Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
The Zippy Quest for Jazzy Flash
Aaaah, removable media. Is it not the ultimate storage device? Fill up one unit, pop it out, and pop a new unit into the drive, then keep collecting more stuff. When I started computing in the early 1980s, 5.25″ floppy diskettes were still in use. They were originally 360K in capacity and with some mutilation could go up to 720K. High density version was available, too, with a whopping size of 1.2 MB!
Still the 5.25″ floppy couldn’t fight off the rising star of the time, the 3.5″ diskette, with a top size of 1.4 MB.
Soon 1.4 MB was not enough, and we saw the arrival of the Iomega Bernoulli and SyQuest cartridges. One regret I have about cleaning up my junk collection involves a 10 MB Bernoulli cartridge. It was the size of a college notebook! I threw it out when I moved years ago. I cannot remember the capacity of the Bernoulli media that was battling with the SyQuest. I know that SyQuest cartridges came in capacities of 44 MB, then 88 MB. Knowing that competing products usually outdo their competitor just slightly, I am sure it was probably somewhere around those numbers.
SyQuest EZ 135
Almost out of nowhere, Iomega upped the ante with the Zip drive, at 100 MB and in the 3.5″ form factor, and just a bit thicker than a floppy disk. It was wildly successful and rang the death knell for SyQuest. SyQuest did try to keep up with a 135 MB 3.5″ drive and media, but it was a case of being late to the market.
Iomega even had the 1 GB Jaz, later upgraded to 2 GB.
For my Wall Street PowerBook, I got an Imation SuperDisk with a capacity of 120 MB. Remember what I said about edging out the competition just a little? The SuperDisk drive could also read 3.5″ floppy disks, but again Imation was late to the booming removable hard drive scene and joined other companies as losers to Iomega.
The problem with removable hard drives is that you need the drives to use them. You need some other physical device that has to be hooked up to the computer in order to use the cartridge. I used to have to carry an Iomega USB drive back and forth between the office and home. Sometimes I would remember to bring everything; other times I would forget the power cable for the drive, or the USB cable for the device. Too much hassle!
Nowadays, the de facto removable media is the USB flash drive. About the size of the human thumb, you usually just plug them in and start using them. No need for any extra cables. Over the years, I have come to own a few such drives, such as a 2 GB Kingston then a 4 GB SanDisk. It seems not that long ago that I paid $50 for a 128 MB flash drive. These days you can buy a spindle of blank DVDs and get a 512 MB flash drive for free!
USB Flash Drives
Memory cards are somewhat like old removable media, in that you don’t use them directly like flash drives but you must have some kind of card readers. Their most popular use is probably in cameras, but they are also used in other electronic devices, such as cell phones (SIM card), the Wii console, and the Nintendo DS. My first memory card was an 8 MB SD card, used to hold still photos in my ancient camcorder. Later, I got a real digital camera and splurged on a 128 MB CompactFlash card. These days all my cameras use 2 GB SD cards. I also have uses for microSD cards but always have to use them with adapters because they are so small.
Money probably cannot buy you happiness, but it sure can get you lots of removable storage.
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive
Reader Comments (4)
Now I've just bought a pair of FireWire/USB/eSATA hotswap docks and four 1Tb SATA drives!
And the scary part is I've already filled three of them without really trying. Thinking hard about the latest 2Tb drives next... Just as well they only cost as much as a couple of boxes of 8" disks used to.
$2000 in 1986.
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