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Floppy Disk Drive

Alan Shugart

The floppy disk drive is a form of data storage technology that was invented by Alan Shugart in 1967. The disk was the result of a project at IBM, code named “Minnow.” The original disk was a bare flexible piece of mylar, a type of plastic material, coated in a magnetic substance that would allow the computer to read and write on it. Eventually they put the flat disk inside a plastic sleeve to protect it from debris and out substances that could cause damage. The entire sleeve was inserted into the computer, so the user never had any real prolonged contact with the disk.
The floppy disk drive evolved a lot over time in both size and capacity. The original was an 8 inch disk that held the equivalent of about 3,000 punch cards, which were also made at IBM. The disk was created to replace the punch card, it was planned so well that the engineers even accommodated how the shift in technology would affect the performance of those who needed to use it. The next installment in the series was the “floppy,” named after the flexibility of the envelope it was placed in. The 5.25 inch version of the disk held 360 KB, though it was soon replaced by the most recent version of the apparatus. The 3.5 inch disk, nicknamed the “diskette,” was the smallest and final version of the floppy disk drive. Not only was it a fraction of the size of the original, but it was able to hold significantly more data than its predecessor, 1.44 MB.
Eventually, the 3.5 inch disks won out over the other and became a staple for computing in the 90’s. Soon after, floppy disks died in the eyes of the public, being left behind for more favorable technologies, though they are still used in the military.

IBM. n.d. “The Floppy Disk.” IBM. Accessed December 20, 2021. https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/floppy/.

IBM. n.d. “The Floppy Disk.” IBM. Accessed December 20, 2021. https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/floppy/breakthroughs/.

Brown, Gary. n.d. “How Floppy Disk Drives Work.” How Stuff Works. Accessed December 20, 2021. https://computer.howstuffworks.com/floppy-disk-drive1.htm.

IBM. n.d. “The Floppy Disk.” IBM. Accessed December 20, 2021. https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/ibm100/us/en/icons/floppy/transform/.