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Floppy Disk Drives
In the hard disk drive chapter, I refer to the hard disk as the "data center" of the PC, and in fact it is, but there was a time when the floppy disk actually held this honorific. In fact, the first PCs didn't have hard disks; all of their data storage was done on floppies. There was a time when floppy disk drives were high technology and cost serious money. I remember paying $700 for a floppy disk for my Apple II PC about 15 years ago... and being very excited about not having to use a cassette deck any more to load and save programs. Talk about high technology. :^)
The invention of hard disks relegated floppy disks to the secondary roles of data transfer and software installation. The invention of the CD-ROM and the Internet, combined with the increasingly large size of software files, is threatening even these secondary roles. The floppy disk still persists, basically unchanged for over a decade, in large part because of its universality; the 3.5 inch 1.44 MB floppy is present on virtually every PC made in the last 10 years, which makes it still a useful tool. The floppy disk's current role is in these area:
While floppy drives still have a useful role in the modern PC, there is no denying their reduced importance. Very little attention is paid to floppy "performance" any more, and even choosing makes or models involves a small fraction of the amount of care and attention required for selecting other components. In essence, the floppy drive today is a commodity item! For this reason, I examine the floppy drive in this chapter but do not go into a great level of detail. In addition, since many aspects of floppy disk construction and logical operation are similar to those of hard disks, and since I did describe hard disks in a great level of detail, I make frequent references back to relevant sections in the chapter on hard disks.