Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 16:16 UTC, submitted by google_ninja
Windows Remember, back in the day, before USB drives became common place, you had to use those weird square disks? We called them floppies, and they had about as much storage capacity as my current computer has in its power switch alone. One of the problems with floppy drives was that it was impossible to determine whether there was a floppy in the drive without actually spinning up the drive. Windows 95 almost had a feature that could detect whether or not there was a floppy in the drive without spinning it up.
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Of course, Amiga had that in 85
by spudley99 on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 16:33 UTC
spudley99
Member since:
2009-03-25

Yes, I know we're all well past the days when Amiga users gloated at Windows users, but Amigas did have this feature from day one -- ie 1985.

The downside was that Amiga floppy drives made random clicking noises every now and then, which was (as Microsoft's engineers rightly surmised in this story) rather annoying. But it was still a good feature.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Of course, Amiga had that in 85
by bibe on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 17:50 UTC in reply to "Of course, Amiga had that in 85"
bibe Member since:
2005-07-09

Yes I remember that's the first difference i noticed on Amiga 500 and Atari TT after a guy way asked to insert a new disk, I thought wow, that's a neat detail. Today after i close the CD-tray on my laptop it still takes Vista approx 9 sec to figure out there's nothing in there...ts ts ts ts :'(

Reply Score: 5

Gorgak Member since:
2007-05-30

There were utilities for the Amiga called "clickoff", "noclick" etc, which removed the clicking noise while leaving the disk detection feature intact. I never figured out how that was possible, or why Commodore didn't include it by default in later Amigas, or why it even clicked in the first place if that wasn't necessary. ;)

Reply Score: 3

Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Wasn't a noclick Extension shipped with Workbench 2.0?

Reply Score: 2

No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

It was also related to the "feature" of the Amigas, at the time, that they had an even worse virus problem than DOS/Windows.

Reply Score: 1

Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

Yes, I know we're all well past the days when Amiga users gloated at Windows users, but Amigas did have this feature from day one -- ie 1985.

The downside was that Amiga floppy drives made random clicking noises every now and then, which was (as Microsoft's engineers rightly surmised in this story) rather annoying. But it was still a good feature.


you obviously didnt have that lovely program in your startup-sequence, which made the click almost inaudible, while still working ;) quite nice...

Reply Score: 2

JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

you obviously didnt have that lovely program in your startup-sequence, which made the click almost inaudible, while still working ;) quite nice...


Or just drag the icon into the WBStartup drawer. Much easier for the average person than editing the startup-sequence or user-startup.

Reply Score: 2

Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

"you obviously didnt have that lovely program in your startup-sequence, which made the click almost inaudible, while still working ;) quite nice...


Or just drag the icon into the WBStartup drawer. Much easier for the average person than editing the startup-sequence or user-startup.
"
you are forgetting that back then, people were not a bunch of sheeple that literally got scared when there wasnt a big blue ugly 'e' icon on their desktop, and didnt have artificial issues doing easy stuff..

also, the program i had for that, required some commandline parameters...

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Well, back then computers weren't nearly such a household item as they are now. Those who owned them usually had either the know-how or the willingness to learn how to operate them, and there wasn't a pre-conceived notion of how every computer should behave.

Reply Score: 3

Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

Well, back then computers weren't nearly such a household item as they are now. Those who owned them usually had either the know-how or the willingness to learn how to operate them, and there wasn't a pre-conceived notion of how every computer should behave.

lots of "normal" computer users existed, the same in the DOS age, the difference is that people have become weeping children to the point of mental disorder - its kindof like being afraid of elevators.

Reply Score: 2

nywles Member since:
2009-01-16

Actually it was possible on the PC as well, well before Windows 95 ever came out: VGACopy/386 did it reliably when you needed to change disks.

Reply Score: 1

What about today?
by tyrel on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 16:48 UTC
tyrel
Member since:
2009-04-03

Are there still those two different types of floppy drives today, or did one "win out" and this mechanism would now work without having to detect which type of drive it was? Not that floppy drives are used much anymore.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What about today?
by darknexus on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 17:43 UTC in reply to "What about today?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Good question. Mac OS X, for example, is still able to tell when I insert a floppy into my USB floppy drive (it's not an Apple branded drive either, so they didn't have control over its hardware). It does this without spinning up or grinding the drive at all, so perhaps eventually one of these did become standard. Either that, or Apple found another way to probe the drive that works on all of them, perhaps. I'm not sure.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: What about today?
by Ford Prefect on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 20:29 UTC in reply to "RE: What about today?"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

It's part of USB floppy standard and has nothing to do with old/regular floppy drives.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: What about today?
by darknexus on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 21:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What about today?"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

NOt with this particular drive it isn't. I know what you're refering to, that the USB floppy drive will alert the computer to new media, similar to an external card reader. This particular drive doesn't work like that though, it has no internal media detection. I've used a USB sniffer on it, and no signal is sent across the USB connection when media is inserted or removed. OS X is the only os that is able to automount with this drive at all.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What about today?
by AbuHassan on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 18:00 UTC in reply to "What about today?"
AbuHassan Member since:
2008-08-26

I think it was more to do with the drive controller than the drive itself.

Hence the Catweasel.

http://www.jschoenfeld.com/products/cwmk3_e.htm

Reply Score: 3

RE: What about today?
by 7valleys on Wed 8th Apr 2009 19:01 UTC in reply to "What about today?"
7valleys Member since:
2008-09-22

Mate, it's 2009, there are no more floppy drives. The floppy drive lost out to pen drives. Even on the best floppy you can't fit one MP3 or a single photograph, let alone a video clip or program. They we slow, cantankerous and held virtually no data. Do not morn their demise.

Reply Score: 1

I don't recall...
by whartung on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 16:50 UTC
whartung
Member since:
2005-07-06

But did the Mac have to spin up the drive to discover this?

Reply Score: 2

RE: I don't recall...
by google_ninja on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 17:21 UTC in reply to "I don't recall..."
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Apple had control over their hardware, so it was a non issue

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I don't recall...
by darknexus on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 17:39 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't recall..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Plus, a good number of Apple's 3.5 drives operated a bit differently than those on the PC (weren't the disks formatted differently too, 800K instead of 720K for a while?) At any rate, most of Apple's 3.5 drives didn't grind even when you tried to access them with no disk. I can't really describe the sound they made, it was a good deal quieter than most PC drives. They were that way from the Apple IIgs 3.5 drives all the way up through a good number of Macintoshes, I'm not sure exactly when they went to standard 1.44 drives and when the situation changed. Even once Apple started using more pc-sounding, for lack of a better description, drives I don't remember them grinding except when the computer was turned on, and only for a second. Either Apple always knew what result the command would generate (very likely) or they used the probe for a boot floppy also as a test for the return value of the command.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: I don't recall...
by AbuHassan on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 18:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't recall..."
AbuHassan Member since:
2008-08-26

Amiga's could store 880KB on a DSDD disk and 1.76MB on a DSHD disk if you had a HD drive.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: I don't recall...
by sagum on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 19:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I don't recall..."
sagum Member since:
2006-01-23

720Kb floppy disk, and 1.44mb floppy disk.

PCs can, and have been able to read teh 1.72MB format on a standard 1.44MB disk for a long time; at least from DOS6.x.

The only limitation is the way PCs uses FAT16 to write the allowcation table to the disk. You'd be limtied to 20 root files or folders on a 1.44MB disk formatted to 1.72MB, for most people this just wouldn't work.

However, creating folders allowed you to place as many files on the disk in those folders as you pleased.
Not very practical when you're dealing with non-techy people though.

If anyone is interesting with playing around with a 1.72MB disk, grab a copy of winimage. IIRC that has the options to format as such; thats if you even have a floppy drive or disks anymore. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: I don't recall...
by darknexus on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 21:36 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: I don't recall..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

If anyone is interesting with playing around with a 1.72MB disk, grab a copy of winimage. IIRC that has the options to format as such; thats if you even have a floppy drive or disks anymore. ;)

Alternatively, for those using Linux, you can issue this command for an internal floppy drive:
fdformat /dev/fd0u1722
That'll give you the 1.722mb formatted floppy, after that pick whatever fs you want to put on it and use the appropriate mkfs command. There are other sizes you can play with too if you're board such as 1.7, 1.6, and even older formats.
I don't know of a way to do this with external USB floppy drives, however, as this ability depends on using the Linux floppy driver, which most USB floppy drives do not (they're USB mass storage devices, so use the scsi interface).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: I don't recall...
by bousozoku on Sat 4th Apr 2009 01:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't recall..."
bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

Plus, a good number of Apple's 3.5 drives operated a bit differently than those on the PC (weren't the disks formatted differently too, 800K instead of 720K for a while?)
...


Apple used something called Group Coded Recording which also required slowing the drive to keep a constant velocity, similar to the way laserdiscs did. There was a product, Spectre, for the Atari ST that used Mac 512 KB ROMs to allow the Atari ST machine to run Macintosh applications. A later version, Spectre GCR, allowed reading directly from Macintosh 3.5 inch diskettes by taking more control of the typical Atari ST drive.

Reply Score: 3

RE: I don't recall...
by Doc Pain on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 19:29 UTC in reply to "I don't recall..."
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I can remember I had a Sun SparcStation 20 and an Ultra 1, both with CD-ROM and floppy. The floppy drive didn't have an eject button (as the newer Apple ones, I still have an MacIntosh IIgs with this configuration) and I think it was ejected by software. Did Solaris (must have been version 7 or 8) have the detection feature? I can't remember, help me! :-)

Reply Score: 3

No Click
by Earl Colby pottinger on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 16:59 UTC
Earl Colby pottinger
Member since:
2005-07-06

Not only was there a software fix that removed the click, I seem to remember that some drives that came out later did not click at all.

The drive that detected floppies on the Amiga had an extra switch that did the detecting, it is just that since the rest of the drive was standard hardware when the drive was polled it tried to startup as well.

It was also possible to use standard drives that did not have the extra sensor and thus did not click, but if you changed disks or first inserted one you had to send some command to get AmigaDos to read the disk root directory first.

My solution, a stack of three PC drives mounted together, at boot AmigaDos read they all and they contained all the key files that I never wanted off-line. The internal drive was for situations where I needed to swap disks.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27
Member since:
2005-07-24

So we had 8 inch floppies. I just caught the tail end of that. We laughed at them, back in the day, because everyone knew that those things were ridiculously large. Proper floppies were 5.25 inches on a side, and much more civilized. (BTW, you've never heard a floppy drive *really* grind unless you've had an Apple ][.)

But that was just the normal evolution of the technology. What's really weird was the barrier we hit with 1.44MB "crunchies". That's as far as the standardization ever got. We had 2.88MB floppies. But how many of us ever had one? Before the 2.88MB floppies came out, I heard tell of floppies that were supposed to store an amazing 20MB. I think those were what ended up being called Zip Drives. But they were never standard. And then there was LS120.

And then we had CDs. But you couldn't write to them. And when you finally *could* write to them, the method was so kludgy as to make floppies seem like a futuristic technology. And by the time there was a method of writing that allowed us to pretend that we really could just write to them on the fly, their capacities had already become ludicrously small in comparison to what we needed to be able to write. (0.7GB? Come on!)

But what happened? How did portable storage get so derailed for so many years, until USB came along? How come we went for so many years without a standard?

Reply Score: 5

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

(BTW, you've never heard a floppy drive *really* grind unless you've had an Apple ][.)

Here, here. Apple IIe 5.25 drives, anyone?

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Here, here. Apple IIe 5.25 drives, anyone?

Given the choice, I think I'd rather stick my finger into my current food processor than into one of those old external Disk ][ drives. ;-)

Edited 2009-04-03 17:37 UTC

Reply Score: 5

siraf72 Member since:
2006-02-22

On that note, I remember my Apple IIe used to deliver a nice zinging electrical shock if you missed the power switch on the back and made contact with one of the screws instead. Oh the happy memories...

Reply Score: 1

AbuHassan Member since:
2008-08-26

(BTW, you've never heard a floppy drive *really* grind unless you've had an Apple ][.)


You should hear my CBM 1541-C, my lawn mower is quieter! LOL

Reply Score: 2

bibe Member since:
2005-07-09

Yes well the floppy was the only reliable standard for the longest time, it was enough for small text documents. CD-RW was never relly good, and CD-R and DVD-R are just so damn fragile and too big. USB-Stick is the real new floppy but now that i have a 16GB one it's hard to think of a proper file system to use (max portability Win/OSx/Linux, no 4GB file limit...)

Reply Score: 3

looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

You may just need to use FAT32.

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Oh yeah, sure, until Microsoft decides to sue you forusing it. Fat32 is more of a problem on some oses than others. OS X, for example refuses to read fat32 partitions over 127gb. Windows won't format them beyond 32gb without some fiddling. Most of the other UNIX-like oses don't have any trouble with it, but still...
No, it's time for it to die and be replaced.

Reply Score: 2

lubod Member since:
2009-02-02

Small clarification of the timeline:

The 20Mb floppies were manufactured by Iomega, but they were not Zip drives, those were 100 (and later 250 and even 750, then CD-RW killed them). Also they had a 1Gb disk, called a Jazz.

No the 20Mb ones were called floptical (a combination of floppy and optical).

The drives themselves read both floptical disks and 1.44 floppies, and came in 3 varieties (that I know of, maybe more).

External, with both SCSI port (for Macs) and parallel port (for PC).
Internal, same form factor as a floppy (3.5 inch one third height IIRC) built into certain SGI workstations.

Reply Score: 2

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

The 20Mb floppies were manufactured by Iomega, but they were not Zip drives, those were 100 (and later 250 and even 750, then CD-RW killed them).


I have a different 20MB disk in my hands at this moment - I'm typing this with my nose. :-)

The disk is labelled "Bernoulli 20" and "For Bernoulli product assistance call 1-800-456-5522", as well as "Bernoulli gold standard limited warranty five years". It's a real magnetic floppy.

Those who know hard disks are familiar with what we all "Bernoulli effect", and a few of you might know its inventor, Bernard Bernoulli. :-)

The disk is the size of a 40MB SyQuest exchangable hard disk (works like a disk pack, 1 physical cylinder, is 5,25" as the Bernoulli disk and has been used in PCs and Atari ST).

Of course, I own the drive needed to use this media, and at least it spins up. It sounds like an old hard disk that has been held alive after the end of its natural life span.

And as we're talking strange floppies at the moment, does anyone remember the Schneider Joyce? I have one of those disks, they're floppies as well and called CF2. They're quite small (3/4 of the width of a 3,5" disk, same height) and can be used both-sided (side A and B). They also have a metal protector covering the disk.

Also they had a 1Gb disk, called a Jazz.


If I remember corretly, this was even more toyish than the Zip disks. The jaz disks are simple disk packs with two physical cylinders, and I think they were available as a 2GB version, too.

Reply Score: 2

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

"The 20Mb floppies were manufactured by Iomega, but they were not Zip drives, those were 100 (and later 250 and even 750, then CD-RW killed them).


I have a different 20MB disk in my hands at this moment - I'm typing this with my nose. :-)

The disk is labelled "Bernoulli 20" and "For Bernoulli product assistance call 1-800-456-5522", as well as "Bernoulli gold standard limited warranty five years". It's a real magnetic floppy.

Those who know hard disks are familiar with what we all "Bernoulli effect", and a few of you might know its inventor, Bernard Bernoulli. :-)

The disk is the size of a 40MB SyQuest exchangable hard disk (works like a disk pack, 1 physical cylinder, is 5,25" as the Bernoulli disk and has been used in PCs and Atari ST).

Of course, I own the drive needed to use this media, and at least it spins up. It sounds like an old hard disk that has been held alive after the end of its natural life span.
...
If I remember corretly, this was even more toyish than the Zip disks. The jaz disks are simple disk packs with two physical cylinders, and I think they were available as a 2GB version, too.
"

IOmega sold a lot of Bernoulli boxes, but SyQuest had the desktop publishing market with the 44 MB (and later, 88 MB) drives. Many designers would put their projects on the SyQuest drives and send them to the printing house, as they were too large to be delivered otherwise.

Jaz had 2 GB versions and SyQuest had the SyJet 1.5 GB drive. I have a SyJet in the drawer.

I seem to remember a 3 way comparison for the Hitachi 3 inch, Dysan 3.25 inch, and Sony 3.5 inch floppy drives. At that time, the Sony floppy had to have its cover manually opened and closed, where the Hitachi floppy did not. The Dysan floppy was just like a 5.25 inch, without a rigid case.

I also seem to remember another in Japan, the QuickDisk or QD. It was big during the MSX period.

Reply Score: 2

Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

BBC Micro 80 sector 5.25" discs is where it was at.

Reply Score: 2

lopisaur Member since:
2006-02-27

Actually, the 20MB floppy you were referring to was the 'Floptical' disk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floptical). There also were 2.88MB disks, the LS-120, Sony HiFD and an obscure format called the UHD144, amongst others.
In the end, none of them replaced the floppy drive, even though iomega sold tens of millions of Zip drives, many of which had the 'click of death' syndrome.

Reply Score: 1

Am I missing something here...?
by earksiinni on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 17:06 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

It's very easy to tell if a floppy is in a floppy drive. Just look and see if the eject button is sticking out. Even if that were difficult to read, you can see the edge of the floppy when it's in the drive.

It's unfortunate that we don't use the 3.5" floppy format anymore, it's an example of excellent industrial design. USB 2.0 bus Jaz drive compatible internal LS120, anyone?

Reply Score: 1

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

the media itself was pretty sucky though. I remember jumping on CD-RW drives as soon as I could afford them due to how much I hated floppies and their failure rate, as opposed to DVD-RW drives which I waited until I bought a new computer and it came standard.

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

It's very easy to tell if a floppy is in a floppy drive. Just look and see if the eject button is sticking out.

Except on Apple Macintoshes, of course, where there was no eject button.
Even if that were difficult to read, you can see the edge of the floppy when it's in the drive.

And how would that have helped software detect when a floppy was inserted?
It's unfortunate that we don't use the 3.5" floppy format anymore, it's an example of excellent industrial design. USB 2.0 bus Jaz drive compatible internal LS120, anyone?

You're joking, right? 3.5 floppies, a good industrial design? When the disks had an amazing tendency to develop bad sectors and other data corruption when you needed them most? The way dust could get to them through the casing and cause disks to become unreadable until they were cleaned off? The way ls/120 (aka superdisk) media could become physically damaged if you so much as moved it the right way?
Now, zip disks were another story altogether, those things were much more durable than either the standard floppy or ls/120. As much as I did like the zip disk, it was only natural for flash to phase it out.

Reply Score: 4

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Except on Apple Macintoshes, of course, where there was no eject button.


And on Sun SparcStations and the Ultra 1, none, too. Eject was performed via software.

You're joking, right? 3.5 floppies, a good industrial design?


Just speaking about the form factor (and nothing else), I would tend to agree. We had a transition 8" -> 5,25" -> 3,5" for diskettes, but then -> 5,25" again for CDs and DVDs. (I'm not introducing Laser Discs here.)

If I could make a wish, I would like to see the form factor of a MiniDisc (MD) - anyone still knows? - with the capacity of a DVD (or more, because that would be possible today). Their case would be protective, you wouldn't need to handle discs like raw eggs. The drive to read and write them would only be the size of a 3,5" diskette drive, no need for a drive the size of a full featured computer (put a standard ATAPI DVD drive next to a Mac Mini to see what I'm talking about). That would be great.

When the disks had an amazing tendency to develop bad sectors and other data corruption when you needed them most?


This tendency has increased the newer the diskettes were. Those you can buy today are usually "use once, crunsh then" products. The slider, initially made of metal, is plastics now. I have diskettes older than 10 years which perform perfectly, but I don't expect this from today's diskettes.

The way dust could get to them through the casing and cause disks to become unreadable until they were cleaned off?


And all the nice "coffee rings" on today's DVDs... :-)

Now, zip disks were another story altogether, those things were much more durable than either the standard floppy or ls/120. As much as I did like the zip disk, it was only natural for flash to phase it out.


If I remember correctly, Zip disks could transmit a "hardware virus". If a drive was malignly adjusted, it could damage the disk used in this drive, even if it was fresh from factory. Then, this defective disk would re-adjust the next (properly working drive) it was put into and make it unusable. I hope this isn't just an urban legend. :-)

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Didn't Sony introduce a Minidisc type storage for data? I think it was called HighMD or something like that, can't remember off the top of my head. Never really caught on though, and didn't hold anywhere near as much as a DVD.
My bet is on SD cards to become the next floppy, they're much smaller than a Minidisc and can hold way more than a DVD depending on which capacity you get. This is basically already happening, look at all the laptops and netbooks that have sd card readers, and how many portable devices use them. Of course, you end up with the same problem you'd have on all flash media, there's no universal filesystem that has no annoying limitations. Fat32 is pretty universal, but it has the 4gb file size limit and various operating systems impose media capacity limitations on fat32 filesystems. UDF would work, but it hasn't really caught on in this area.

Reply Score: 2

Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

If I could make a wish, I would like to see the form factor of a MiniDisc (MD) - anyone still knows? - with the capacity of a DVD (or more, because that would be possible today). Their case would be protective, you wouldn't need to handle discs like raw eggs. The drive to read and write them would only be the size of a 3,5" diskette drive, no need for a drive the size of a full featured computer (put a standard ATAPI DVD drive next to a Mac Mini to see what I'm talking about). That would be great.


Why? I can't see how that would be an improvement over the 4Gb flash drive I have tucked in a pocket now - it's small, cheap, robust, and as reliable as I could ever want. And utterly portable, working flawlessly on any machine without requiring unusual hardware. What would be the benefit in your suggestion?

Reply Score: 1

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

I think you misunderstood my comment. This is completely possible, because English is not my native language. So I may express a bit more clear:

Why? I can't see how [the MiniDisc] would be an improvement over the 4Gb flash drive I have tucked in a pocket now - it's small, cheap, robust, and as reliable as I could ever want. And utterly portable, working flawlessly on any machine without requiring unusual hardware. What would be the benefit in your suggestion?


I didn't compare the MD to flash drives, I did compare it to CDs and DVDs (and the successor of DVDs, BluRay and HD-DVD), which are still the same size - see the history 8" -> 5,25" -> 3,5" -> 5,25".

Flash drives are a completely different category. As you mentioned correctly, they are completely fine, but movies and music aren't published on flash drives. :-) I said that I would have welcomed a development where DVDs and the successors would be 3,5" form factor again, with smaller drives, instead of 5,25" form factor with a drive the size of a full-featured computer.

In opposite to CDs and DVDs, flash drives have the downside that there's no common or standardized file format for them at the moment.

But I agree, they seem to be today's floppies.

Reply Score: 2

reflect Member since:
2007-07-10

This isn't about what you as a person can determine by looking at the drive. Did you read the article? It's about mechanically, and with software, determining wether there is a floppy in the drive, for sure.. or not.

Since there was two formats of doing this on the PC, the whole thing was abandoned.. while on Amiga and other platforms, this was automated, mostly beacuse of better specifications I guess. It was in the specs from day one - "this is how things are" and you as a vendor had to get into line.

Edit, minor clarification.

Edited 2009-04-03 18:28 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

It's unfortunate that we don't use the 3.5" floppy format anymore...

You can if you want to. ;)

I included a floppy drive in my latest computer build, primarily for booting small OSes and creating boot disks for older computers. Since a floppy drive only adds ~$5 to the computer cost, why not?

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

All my SD standard chips have that nifty floppy shape to them. ;)

(actually, I honestly do like that they use the old floppy shape, now if I could get a 120 gig SD for a reasonable price. my 8gig just isn't going to make a 34 gig rainbow table portable.)

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

It's unfortunate that we don't use the 3.5" floppy format anymore


I've found that many support techs still use them. There's three diskettes I keep in my bag, along with a USB floppy drive: one with Ghost, one with a hardware/burn-in diagnostic tool, and one with DOS USB & UDMA drivers (useful for ghost'ing to an external USB drive).

I use them less and less, in favour of bootable CDs with the same software, but I still run into the occasional PC that won't boot from CD or flash (usually thanks to a half-assed OEM BIOS). But I've never encountered a PC that can't boot from a floppy drive.

Edited 2009-04-03 19:36 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

But I've never encountered a PC that can't boot from a floppy drive.

More common now, computers that don't have floppy drives at all. Not only are the drives absent, but many/most cheap small cases don't have slots for 'upgrading' either.

A bigger issue in the future, the lack of floppy connectors on motherboards.

Reply Score: 2

KrustyVader Member since:
2006-10-28

That's may be true, but most of the new motherboard remove one ATA drive connector and still have the floppy.

Reply Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

More common now, computers that don't have floppy drives at all. Not only are the drives absent, but many/most cheap small cases don't have slots for 'upgrading' either.


True, but what I meant was that even computers that don't include a floppy drive can still boot from one, since the motherboard usually still has the plug for connecting a floppy drive.

(Though, as you mentioned, motherboards are finally starting to exclude floppy support)

Reply Score: 2

Why not test it?
by intastella on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 19:01 UTC
intastella
Member since:
2009-04-03

When you install or boot up for the first time, why not not just test it as part of the "Checking Hardware" sequence? Do it once and forget it. Even if you have to ask the user to put a disk in, just get it over with. Who cares if the drive grinds a little?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why not test it?
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 19:42 UTC in reply to "Why not test it?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Took the words right out of my mouth. It's been a good 6 or 7 years since I last installed a copy of Win9x, but I seem to remember that it would churn the diskette drive a few times during the hardware detection process anyway.

For that matter, I remember using Win9x PCs where the floppy drive would start chugging away for no apparent reason even when the drive was empty.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Why not test it?
by nonesuch on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 22:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Why not test it?"
nonesuch Member since:
2007-11-13

For that matter, I remember using Win9x PCs where the floppy drive would start chugging away for no apparent reason even when the drive was empty.


Generally a virus, trying to propagate itself via floppy disk. Some even installed a boot sector virus on a floppy, because who hasn't forgotten and left their floppy disk in while booting at least once? Remember "Operating system not found"?

Reply Score: 1

NeXTSTEP
by Dave_K on Fri 3rd Apr 2009 22:27 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

I seem to remember NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP for Intel regularly accessing the floppy drive to autodetect floppies.

Reply Score: 2

Divided by a common standard...
by Almafeta on Sat 4th Apr 2009 00:29 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

I had wondered why it always had to spin up just on insertion. I suppose this is part of why.

Reply Score: 2

phoenix
Member since:
2005-07-11

This is something that I never understood. All the way back to the 360 KB 5.25" floppy diskette (disks are inside the computer, not portable, diskette were portable), you had a friggin' hardware knob that you couldn't turn unless a diskette was in the drive. How hard would it have been to enable an interrupt on that knob to initiate a "scan diskette" operation? Even with the move to 3.5" diskettes, you still had to physically insert the diskette until it clicked. How hard could it have been to enable a "if this piece of hardware clicks, then scan the diskette" interrupt?

It boggles the mind that something so simple took until the advent of the CD-ROM (when the drive closes, scan the drive). [shakes head in wonder]

Reply Score: 3

Disk Detection 101
by JLF65 on Sat 4th Apr 2009 09:36 UTC
JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

Okay, for all those not conversant on floppy hardware, here's the 411. 3.5" Floppies have ALWAYS been able to detect disk insertions and removals from day one. While a disk is inserted, you can tell if it is removed by merely checking the change line. Nothing other than selecting the proper drive is needed. This works on any drive on any disk controller. Where it gets fun is looking for disk insertion.

While a disk is not present, checking for a disk inserted requires stepping the heads. That's what makes the click on the Amiga when you don't use NoClick. This works on PCs too!! FUSION PC did this same trick on the PC to detect disk insertion automatically (one of the VERY few PC apps STILL to have automatic disk detection). So DOS/Windows/Whatever could have had disk insertion detection LONG ago... at least for 3.5" drives.

How does NoClick work? As said before, you have to step the heads to detect a disk insertion. On the Amiga, the OS would step the heads in until it reached track zero. At that point it would toggle between stepping out to track one, then stepping in to track zero. Why do that? If you continue to step in once you reach track zero, you slam the head against the head stop. That would eventually cause the head to come out of alignment. Around the late 80s, floppy makers started putting a "safety" feature into 3.5" floppies so that if you were on track zero and tried to step in, the drive would still latch the disk change, but refuse to step the heads. At that point, Amiga realized that simply stepping in at track zero would allow them to check for disk insert without the click. This relied on the NEW drive, which not all machines had, so it was optional. If you had the new drive, you activated NoClick for your system.

On a PC, you could do NoClick on a few disk controllers, but not all. Why? Because most controllers realized that stepping in from track zero could damage the heads, so they refused to issue a step to the drive when at track zero. This means that you cannot do NoClick on most PCs. ;) You can still detect disk insertions without a click in another way: the Atari ST used a "standard" PC disk controller and suffered from this same NoClick problem. So they started checking the disk write protect line frequently. As you inserted the disk, you would very briefly cause the write protect line to change. The ST would then step the heads to verify a disk was really inserted. You could do the same thing on the PC... not that I'm aware of any OS that actually does this.

Reply Score: 4