Trivia

Hard

In The 1980s, Computer Hobbyists Would Double The Capacity Of Floppy Disks With?

Paper Clips
Tape
Hole Punches
Electromagnets
The front of the box for The Notcher Floppy Diskette Doubler.
Suncom/Worthpoint

Answer: Hole Punches

If you’re a geek of a certain vintage (and a frugal one at that), then you’ll be rather familiar with today’s bit of trivia: the use of a punch tool to double your floppy disk storage capacity.

For everyone else, a bit of explanation is in order. Back in the 1980s, floppy disks were, originally, single-sided. The disk went into the drive in one orientation and there was a little read/write protect tab on the disk that, if open, indicated to the drive that the disk was ready to be written to. Later, double-sided floppy disks were introduced and many people realized something: the single-sided disks could have been used as double-sided disks all along. All you had to do was punch a read/write notch on the other side of the disk, flip it over, and you were in business.

Sure, using a single-sided disk as a double-sided disk was risky (the sold-as-double-sided disks were usually better quality since they were designed for the extra storage and the wear and tear), but that didn’t stop a niche market from popping up: disk punches that were designed to nip a little rectangle of plastic off the sleeve of a single-sided disk and trick the drive into reading it on both sides. Such tools went by names like “Disk Doubler” or, seen here, “The Notcher”. Today, outside of a computer museum or a dusty box found in the corner of a basement or old IT building, you won’t be finding many floppy disks or disk punchers around.

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