3 1/2 Inch Floppy Disk – A Blast from the Past

Many of our students will have never seen one of these disks. There is not muchfloppy 1 to them BUT I think the idea of a rotating self-contained disk is pretty neat! It’s a good starter to opening up an actual IDE or SATA hard drive. (Those may be obsolete in no time as solid state seems to be moving forward pretty quickly)

The disks are, as their name suggests, 3 1/2 inches wide. They’re pretty thin too!


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The disk goes into the drive and the silver latch opens up by the drive mechanism. It’s a simple tiny spring that is pushed open when it gets inserted. The silver latch is pulled off easily. It isn’t really attached that securely.

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Without the latch you can see the part of the disk that actually stores the information is visible. The silver latch is there to keep dust away and protect the information. Even with the sliding latch off the disk is still in one piece. It doesn’t have any structural function.

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You can take any edge of the disk and pry them apart with a screw driver, knife or your fingernails. When the two sides are apart you get two halves to the disk.

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The left hand picture shows the actual disk inside of it’s enclosure. The right hand side shows the cloth that surrounds the disk on both sides. The cloth wipes dirt off the disk and helps to keep it clean.floppy 7floppy 8







The disk itself is very thin. It’s what actually stores the information (1s &0s, of course!). When it is put into the drive the metal part of the disk is grabbed by the disk drive and rotates quickly which then allows the data to be read.

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It may not seem important to look at a disk like this but I think it’s still valid. Although they are not used any more it is a precursor to a hard-drive which is essentially the same thing but has its own enclosure.

As well since they are not used you can probably find some in an office somewhere it not harm anything when you let the kids tear them apart. As I took these pictures my 6 year old grabbed one and went to town on it. Thought it helped to start building some ‘engineering curiosity’!

If you’ve got any questions or comments leave them down below.




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