thinking of the "ultimate" retro x86 PCs - what bits to seek/keep ?

Liam Proven lproven at
Sun Jun 5 07:04:00 CDT 2016

On 3 June 2016 at 01:16, Chuck Guzis <cclist at> wrote:
> 2.88M 3.5" floppies were a huge mistake (there were also 2.88M 5.25"
> ones as well).  The media was expensive (I think I paid nearly $50 for
> box of 10 DSED floppies and the drives needed FDC support.  That being
> said, most P2 and later boxes did have 2.88M FDC support.  Drives were
> uncommon (e.g. Teac FD235J).  I think that I've seen all of about five
> floppies in for conversion over the last 20 years in 2.88M format.

That's more than I've seen.

I'm surprised at your evaluation, though. It did seem to me that if
the floppy companies & PC makers had actually adopted them wholesale,
the floppy disk as a medium might have survived.

The 2.8MB drives never really took off widely, so the media remained
expensive, ISTM -- and thus little software was distributed on the
format, because few machines could read it.

By 1990 there was an obscure and short-lived 20MB floptical diskette format:

Then in 1994 came 100MB Zip disks, which for a while were a
significant format -- I had Macs with built-in-as-standard Zip drives.

Then the 3½" super floptical drives, the Imation SuperDisk in 1997,
144MB Caleb UHD144 in early 1998 and then 150MB Sony HiFD in late

None of the later ones could read 2.8MB diskettes, AFAIK.

After that, writable CDs got cheap enough to catch on, and USB Flash
media mostly has killed them off now.

If the 2.8 had taken off, and maybe even intermediate ~6MB and ~12MB
formats -- was that feasible? -- before the 20MB ones, well, with
widespread adoption, there wouldn't have been an opening for the Zip
drive, and the floppy drive might have remained a significant and
important medium for another decade.

I didn't realise that the Zip drive eventually got a 750MB version,
presumably competing with Iomega's own 1GB Jaz drive. If floppy drives
had got into that territory, could they have even fended off CDs?
Rewritable CDs always were a pain. They were a one-shot medium and
thus inconvenient and expensive -- write on one machine, use a few
times at best, then throw away.

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