I know most of you are old enough to remember 5 1/4″ floppy disks, but did you know they used to sell them in single packages? The Tandy Floppy Disk above is an example of how they were packaged.
Most commonly, blank disks were sold in packs of 10. They came in cardboard boxes, which could be used to store them. If you bought them in bulk. like I occasionally did, you could order them in 25, 50, or even 100 packs. Back then formatting a blank disk took a minute or two. So you could save money by purchasing them unformatted. However if you wanted to save a little time, but spend a little more, you could pony up for the formatted ones. If you were really crazy and desperate you could buy them without the paper sleeves. But a naked floppy is insanity and if my opinion, not worth saving.
Back before Radio Shack was your home for cellphones, batteries and remote controlled toys, they sold computers and computer accessories. Including blank disks. I found the Tandy Floppy Disk pictured above out in my garage. As you can see it is of a single floppy disk packed in plastic. A single serving size of floppy.
I really do no remember when I picked this up. But, I am imagining a scenario in which someone might need to buy a single floppy disk. Perhaps a businessman on his way to work might remember, “Oh! I forgot! I was supposed to bring a single blank disk to work today!” That lucky fellow could swing his Ford Pinto right into Radio Shack, pick up a Tandy-brand floppy disk, and be on his way in no time. I’m assuming a guy who could only afford to buy one floppy disk at a time might drive a Ford Pinto as well.
What did you need your single Tandy Floppy Disk for? Your Tandy computer, of course.
Enjoy this classic Tandy Computer Commercial
Thanks to the wonders of Google Books, I spent last night reading through a 1985 issue of Computerworld, the newsweekly for the computer community. Within its pages I came across this advert for Dysan, a company that has the most amazing slogan – Somebody has to be better than everybody else!
The modesty extended to their write-up of its 5.25 inch floppy diskettes which were, by all accounts, the best diskettes ever created. Backed by a life-time warranty and 100% error-free guarantee, they implored you to take the long view when making your purchasing decisions!
Should you still have some of these diskettes around, you might need some assistance in getting them cleaned up. Unsurprisingly, YouTube has a video for that, complete with a retro Robocop 3 C64 dance track as musical accompaniment!
With its built in floppy drive and a handle on the back of the case, the Apple IIc (released in the Summer of 1988) was the company’s attempt at a portable Apple II computer (the “c” stood for “compact”). “Compact” had a slightly different definition back in 1988. Today it means “fits in your pocket” — in 1988, it meant “fits in your trunk”.
Each Apple IIc came with a small white box containing these five floppy disks. Containing a series of tutorials and utilities, these disks were enough to get the average user something to do until they went down to the mall and bought a copy of Oregon Trail or Ultima …
There was a time when you could walk into any computer store (or even Walmart!) and pick up a box of ten floppy disks. In case you haven’t visited Walmart in a while, those days are long gone.
Whenever I run across boxes of 5.25″ (also known as 5 1/4″) floppy disks, I always snag them. These here are single-sided, single density — sometimes known as SS/SD, or 1S/2D. Each disk stores roughly 180k worth of data per side. With a disk notcher you could also write data to the back side of the diskette, effectively doubling your storage space. SS/SD disks were used on most pre-PC systems, including the Apple II and the Commodore 64. That’s what I use them on, anyway. Double Sided/Double Density disks could also be used on those older systems, although there is no increase of storage space for drives that can only access one side of the disk. The format most PC users are familiar with, double sided/high density (DS/HD) diskettes are the ones that stored 1.2 megabytes of data. These disks can not be reliably used on older single-sided disk drives, which is what makes SS/DD and DS/DD disks so valuable these days.
As 5 1/4″ diskettes were being phased out in favor of the (then) newer and smaller 3 1/2″ diskettes, it was not uncommon to see boxes of 10 floppies selling for $4-$5. (You could get disks in bulk for much less.) Ironically, $5/box for these 10 packs is now considered a decent deal, and 10 packs of floppies such as these often sell for $10 or more on eBay and other auction sites.
If you want to hear more stories about old floppy disks, check out this old episode of my podcast, titled (unsurprisingly) “Floppy Disks.”