March 30, 2018

Floppy Disk History: The Evolution of Personal Computing

In the mid-70s I heard about floppy drives, but they were expensive, exotic equipment. I didn’t know that IBM had decided as early as 1967 that tape drives, while fine for backups, simply weren’t good enough to load software on mainframes. So it was that Alan Shugart assigned David L. Noble to lead the development of "a reliable and inexpensive system for loading microcode into IBM System/370 mainframes" using a process called Initial Control Program Load (ICPL). From this project came the first 8-inch floppy disk.

Oh, yes, before the 5.25-inch drives many of you remember was the 8-inch floppy. By 1978, I was using those on mainframes. Later I would use them on dedicated cataloging PCs at the Online Computer Library Center.

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