The Floptical Disk
Insight Peripherals introduced the first "floptical" drive in 1992. It stored 21MB of data on a special 3.5-inch magnetic floppy disk (upper left). Unlike some alternative forms of storage, this promising format was backward-compatible with traditional 3.5-inch floppies. The key to the floptical drive's high capacity was its hybrid "floppy-optical" system, which combined traditional magnetic media with laser-based head tracking for more-precise writes, resulting in more tracks (and more storage) per disk. In the late 1990s, two new backward-compatible floptical formats--the Imation LS-120 SuperDisk (120MB, lower right) and the Sony HiFD (150MB, upper right)--debuted and were primed to compete with the Iomega Zip drive. In the end, though, all of them lost out to CD-R.
Photos: Yesterday's Technology/Benj Edwards/Sony/Imation