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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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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Castlewood Orb (1998 – 2004)

The Castlewood Orb was a removable rigid-disk drive introduced by Castlewood Systems in 1998.

The first version had a capacity of 2.2 GB, but in 2001 a version with 5.7 GB was released (the 5.7 GB drive could read the older 2.2 GB disks). Disks came formatted for either Macintosh or IBM compatibles, and drives were available in external and internal versions.

Castlewood Systems was formed by several former employees of SyQuest Technologies. Shortly after the Orb was released, SyQuest brought a lawsuit against Castlewood for misappropriation of trade secrets and Iomega later brought another lawsuit against Castlewood for patent infringement.

The Orb disk competed with the Iomega Jaz, but internally the two products differed. The Jaz cartridge used two internal disks, while the Orb used a single disk, allowing for lower costs.

Castlewood Systems ceased operations around 2004.

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SyQuest EZ135 (1995-1996)

EZ135 was a removable hard disk cartridge introduced by SyQuest in 1995.

The EZ135 had a capacity of 135 MB, and was marketed as a competitor to the Zip disk, with a higher capacity and speed.

The drive was not backward-compatible with prior SyQuest products, and it was superseded by the EZFlyer with a capacity of 230 MB just a year later.

SyQuest 3.5-inch (105/270MB) (1993 – 1998)

The SyQuest 105MB cartridge (SQ310) was introduced in Spring 1993, and was a removable rigid-disc data storage format with a 3.5-inch form factor. Later in the year, a 270 MB version (SQ270) was introduced.

Neither were compatible with previous SyQuest disc formats, nor with the 3.5-inch EZ135 and EZFlyer that followed them. The 270 MB drives can read and write to the 105 MB cartridges.

SyQuest disc were popular in the graphics arts and printing industries with more than a million units sold by 1994, but because of the huge installed base of the SyQuest 5.25-inch drives, the 3.5-inch cartridge formats were not as successful.

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SyQuest SyJet (1996 – 1998)

SyJet (SQ1500) was a removable rigid disk format aimed at home users, and introduced by SyQuest in 1996.

It had a capacity of 1.5 GB, and competed with the Iomega Jaz.

The SyJet was a successor to SyQuest’s 3.5-inch rigid disk formats, but was not compatible with them or with SparQ drives.

Warranty and image issues caused by SparQ and SyJet disks were a major factor in SyQuest’s bankrupcy in 1998.

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SyQuest EZFlyer (1996 – 1998)

EZFlyer was a rigid-disk data storage format introduced by SyQuest in 1996, replacing the EZ135 disk.

The 3.5-inch cartridges were supplied ready formatted for PC or MAC.

It offered capacity of 230 MB, almost twice that of the EZ135, but could also read and write to EZ135 disks.

SyQuest filed for bankruptcy in 1998.

Iomega Rev (2004 – 2010)

Rev was a removable hard disk data storage system, introduced by Iomega in 2004.

The small cartridges stored 35, 70, or 120 GB uncompressed (much more could be stored compressed) and were based on hard-drive technology with the cartridges containing the platter, spindle, and motor, while the drive heads and drive controller were contained within the drive. The drives themselves were available as internal or external models, or as a server model with a cartridge autoloader.

The drives suffered from poor reliability and high failure rates of both the disk mechanism and external power supply units. Faced with cheaper, smaller, higher capacity and more reliable USB 2.5-inch portable hard drives, Rev was discontinued in 2010.

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SyQuest SparQ (1997 – 1998)

The SparQ disk was a removable hard-disk format introduced by SyQuest in 1997, with a capacity of 1 GB.

At the time of launch, their price relative to Zip disks made them attractive. However, the drives had serious quality issues, and damaged disks could damage drives, which would then damage subsequent disks placed in them.

Warranty and image issues caused by SparQ and SyJet disks were a major factor in SyQuest’s bankrupcy in 1998.

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