Tagged: data

Exatron Stringy Floppy (1978 – 1986)

The Exatron String Floppy was introduced in 1978, and was an endless loop tape cartridge system for microcomputers. At the time, floppy disk systems were still expensive, and cassette tapes were very slow. Despite the name, so-called stringy floppy systems are unrelated to floppy disks.

The tape cartridges, called wafers, contained a 1/16-inch loop of mylar-based chrome dioxide tape, in different lengths according to the capacity of the wafer. The smallest wafer contained 5 feet of tape and could hold 4 KB of data, and the longest was 75 foot and, capable of holding 64 KB of data. A 16 KB file took just 24 seconds to load.

The Exatron Stringy Floppy system was most commonly used with the TRS-80 range of computers, and did not require an expansion interface. By 1982, the price has fallen to $99.50. As well as being used to save data, software, including programs and games, was available on Stringy Floppy wafers.

Although popular with TRS-80 owners, the system could be unreliable, and as the price of faster and more reliable floppy disk drives fell they became less attractive. They continued to be advertised until 1986.

Similar stringy floppy tape systems were available during the 1980s, including the Sinclair ZX Microdrive, and the Rotronics Wafadrive.

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Iomega Zip 250 (2001 – 2003)

Zip was a high-capacity floppy disk format originally introduced in 1995 by Iomega. Initially, it had a capacity of 100 MB, later increased to 250 MB in 2001, and again to 750 MB in 2002.

The Zip 250 drives were available in a wide variety of interfaces; parallel port, USB 2.0 and FireWire for exernal drives and IDE or SCSI for internal drives.

Although the disks looked identical to Zip 100 disks, they could not be used in the smaller capacity drive and are automatically ejected. They could however be read and written to by the later Zip 750 drives. Zip 250 drives could read and write to the older Zip 100 disks. A variant on the Zip 250, the Zip U250 was also launched in 2001; the U250 disks contained titanium particles in the media to improve the operation of the drives, and were also self-cleaning. The U250 discs were full compatible with Zip 250 drives despite their different shape.

Even before the introduction of the Zip 250, sales of Zip drives had begun falling due to the falling cost of CD-R and CD-RW disks, followed by USB memory sticks.

All Zip variants were discontinued in 2003.

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Iomega Zip 750 (2002 – 2003)

Zip was a high-capacity floppy disk format originally introduced in 1995 by Iomega. Initially, it had a capacity of 100 MB, later increased to 250 MB in 2001, and again to 750 MB in 2002.

The new Zip 750 drives were available in various interfaces; USB 2.0 and FireWire for exernal drives and IDE for internal drives.

Although the disks looked identical to Zip 100 and Zip 250 disks, they could not be used in smaller capacity drives and are automatically ejected. However, Zip 100 discs could be read in Zip 750 drives, and Zip 250 disks can be both read and written to, so users with existing Zip disks could continue to use them. The introduction of the Zip 750 meant that Zip disks had a higher capacity than the competing CD-R or CD-RW disks. However, the cost of Zip 750 disks was much higher than CD-R or CD-RW media, and by the time of its introduction, many PCs had CD burners installed.

The Zip 750 was short-lived as all Zip versions were discontinued in 2003.

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Coleco Adam High Speed Digital Data Pack (1983 – 1985)

The Coleco Adam was a home computer introduced by Coleco in 1983. It was available as a standalone computer, or could be bought as an expansion pack for the ColecoVision game console.

Like other home computers of the time, the Coleco Adam used a tape drive as one means to store programs and data, but this was not a standard Compact Cassette drive. The dual ‘Adam High Speed Digital Data Pack’ tape drives used a slightly modified type of Compact Cassette that ran at much higher speed than usual, had a different configuration of holes in the shell, and used thicker tape. These could store 256 KB, and ran at 20 inches per second (ips) when reading/writing and and 80 ips when rewinding. Blank Digital Data Packs  were supplied pre-formatted and could not be formatted by the user.

As well as the Digital Data Pack drives, the Adam had a ROM cartridge slot that accepted all ColecoVision cartridges as well as its own (it could play ColecoVision games even as a standalone computer). Later in production, a 5.25-inch disk drive was made available as an accessory.

The Coleco Adam had other unusual features such as a dedicated daisywheel printer (that also contained the power supply), built-in word-processing software, and the CP/M operating system as an option.

Unfortunately, delays in its introduction, and build quality issues led to it being discontinued in 1985. One particular problem was that tapes left in the drives or near the machine when it was turned on could suffer data loss.

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StorageTek 9840 (1998 – 2009)

The StorageTek 9840 was a magnetic tape system for data backup, primarily for mainframe use. The series was first introduced in 1998 with the T9840A, which had an uncompressed capacity of 20 GB. The final incarnation was the T9840D which had a capacity of 75 GB.

The StorageTek 9840 was unusual compared to its competitors such LTO and Super DLT, and to other StorageTek formats such the T10000, as the cartridges contained two reels, reducing the amount of tape that was stored in the cartridge but making loading of the tape very fast. Like many other backup tape cartridges, it used serpentine recording and ½-inch tape.

The T9840B doubled the data transfer rate of the T9840A model, making it the fastest tape drive at the time, though it was considered expensive compared to rivals, especially as its capacity was lower.

The final 9840 drives were shipped in 2009.

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Sony Professional Disc for DATA (2004 – 2007)

Professional Disc for DATA (also known as ProDATA) was an optical disc format introduced in 2004 by Sony. It was intended for creating backups of data, and had a capacity of 23GB per side.

It is virtually identical to (but incompatible with) Professional Disc, used for the XDCAM digital video system. However, both formats used blue lasers, and both discs came in protective caddies.

Both write-once and rewritable versions were available.

In 2006, recordable Blu-ray discs (BD-R and BD-RE) became available, and in 2007, Professional Disc for DATA was declared ‘end of life’ by Sony. Since 2009, Sony has also introduced the ability to store data on Professional Discs for the XDCAM system, in a dedicated ‘User Data’ folder.

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Blu-ray Disc Recordable Erasable (BD-RE) (2006 – )

Blu-ray Disc Recordable Erasable (BD-RE) is a high-capacity optical disc that can be erased and re-recorded multiple times, and is a type of Blu-ray Disc that can be read in all Blu-ray Disc drives. The similar BD-R discs can only be written to once.

BD-RE drives can be found in computers and personal video recorders (PVRs).

Disc capacities are 25 GB for single-layer discs, 50 GB for double-layer discs, 100 GB for triple-layer, and 128 GB for quadruple-layer.

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Nomai MCD 540 (1995 – 1999)

The Nomai MCD (Multimedia Cartridge Drive) 540 was a rigid disk cartridge system for personal computers, and was introduced by the small French company Nomai in 1995.

At the time, the capacity of 540 MB was considered good and the system was competively priced, but the MCD 540 was soon competing with SyQuest’s SyJet and the Iomega Jaz disc with capacities of between 1 and 2 GB.

The MCD 540 was available with SCSI and IDE interfaces and could be used with PCs or Macintosh computers. The cartridge was physically very similar to the SyQuest 270 cartridge, but was not compatible with the SyQuest 270 drive. Nomai used its own technology for tighter sealing and higher rotational speeds.

Nomai was involved in lawsuits with both Iomega and SyQuest over some of its other products, and was bought by Iomega in 1998, ceasing production of all products in 1999.

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Sony Memory Stick / Floppy Disk Adaptor (2000 – 2001)

The Memory Stick / Floppy Disk Adaptor (MSAC-FD2M) was introduced by Sony in 2000 for use in several of its Mavica line of digital cameras, and allowed the cameras to use a Memory Stick as an alternative form of storage.

The adaptor had the same form-factor as a 3.5-inch High-Density floppy disk, and incorporated a slot for a Memory Stick. The adaptor could be used in PCs (it could also be used in Macs, but was read-only) after installing suitable drivers. The adaptor required two lithium batteries to operate.

In the new Mavica cameras, users had a choice of using floppy disks for storage (as a number of previous Mavica models offered), or a Memory Stick with the adaptor which had the advantage of higher capacity (at the time, this was up to 64 MB).

By 2001, Sony had introduced Mavica cameras with dedicated Memory Stick slots, so an adaptor was no longer required.

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Mini CD-R / CD-RW (1990s – )

Mini CD-R (CD-Recordable) and Mini CD-RW (CD-Rewritable) are 8cm versions of CD-R/CD-RW. They can hold anything from 156 MB (18 minutes of music) to 210 MB (24 minutes of music).

They can be written to in spindle-based or tray-loading CD-R / CD-RW burners (and read in spindle-based or tray-loading Compact Disc players) but there were also some devices that were specifically designed around the Mini CD-R/CD-RW.

One of these was a number of models in the Sony Mavica line of digital cameras. The first of these was the MVC-CD1000 released in 2000, which could record to Mini CD-Rs. Later models in the line (the last of which was released in 2003) could use either Mini CD-R or Mini CD-RW.

There was also a portable Mini CD-R burner called the Imation RipGo! that was introduced in 2001. This could burn MP3 files to disc, and also play them back. Sony also introduced a Mini CD burner (called the PhotoVault), allowing pictures to be saved from a Memory Stick, USB flash drive, or camera with a USB connection.

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