[thechat] oh yeah here it is "ADVENTURE"

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Mon Sep 24 13:50:46 CDT 2007

Erika and Hassan had more questions about the 12" floppies:

E asked: 
>>cool... were they really floppy?  CPM had the 8inch floppies IIRC.  
>>No hard plastic around them; they were really floppy.

Yup.  They were just like the 8".  Only they were 12".   Which made them
even floppier.  Same mylar.  Same folded over black housing material.
IIRC, the seams on the housing were even cheesier than on the 8".  Lots
of nice gaps to gather dust.  Heck, smoke too!  This was back when folks
could smoke at their desks {... and dinosaurs walked the earth!}

Hassan noted:
>>Well... someone, somewhere may have made 12" floppies, but I sure
>>remember them being used on "late 70s IBM mainframes". And in the 
>>early-to-mid-70s I was maintaining IBM key-to-disk 374x systems that
used 8" disks.

Ah!  Gotcha!  The 12" drive I came across was on a machine I was using
as a dumb terminal in the early 80s.  I have no idea who the
manufacturer was.  (My guess would be Western Electric, but that's only
because most of the dumb terminals at the phone company where I was
working were made 'internally' at Western.)  It was not physically
connected to any computer.  The drive was simply used for end user
storage.  In the area where I was using it, it was not anything that
would have been used by anyone in IT for anything. [1]

Our very non-IT group had a "computer room".  (I know that's what it was
cuz that's what it said on the door!)  Inside were a number of dumb
terminals that were pretty much exclusively used to dial into the
mainframe 30 miles down the road.  The worst was a Model 10
Teletypewriter that was about 6' wide, piano black with itty bitty round
keys, and ran at a blistering 10 baud!  What a beast!  There were some
more modern green phosphor screen jobbies running at 300 or (gasp) even
1200 baud.  There was a Teletypewriter model 40 that was always in high
demand because it was the nicest machine of the lot.  There was a Model
43 Teletypewriter or two with no screen at all.  A buncha dumb terminals
of various vintages.  These were all kept together in a separate room
not because they needed a raised floor or a halon environment.  They
were isolated because they were NOISY!

And there were a couple of 'weird' machines:
* There was a second machine (in addition to the Model 10) that would
read and write to paper tape.  Long strips of tractor fed paper that
were about 1" wide.  Wonderfully fragile storage medium!  I still have
two of the boxes we used to use to store the paper tapes in.  I keep
spare coins in them nowadays.
* There was a machine with dual 8" floppy drives.  I *think* that one
had an acoustic modem ... That awful black suction-cuppy thing you tried
to get the telephone handset to stick into?  This machine was mostly
monopolized by a couple of accountants.  I don't think anybody else used
it much.
* And there was one machine with a 12" floppy drive.  Don't remember
much about it.  I think it had a matte black 'pebbly' finish with a
monitor sitting on top of the floppy drive box.  Oh yeah!  I think there
was this lever on the front that you would turn 90 degrees (from
pointing at 9 o'clock to pointing at 6 o'clock) to 'lock in' the floppy.
Almost forgot about that!

Long after the machines themselves were gone, I still had two boxes of
12" floppies. (You used to buy floppies in a box that was very similar
to the old 5.25" boxes.)  One box (I think) was black and yellow.  I
think those disks were made (or labeled) IBM.  The other box (I think)
was blue and white and might have been Nashua or Verbatim.  I'm not
sure.  I may still have those boxes.  I'll look.  They were great fun
when someone would come by asking to borrow a floppy!


I had a friend who was working for a company in Solon, Ohio (Tandon?)
that was one of the very first manufacturers of the 3.5" OEM disk
drives.  I had him give me a blank disk that I kept pinned up at my desk
loooong before you could even order a machine to use those in.  That got
some funny looks too!

[1] With the short (and lamentable) exception of a few weeks about a
year ago, I have never actually worked in IT.

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