The flop's a hit. (floptical technology)
by Robert Bixby
Floptical technology promises to change the way you store data. The read-write optical disk will come in a familiar package--a square of plastic that's virtually indistinguishable from the shirt-pocket 3 1/2-inch disk--but on that disk you can store a whopping 21MB of information. The disk format, now supported by Insite Peripherals, Iomega, Hitachi Maxell, and 3M, involves stamping concentric rings in a barium-ferrite disk. The rings assist the read-write heads in such perfect horizontal tracking that 1250 tracks can be laid down per inch. The actual data is stored magnetically between the stamped rings. The same drive can read and write 720K and 1.44MB 3 1/2-inch disks.
Commodore International has selected the Insite Floptical drive for use in its Amiga 3000. There is some competition in the large-capacity, small-format area. The 2.88MB drive has been on the market for some time but has been impeded by high disk and equipment costs in return for only a twofold increase in capacity.
Panasonic recently introduced and then withdrew a 10MB drive from the market, intending to boost capacity to 20MB. NEC, Brier, and Springer Technology are all players in the field, but none have met with success yet. On the horizon is Sony's erasable CD in small format, which could arrive with a capacity of up to 128MB. Mass storage for little machines has never been such an exciting area for technical advances and marketing.