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Old 25th February 2017, 1:45 PM   #1
pinkfloydeffect Thread Starter
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Question Did Floppy Drives Improve?

I am on a new kick with collecting old computers both to keep parts myself and for scrap or eBay value. So I am now trying to build up an early 90s AT tower case to hold ATX components, with all the old school drives...floppys, tapes, zips, HDD blanks (with status light) it will remind me how far we have come every day. I will do my best to make everything functional too, but this made me wonder as I find floppy drives am I just playing with face colors and styles or are some better than others? Would be cool to have drives that say IBM on them, but as the CD drive improved in speed I wonder if the same applies to floppy drives? I am mostly referring to 5.25" floppys because 3.25" did not seem to change besides for noise levels. Possibly the interface connector style changed on floppy drives with later models providing greater bandwidth?
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Old 25th February 2017, 2:46 PM   #2
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Probably a good place to start:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histor...he_floppy_disk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...y_disk_formats

Essentially improvements over the years came down to an increase in capacity. By the 1990's, you'd be looking at 1.2 MB 5.25" Floppy Drives and 1.44 MB Floppy Drives being the norm so that's where I'd start.

FYI if you want to save space, a lot of the manufacturer released 5.25" / 3.5" combo drives which fits both drive within the 5.25" drive bay such as this one for example. Quite an amazing bit of technology if you think about where drives originally came from. The first 5.25" floppy drive as found on the original IBM PC took up two 5.25" drive bays in height and had a 160Kb capacity (a little later upgraded to 360Kb). Here we have a 5.25" 1.2 MB Drive taking up only half a 5.25" drive bay with room for a 3.5" drive to boot!
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Old 25th February 2017, 2:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamin Joe View Post
The first 5.25" floppy drive as found on the original IBM PC took up two 5.25" drive bays in height and had a 160Kb capacity (a little later upgraded to 360Kb). Here we have a 5.25" 1.2 MB Drive taking up only half a 5.25" drive bay with room for a 3.5" drive to boot!
And to think you can now easily purchase 128GB of storage the size of your thumbnail and not much thicker..
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Old 25th February 2017, 3:26 PM   #4
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At 300-400RPM and fixed densities, there's really no way to make floppy disk transfer speeds any better. Spinning hard disks get faster each generation for a combination of reasons, but the biggest physical factor is that the densities are higher, so you're reading/writing more data for the same angular velocity (i.e.: for the same speed and distance travelled across the surface of a platter, you're reading more data because it's more tightly packed together).

If you're looking to spruce up an old system purely for speed, a 3.5" floppy disk emulator that writes virtual floppy drive images to a USB stick is the answer:
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/usb-floppy-emulator

The only downside is it doesn't look the part. So if you're going for authenticity, that's no good. But practically, it can do everything a real floppy did (and works in anything that used a standard 34pin floppy interface, including things like 16bit console disk copiers and other weird hardware).
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Old 25th February 2017, 4:29 PM   #5
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Real floppy drives are fine. Though many S/H will fail to function correctly.
Put that down to cleaning mostly. I'd still persist going for the real authentic look / path.
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Old 25th February 2017, 5:40 PM   #6
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I am not talking about the floppy itself, just the drive. CD drives had a read/write speed increase over the years and I was not sure if floppy drives evolved the same way. You used to see early optical drives say 4X or something then years later we were up to 52X, etc.

I like the idea of saving space with that 3.25"/5.25" combo drive but the 5.25" does not have the awesome manual locking tab or else I would buy one.
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Old 25th February 2017, 5:57 PM   #7
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The Imation SuperDisk could read back 3.5" floppies quicker than a normal drive.
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Old 25th February 2017, 6:19 PM   #8
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It's not going to matter too much on the floppy drives. What you pick.
Common ones were Sony Panasonic in 3.5 & Teac in 5.25.

What counts in a WOW machine for me is the aesthetics.
Those sun affected beiges are hard to match.
Then the case......there are some real beauties. Then others cheap steel built.

The calibre of the machine I base on the boards first.
Then PSU, cpu, gpu, hdd, cooler. Really opticals & floppy's are accessories.
Some of the creative & Ricoh drives will get a second look as cool in the day.
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Boy those were great times, challenging to find em like that now.
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