Who Invented the Floppy Disk?
A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, readable by a floppy disk drive (FDD), and sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric which serves the purpose of keeping the data storage disk free of foreign particles such as dust.
In 1971, the IBM Company of USA introduced the first ‘memory disk’, as it was called then, or the ‘floppy disk’ as it is known today. IBM engineers, led by Alan Shugart invented the ‘floppy’. The first floppy was an eight inch plastic disk coated with magnetic iron oxide.
Data was written to, and read from the disk’s surface. The nickname ‘floppy’ came from its flexibility. The floppy disk was considered a revolutionary device at the time for its portability, which provided a new, and easy physical means of transporting data from computer to computer.
Floppy disks remained a popular portable digital-storage medium for nearly 40 years after being introduced commercially in 1971. Throughout the period in which floppy disks were common, they went through numerous improvements, each time significantly improving their available storage capacity and reducing their physical size as computer data storage technology advanced.
Sizes ranged from 8 inches in the first commercialized floppy disk to the 3½-inch floppy disks still available today.
Floppy disks slowly lost popularity as better technology developed which was able to offer higher levels of storage capacity, smaller physical characteristics, and faster processing speeds.
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floppy disk drives still have some limited uses, especially with legacy industrial computer equipment, they have been superseded by data storage methods with much greater capacity such as USB flash drives, portable external hard disk drives, optical discs, memory cards, and computer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.