Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 15.02
February 2009






Download ATPM 15.02

Choose a format:

Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Linus Ly,

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!


5.25″ Floppy

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.


3.5″ Floppy

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 88


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 Zip

Iomega even had the 1 GB Jaz, later upgraded to 2 GB.


Iomega Jaz

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.


Imation SuperDisk

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.


Memory Cards

Money probably cannot buy you happiness, but it sure can get you lots of removable storage.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (4)

Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · February 3, 2009 - 09:55 EST #1
LOL - I STILL have here in my office an old SyQuest drive and a ton of cartridges. Somehow, I can't bring myself to just throw them in the trash, but probably need to do so—unless someone has a good idea.
Fulvio Gerardi · March 17, 2009 - 01:35 EST #2
Been there, done that, except I go back to 8" floppies, mag tape, disk packs, paper tape and punched cards.

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.
Jesse the K · March 27, 2009 - 18:34 EST #3
I remember eagerly purchasing a 20 meg (that's right, megabyte, not gigabyte) hard drive for our Apple IIe. It was accessible via ProDOS and Beagle Bros' ProntoDOS (a DOS 3.3 improvement).

$2000 in 1986.
Angus Wong · August 20, 2009 - 20:15 EST #4
Forget computer media! I got a bunch of Video 8 tapes (and in PAL format no less!) that I got to figure how to digitize. Dang, I knew I should have worked harder to get them onto the Mac (and then onto one of the abovementioned snazzy magnetic products) back when I had my 6100 AV. Boy, this article and these comments really date us geezers! :-D

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article