The Editors and Readers of COMPUTE!
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Whither The 5¼ Floppy?
I read a newspaper article stating that the production of 5¼-inch floppy disks will be halted. Is this true?
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.