Tagged: disk

Disk (or diskette) is normally used when describing magnetic storage media (such as floppy disks) whereas disc is normally used for optical media.

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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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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Phase-change Dual (PD) disk (1995 – 1998)


Introduced by Panasonic in 1995, the Phase-Change Dual (PD) disk is a rewritable optical disc similar to later technologies like CD-RW. They have a capacity of 650MB and could be rewritten 500,000 times.

Like DVD-RAM disks, they are enclosed in a protective cartridge.

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Quantum GoVault (2006 – )

The GoVault is a removable hard disk cartridge system introduced by Quantum in 2006 and aimed at the small business market. The cartridges consist of a 2.5-inch hard disk drive in a rugged case that is claimed can withstand drops of up to 1 metre onto a hard surface. The GoVault dock can be internal (using either the 3.5 or 5.25-inch form factors) or external.

Initial capacities were 40GB, 80GB or 120GB, with 160GB and 320GB versions being released later.

GoVault is intended for data backups, and although more expensive than tape, has the advantage of being capable of being accessed in the same way as any other hard disk drive.

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3.5-inch hard disk drive (1983 – )

Hard disk drives consist of one of more rigid disks (or platters) with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces.

The 3.5-inch form factor hard disk drive is one of the two dominant types on the market, with the other being 2.5-inch. The 3.5-inch form factor hard disk drive was introduced by Rodime, a Scottish company, in 1983. Rodime already built hard disk drives using the 5.25-inch form factor, but introduced the smaller size that utilised the form factor already introduced for 3.5-inch floppy disk drives.

The first 3.5-inch hard disk drive had a capacity of 10 MB. After its introduction, many competitors introduced hard disk drives using the 3.5-inch form factor, and Rodime sued many other disk manufacturers for infringement of its patents.

Whilst called 3.5-inch, the drives occupy a space 4-inches wide, and were initially 1.6-inches high (the same as the then current ‘half-height’ 3.5-inch floppy disk drives), but the most popular size today is the 1-inch high ‘slimline’ or ‘low-profile’ version.

As of 2014, the largest capacity 3.5-inch hard disk drive is 10 TB, equal to 1,000,000 times the capacity of the first disk.

Whilst not strictly speaking removable media, 3.5-inch hard disk drives form the basis for many external hard disk drives such as those connected by USB, and docks are available to read many hard disk drives without installing them.

Solid-state drives using flash memory are beginning to replace hard disk drives for uses where speed, power consumption and durability are more important considerations, such as in tablet computing.

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2.5-inch hard disk drive (1988 – )

Hard disk drives consist of one of more rigid disks (or platters) with magnetic heads arranged on a moving actuator arm to read and write data to the surfaces.

The 2.5-inch form factor is one of the two dominant types on the market, with the 3.5-inch form factor being the other. 2.5-inch hard disk drives were introduced in 1988 by PrarieTek and have become most common in laptops and other mobile devices, as well as game consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

They are normally 9.5mm high with a single platter, but taller drives with two or more platters have been produced, as well as smaller sizes (a 5mm version by Western Digital was introduced in 2013 for use in UltraBooks).

Whilst not strictly speaking removable media, 2.5-inch hard disk drives form the basis for many external hard disk drives such as those connected by USB, and docks are available to read hard disk drives without installing them.

Solid-state drives using flash memory are beginning to replace hard disk drives for uses where speed, power consumption and durability are more important considerations, such as in tablet computing.

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SyQuest 5.25-inch (44/88/200MB) (1988 – 1998)

The SyQuest 5.25-inch disks were removable hard-disk cartridges, initially introduced by SyQuest in 1988.

The SQ400 cartridge had a capacity of 44 MB, and the SQ800 (released in 1991) had a capacity of 88 MB. Initially, the 88 MB drives could only read and not write to 44 MB disks until a combination drive was introduced. The SQ2000 disk was introduced in 1994 and had a capacity of 200 MB.

The 5.25-inch generation of SyQuest disks were popular with Apple Macintosh owners, and used to transfer and backup large amounts of data by graphic artists, musicians and engineers.

By 1993, SyQuest had begun releasing smaller 3.5-inch form factor disks. These were popular, but because of the huge installed base of the SyQuest 5.25-inch drives, the 3.5-inch cartridges were not as successful as them.

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Iomega Zip U250 (2001 – 2003)

Zip U250 was a variant on the Iomega Zip disk, and was launched by Iomega in 2001. Like standard Zip disks, the U250 was a high-capacity floppy disk format.

The Zip U250 had a capacity of 250 MB and was fully compatible with the Zip 250 drive despite its different shape. Its launch followed the class-action lawsuit against Iomega for a type of fault in Zip drives dubbed the ‘click of death’.

The U250 disks contained titanium particles in the media to improve the operation of the drives, and were also self-cleaning. They came with a 10 year warranty, and were supplied in shatterproof cases.

Like the rest of the Zip range, sales declined due to the falling cost of CD-R and CD-RW disks, followed by USB flash drives, and the Zip range was discontinued in 2003.

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