SuperDisk (1997 – early 2000s)

SuperDisk (also known as LS-120, and later LS-240) was a high-capacity 3.5-inch floppy disk, introduced by Imation in 1997. Initially it has a capacity of 120 MB, but was later refined by Matsushita to hold 240 MB.

Like the Floptical disk, lasers guided the magnetic read/write head.

It was backwards compatible with 720 KB and 1.44 MB 3.5-inch floppy disks, but not with older Macintosh-formatted diskettes. Iomega’s Zip Drive had also been on the market for several years when it was launched, and there was little interest in the SuperDisk system, especially when prices of CD-R and CD-RW drives and USB flash drives fell, and it was discontinued in the early 2000s.

Sources / Resources

Floptical (1991 – 1993)

Floptical was a brand of drive introduced in 1991 by Insite Peripherals, and was also the name of the technology which was a type of floppy disk combining magnetic and optical systems. Floptical disks were the same size as the standard 3.5-inch floppy disk, and Floptical drives could read these using a second set of read/write heads.

Data is written to the disk magnetically, while optically aligning the read/write head in the drive using grooves in the disc being sensed by an infra-red LED. The optical servo tracks allowed for an increase in the tracking precision of the magnetic head, from the usual 135 tracks per inch to 1,250 tracks per inch, allowing 21 MB of storage.

Insite licensed the floptical technology to a number of companies and a number of these formed the Floptical Technology Association, or FTA, to try to have the format adopted as a floppy replacement.

Around 70,000 Floptical drive are believed to have been sold worldwide in the product’s lifetime, although it had lingering quality and reliability issues, and was generally much slower than other technologies such as the Iomega Zip. Iomega had licensed the Floptical technology, but dropped it in favour of their own Zip drive.

Later non-compatible floptical systems included SuperDisk and HiFD.

Sources / Resources

Wikipedia entry for Floptical

Yesterday’s Technology entry for Floptical