Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 87 / AUGUST 1987 / PAGE 8

Readers' Feedback

The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions you would like to see addressed in this column, write to "Readers' Feedback," COMPUTE!, P.O. Box 5406, Greensboro, NC 27403. Due to the volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot provide personal answers to technical questions.

Whither The 5¼ Floppy?

I read a newspaper article stating that the production of 5¼-inch floppy disks will be halted. Is this true?

Richard LaBorde

Many computer manufacturers have begun to include 3½-inch disk drives as standard equipment. Recent examples include the IBM Personal System 2 family, Amiga, Apple Macintosh, Atari ST, and a number of IBM PC compatibles. You can also buy add-on 3½-inch drives for the Apple II or the Commodore 64 and 128. But this doesn't mean that 5¼-inch floppy drives or disks are dead. Many recent introductions, such as the Compaq Portable III and Epson Equity I+, include 5¼-inch drives. And there are over 10 million 5¼-inch disk drives in use at this time—far too big a marketplace factor to be abandoned overnight.

What's happening is a gradual process of transition that will certainly take years. Recognizing the new demand for 3½-inch disks, some software manufacturers have begun supplying their programs in both formats—either in a "double pack" containing disks of both formats, or by giving buyers the option of 5¼-or 3½-inch disks. It's likely that more new computers will use 3½-inch disk drives, and some suppliers of 5¼-inch disks and drives may decrease production as demand slows. However, you should be able to find 5¼-inch disks long into the future. Take the case of 8-inch disks: Few if any new computers come with an 8-inch drive these days, but 8-inch disks are still readily available.