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

Liam Proven lproven at
Mon Jun 6 09:44:13 CDT 2016

On 5 June 2016 at 17:19, Chuck Guzis <cclist at> wrote:
> I doubt it.  The ED floppy did not come at a good time.  Clone (okay,
> second-source) manufacturers had adopted the HD format wholesale and the
> price of HD floppies themselves had dropped to the level of DD prices.
> By 1990, most if not all, new PCs had HD droves and even Apple was able
> to understand the PC format.  When ED floppies were released to the
> general unwashed public, integrated FDCs largely could not handle the
> 1Mbps data rate, so adopting the format meant changing the FDC (fraught
> with problems if said FDC was integrated into the motherboard) and
> buying a new drive and expensive media.  Perhaps the media price would
> have fallen if adopted.  That's not a sure thing, however--prices never
> fell on floptical (3M superdisk, Caleb SHD, etc.) media.
> Also, by 1990, IBM was no longer an industry leader in PCs, nor did it
> set the technical standards (MCA pretty much did that in).
> But I don't think that a high-capacity Zip would have made a dent in the
> CD-R market.  I'm not aware of many consumer-grade audio players that
> can handle Zip disks of any stripe.
> Too little, too late is probably another aspect.

Hmm. I got a blog post out of this:

... where I developed the idea slightly.

Others on FB agree with you.

The HD 3.5" (1.4MB under MS-DOS) floppy itself was a big leap from the
DD (720kB) one. Most of the 16-bitters never made it: the disk
controllers of the Atari ST, Amiga, etc. couldn't handle it. AFAIK
there's only one ZX Spectrum interface that did -- the Czech MB02:

I must confess I rather fancy one. :-)

So, yes, ED was a big step, but so was HD in its time. I think the IBM
PS/2 (1987) was the origin, right?

And there was never a 720kB IBM standard, only on things like Apricots.

According to Wikipedia...

... the 3.5" timeline was:

* 1983 -- SS/DD
* 1984 -- DS/DD, probably the most widespread
* 1986 -- HD, the PC standard
* 1987 -- ED, the 2.8MB ones that didn't catch on
* 1991 -- 21MB floptical
* 1994 -- 100MB Zip
* 1996 -- 120MB floptical
* 1997 -- 240MB floptical

That gap from '87 to the equally unsuccessful 21MB format, was the
killer, IMHO. If everyone had adopted the ~3MB disks, it might have
lived, but that probably wasn't enough on its own. Thus my speculation
as to whether pure magnetic ~6MB diskettes might have been viable
around 1988-1989 and ~12MB ones around 1990.

Liam Proven • Profile:
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