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Floppy Disk Drive

A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles. They are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD).

Floppy disks, initially as 8-inch (200 mm) media and later in 5.25-inch (133 mm) and 3.5-inch (89 mm) sizes, were a ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange from the mid-1970s well into the first decade of the 21st century.

  • It is powered by a cable with a 4-pin connector that comes from the power supply.

  • It transfers data to and from the motherboard by means of a 34 pin ribbon cable.

  • It stores data magnetically on a removable floppy disk. A pickup arm in the drive floats above the disk surface. The arm moves rapidly back and forth across the disk surface as a small magnetic sensor at the end of the arm reads and writes data on the rotating disk surface.

  • Different sizes of floppy disks are fundamentally incompatible, and disks can fit only one size of drive. Drives with 3 12-inch and 5¼-inch slots were available during the transition period between the sizes, but they contained two separate drive mechanisms.

    The first floppy disk was 8 inches in diameter, and was protected by a flexible plastic jacket. IBM used this size as a way of loading microcode into mainframe processors, and the original 8 inch disk was not field-writeable. Rewriteable disks and drives became useful. Early microcomputers used for engineering, business, or word processing often used one or more 8 inch disk drives for removable storage; the CP/M operating system was developed for microcomputers with 8 inch drives.

    3 12-inch floppy disk were produced with a capacity of 720 KB, followed by what became the most common format, 1.44 MB. All disks had a rectangular hole which, if and only if obstructed, write-enabled the disk. 1.44 MB disks had another hole which identified them as being of that capacity.

    Floppy disk size is often referred to in inches, even in countries using metric and though the size is defined in metric. The ANSI specification of 3 12-inch disks is entitled in part "90 mm (3.5 in)" though 90 mm is closer to 3.54 inches. Formatted capacities are generally set in terms of kilobytes and megabytes.


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