Floppy D’s



Like many Americans, I have loads of blind spots when it comes to the origin/history of the items that have enriched my existence. The floppy disk is one of my blind spots. When I started using computers floppy disks were the only way to get my essay from the public library to the school library for a top notch print out.

There is a famous Japanese inventor named Yoshiro Nakamatsu. I highly recommend reading up on him and his life. Guy has over 3,300 patents and some bananas inventions that make a lot of sense. The Smithsonian has a great article on him. According to Nakamatsu, he invented the “apparatus” in 1950 and got a patent for it 2 years later. He licensed a whole mess of his patents related to the technology to IBM in the 70s. IBM had a team working on the technology starting in 1967 in an effort to replace the hole-punched paper that people were using at the time. They released the memory disk in 1971.

The original disk was 8″ in diameter, a capacity of 80 KB, and had a flexible casing that let it wiggle around. It was released under the name of memory disk but the term floppy disk had gotten out ahead of it and people were digging that more. It’s successor was a compact 5.25″ in diameter dubbed diskette and was shown off in 1972, 160 KB capacity and had a sturdier casing to keep its data safe when carting them around. It was, eventually, shrunken down to 3.5″ and got up to holding 2.88 MB (2880 KB).

The floppy began its decline in the very late 90s and lost its widespread usage through the early 00s. Kids these days are all up in the cloud and have never suffered the experience of finding that your floppy disk had been magnetized or your CD got a file disrupting scratch. Lucky little bastards.

Floppy disks and drives are still easy to find if you feel like jumping back a couple decades in your data storage and management. I don’t really know why you would want a less capable and less reliable storage system, but that’s your deal.