HiFD (1998 – early 2000s)

The HiFD (High capacity Floppy Disk) was an attempt by Sony to replace their own 3.5-inch floppy disk.

It was initially launched in 1998 with a capacity of 150 MB, and whilst the drive was backwards compatible with 3.5-inch floppy disks by using dual heads, HiFD disks were shaped so that they could not be inserted by mistake into a standard 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. The separate HiFD read/write head worked more like a hard disk head, gliding over the surface of the disk without touching it, alllowing the HiFD disk to rotate at 3,600rpm.

It competed with the Zip drive, which had a capacity of 100 MB, and the SuperDisk, which then had a capacity of 120 MB. It was predicted that HiFD would be a success and replace the 3.5-inch floppy disk, but read/write head misalignment problems meant a full recall in 1999.

It was relaunched in November 1999, with 200 MB capacity, but could not read or write to the previous version’s 150 MB disks.

By this time the Zip drive now sported a 250MB capacity and CD-RW drives were entering the mainstream. These factors doomed HiFD to failure.

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