From Paper Tape to Data Sticks: The Evolution of Removable Storage

Over the years, people have tried to transfer information from one computer to another in a dizzying number of ways. Here's a look at some of the best, along with others that time forgot

The Floppy Diskette

IBM introduced the first commercial floppy drive in 1971. It worked with 8-inch flexible disks coated with a magnetic material and permanently encased in a plastic sheath.Users quickly recognized that, for loading data into computers, floppy disks were faster, cheaper, and more space-efficient than stacks of punch cards. In 1976, the floppy's co-inventor, Alan Shugart, created a new 5.25-inch floppy drive for personal computers. That disk size remained an industrywide standard until the latter half of 1980s, when Sony's 3.5-inch floppy format (invented in 1981) achieved marketplace dominance.

By 2002, though, people had begun to ask, "What has your floppy drive done for you lately?"

Photos: Benj Edwards

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