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When Floppy's Ruled The World

The floppy disk reminds us of times when things were a lot simpler. However, things were anything but easy back in the back. The 3.5’ floppy diskette was a form of storage media that could store electronic data such as computer documents. IBM created the floppy diskette back in 1967 to act as an alternative to hard drives as they used to be very expensive during that period.

When it comes to floppy diskettes, the 3.5’ floppy disk was the most popular option. It could store up to 1.44 MB worth of data. There was a floppy drive where the floppy disk had to be inserted to read and write it. Communication, marketing, web design, and graphic design depended on its capabilities.


Early computers did not come with a USB port or CD-Rom drive. This is why floppy disks were used. They help save data. Programs that were under 1.44 MB could be easily saved on the floppy disk. However, multiple floppy diskettes were needed by most programs.

Explain the technology when/why it was popular in its heyday, why it is obsolete now and what technology has replaced it. For instance, when Windows 95 first came out, its diskette version required about 13 DMF diskettes to be installed. A disk had to be entered each time for the installation to be complete.

Users relied on floppy disks for storing and backing up files. Word processing files were copied to the floppy disk. Then, those files could be opened on another computer by inserting the floppy disk in another computer.

To better understand the technology behind the floppy disk, it is important that you understand how it stored data. The floppy disk was a magnetic media. It stored and read data with the help of a read head. Once you insert the 3.5’ floppy disk into the drive, the metal slide door would open. It would expose the magnetic disk of the floppy disk and the read head would utilize a magnetic polarity of about zero or one. The computer would read the disk through binary data. It would allow the computer to write the data onto a platter and use the magnetic polarities for aligning and writing the zeroes and ones.


The first floppy disk was 8 inches and it was introduced back in 1971. It had a magnetic coating and offered the capacity of up to 1 MB. The head of the disk touched to allow the media to be read just like a video player or cassette. Then, the 5.25’ floppy disk was made available in 1975. After this, the 3.5’ floppy disk was finally introduced in 1984. It was only during the 90s that the 1.44 MB floppy disk was widely available.

Are Floppy Disks Still Used Today?

Although 3.5 floppy disks are still available in many office supply chain stories today, their popularity greatly decreased in the 2000's in favor of CDs and DVDs whose capacity was upwards of 7,000 times more than that of the floppy. Though reports show that some Boeing 747 airplanes still run on floppy disks (1), modern consumers flock to thumb drives and cloud storage for their archival needs.

1 "Yes, Some Boeing 747s Still Runon Floppy Disks", Caroline Delbert. Popular Machanic.


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