares Marian (83629) <(gro.cdtyidtyikd ... dfgsdfgsdgsdhsh)> on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:31PM (#450902) Homepage
    On second thought, isn't that going to make it easier to destroy data accidentally?

    Dr. Blow: Mr Bond, the disk.
    Bond: Ok.
    Chick: You bahstard.
    Dr. Blow: Hey what's wrong with thing.
    Bond: I told her to keep it in her purse hoping that by the time she retrieved it would be so mishandled as to be useless.
    Chick and Dr. Blow: You Bahstard.
  • by cot (87677) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:27PM (#450903)
    I'm guessing these things aren't any more reliable than regular 1.44MB floppies.

    That's as much of a reason for me welcoming the demise of floppies as their diminutive size.

    We need something that is larger, as cheap, and more reliable. Wait a minute, how about CD-R(W)s?

    They are the floppy replacement. Forget this kind of stuff.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 07, 2001 @10:00AM (#450904) Homepage Journal
    I'd say that ZIP drives made it all right.

    Yeah, they made it "all right", but they didn't make it phenomenally, which is what they were after. They didn't do better than they ended up doing predominantly because of the click of death; I've had two drives succumb to that problem.

    In the end, though, I still have three (working) zip drives; USB, Ext. SCSI, and Int. SCSI. I only use the USB one, but the others sit around waiting for the day when I need them.

    I have Zip (and not Orb) because comparatively, everyone has a Zip. All the print shops have them, and so on. But not everyone actually has one, whereas everyone (except for Mac G3/G4 owners, typically) has a floppy drive. Floppies are largely useless for anything other than bootstrapping, but they do seem to get that particular job done in a barely acceptable fashion.

    Zip would have "made it" if they had become the replacement for the floppy. So far, nothing has become the replacement for the floppy. What does something have to do to fill that void?

    • It has to be cheap; No more than five times the cost of a floppy drive. That puts it between $35 and $50; Zip is STILL around $100.
    • Media has to be cheap; Mo more than five times the cost of a floppy disk (IE, less than five dollars.) Zip media is $5 to $10, even today, which is almost cheap enough, but not quite.
    • It has be be truly ubiquitous [dictionary.com] - everyone has to adopt it.
    • You have to be able to boot from it. Zip at least has that going, though not on all models (obviously, booting from parallel is out, likewise USB.)
    • It should be fairly speedy. We already know that Iomega can't make a fast removable media device. Period. Zip is agonizingly slow, Jaz is worse considering how much storage it has. By contrast, Syquest 135 (which died, sadly) was more reliable, over twice as fast as a zip, had more capacity, and media was about the same price. Too bad it came to market AFTER zip already had its toehold.
    • It should be reliable. Zip was anything but. Can you say "Click of Death"? Or how about how zip disks just lose data over time, like floppies?

    So, Zip meets none of the criteria. It's easy to see what happened there.


    --
    ALL YOUR KARMA ARE BELONG TO US

  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @08:22PM (#450905) Homepage Journal
    Ten years ago I could get a PC with a 2MB floppy on it. Later it became a 4 MB floppy drive. Then the vendors realized: Customers didn't care.

    Floppies were popular 'cause they were ubiquitious - classic fax-machine effect. Without that they were just a pricy non-standard piece of equipment.

    To succed they had to be cheap, rugged, and LOTS of folks had to have one.

    Along came those crappy Zip-drives with 100 MB and they nearly made it 'cause they were relatively cheap and became almost ubiquitious. Iomega was smart and went for broad distribution over profits trying to become a standard but eventually their quality-control problems, competition, and internal problems overwhelmed them. Now their Zip drives have been passed by. They've tried variations - 200 MB Zips and 40 MB "Clicks" but the train has left the station.

    Then the former folks from Syquest (the ones who pioneered much of the technology used in Zips but who lost out to Iomega in the consumer arena) came back with Castlewood and it's impressive Orb technology. 2 GB and fast with reasonably priced media but they don't have enough distribution to achieve broad penetration and without that they're just a niche product.

    Also recently there was the SuperDisk - able to read a generic 1.44 3.5" floppy plus it's own 100 MB ones. Neat trick but with a standard floppy drive US$7, a USB version $40 for the iMac folks, and a known-quantity Zip for US$75 what was the point of shelling out US$200?

    So now we've got another floppy contender. It's coming into a tough market.

    CD-R/W offers 660 MB in a fairly standard format and at speeds up to 12x. Quality media is US$1-US$2, market penetration is high and there are even versions on digital cameras and other consumer devices now.

    The DVD-R/CD-RW drives have just been introduced ofering high-speed play, reasonably fast recording, access to lots of devices and of course lots of storage.

    On the other end we've got solid-state media expanding in density with 32 MB & 64 MB becoming popular at reasonable price points.

    We've even started seeing USB-connected solid-state memory (see yesterday's /.) shipping for ~US$50 for 8 MB, surely larger is to follow.

    What are the odds of another floppy-drive format making it?

    Well, pretty slim. There are faster, and there are more capacity, and there are smaller form-factor, and there are more stable. With this new one excelling at none of these and only being so-so at all of them it seems destined for the also-ran list. It offers nothing that can't be gotten cheaper / more standard / more reliable / faster /etc. elsewhere.

    Sorry.

  • by SimplyCosmic (15296) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @07:33PM (#450906) Homepage
    While this is good news in terms of portable storage, the fact that it uses standard floppies is a bad thing, to me at least.

    Maybe it's because the profit margin on the average floppy today is so small, or maybe it's just my imagination, but those disks just don't seem to last as long as they used to.

    Nearly every day in the dorms, being the "computer geek" everyone knew, I'd get someone running down to me with a floppy that they had saved their 27 page final report on, that suddenly was showing disk errors. I shudder to think of the number of times I had to give them the bad news that floppies aren't the most reliable methods of storage anymore, and their work was lost.

    So, this means 31 extra megs of term papers to lose. Joy!

  • by zeke (17337) on Tuesday February 06, 2001 @08:15PM (#450907)
    That's exactly the same thing I thought upon reading the blurb. Years ago when I used an apple //c on a regular basis, I almost *never* had a disk go bad on me. Most of them - and I bought the crudiest, cheapest, $30-for-100-disks kind I could find - still work 15 years after I acquired them. Admittedly, we're talking ***LOW*** data storage rates, so perhaps the individual bits weren't as suceptible to random EM fields, but still...

    In the early 90's when I started using msdos pc's, the 1.44 meg disks I bought were also pretty reliable. You could buy sony, fujitsu, 3M, etc. Most of those disks still work today.

    Nowadays Imation (the-diskette-manufacturer-formerly-known-as-3M) has the cheap disk market pretty sewn up around here. Walmart, school bookstores, and corner convenience stores all seem to stock Imation disks and nothing else. The downside? I tend to get 1 or 2 bad diskettes from every box of 10 I buy. This is _straight_ out of the box. I stuff one in the drive, write something to it, and find out that it's immediately unretrievable.

    Part of the trouble is the stinkin' cheap quality of the disks. If you have one, pull it out and try flexing it slightly. Note that the two halves of the disk shell are only connected together at the corners. Imagine how many dust particles get through the unsealed seam during regular use. Now imagine those dust particles carving deep trenches in the regions where your data is stored. Lovely.

    If you have get one of these drives, be careful what brand media you buy for them.

    zeke

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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