The history of the floppy disk began in 1967 when the floppy disk drive was invented by Shugart at IBM. This first drive was for 8 inch floppy disks and was a read only drive. The first read only disk was introduced in 1971 by IBM and was eight inches in size. In 1972 the 8 inch read/write disk was developed. Different versions of the 8 inch disk format continued to be introduced until about 1977.
One year prior to that in 1976, the 5.25 inch floppy diskette was introduced. The use of the 8 inch format continued up until the late 1980s. It is difficult to find working eight inch drives nowadays and of course no new 8 inch floppy disks are being produced.
The history of the floppy diskette in the 5.25 inch format which began in 1976 involved the production of several varieties of this size. The last new five and a quarter diskette format came to the marketplace in 1986. Use of the 5.25 inch disk format continued into the late 1990s. Although new computers have not come with 5.25 inch floppy drives for a while now, some drives are still available in old working computers. Production of 5.25 inch floppies has ceased.
The 3.5 inch disk was introduced in 1982, with the last version being introduced in 1999. For a while in floppy diskette history, computers could be purchased with both 5.25 inch drives and 3.5 inch floppy drives. Nowadays, very few new computers come with 3.5 inch floppy diskette drives, although plenty of computers still exist with working drives. Some 3.5 inch foppy disk media is still being produced in 2010, but on a very limited basis.
Finally, the history of the floppy disk should include the Zip disk. This 100 MB format was introduced in 1994. Later the 250 MB format was introduced in 1998 and then in 2002 the 750 MB format. Because of the much higher capacity of the Zip disk, most believe it is not a floppy disk, but it actually has the same structure as regular floppies.
Regardless of the floppy disk format, the technology is old and has been superseded by newer, more cost effective, higher speed, and higher capacity formats. Any information stored on floppy diskettes should be copied as soon as possible to another storage medium, before the drives to read the disc disappear.
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