From paper tape to data sticks: The evolution of removable storage

Over the years, people have tried to transfer information from one computer to another in a dizzying number of ways. Here's a look at some of the best, along with others that time forgot.

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The Great Floppy Experiments



Many companies tried their hand at alternative floppy formats in the 1980s. One such "floppy" (top center) wasn't a floppy at all: The ZX Microdrive cartridge (sometimes called a "stringy floppy") contained an endless loop of magnetic tape, similar to an eight-track cassette. Other experiments include Apple's FileWare (right), included with the first Apple Lisa (a device that Network World recently ranked among Apple's worst products ever); the 3-inch Compact Floppy (bottom left); and the rare 2-inch LT-1 floppy (top left), used only in 1989's Zenith Minisport laptop. Other efforts appeared in niche products, but none dominated like the 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch floppy formats.

Photos: Benj Edwards/Jamie Percival

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From paper tape to data sticks: The evolution of removable storage

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