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. Floppy disks are read and written by a floppy disk drive (FDD).Floppy disks, initially as 8-inch (200 mm) media and later in 5¼-inch (133 mm) and 3½-inch (90 mm) sizes, were a ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange from the mid-1970s well into the 2000s.
By 2010, computer motherboards were rarely manufactured with floppy drive support; 3½-inch floppy disks can be used with an external USB floppy disk drive, but USB drives for 5¼-inch, 8-inch and non-standard diskettes are rare or non-existent, and those formats must usually be handled by old equipment.
While floppy disk drives still have some limited uses, especially with legacy industrial computer equipment, they have been superseded by data storage methods with much greater capacity, such as USB flash drives, portable external hard disk drives, optical discs, memory cards and computer networks.
History of Floppy Disk
In the late ’60s, with unwieldy punched cards and magnetic tape still the de facto standard for loading data into a computer, IBM set about inventing a portable, cheap-to-produce, and reliable storage medium — and thus the floppy disk was born. The first floppy disk, which was released in 1971, was 8 inches in diameter, stored 80 kilobytes, and was read-only. Memorex would invent the first read/write floppy disk drive in 1972 — and by 1973, IBM began replacing the punchcard readers that accompanied its mainframe computers with read/write floppy drives.
Later, with the 8-inch disks proving to be too big for use with microcomputers, which had started to emerge in the 70s, the 5 1/4-inch disk was created. These could store less data, but the drives were a lot cheaper to produce.
By the early ’80s, affordable floppy disks and drives were an important force behind the emergence of affordable, home- and office-based computers like the IBM PC and Commodore 64. Magnetic drums and punch cards were effectively antiquated over night, and software was almost exclusively released on 5 1/4-inch (and eventually 3 1/2-inch) floppy disks through until the turn of the century.