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.

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

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The Floptical Disk



Insight Peripherals introduced the first "floptical" drive in 1992. It stored 21MB of data on a special 3.5-inch magnetic floppy disk (upper left). Unlike some alternative forms of storage, this promising format was backward-compatible with traditional 3.5-inch floppies. The key to the floptical drive's high capacity was its hybrid "floppy-optical" system, which combined traditional magnetic media with laser-based head tracking for more-precise writes, resulting in more tracks (and more storage) per disk. In the late 1990s, two new backward-compatible floptical formats--the Imation LS-120 SuperDisk (120MB, lower right) and the Sony HiFD (150MB, upper right)--debuted and were primed to compete with the Iomega Zip drive. In the end, though, all of them lost out to CD-R.

Photos: Yesterday's Technology/Benj Edwards/Sony/Imation

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

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