OT: Ah, the ZipDisk

riredale wrote on 2/14/2014, 4:44 PM
It's Friday afternoon, and I'm happily surfing around and I happen to come upon a brief article about the ZipDisk. Remember those? Back when 100MB was a lot of portable storage and CD burners were a future development I used a Zip drive to back up W98 on my gigantic 4GB hard drive on my Compaq computer.

Unfortunately, Zip drives often developed the infamous "click of death" wherein a drive would destroy 100MB of data on a ZipDisk in a fraction of a second. And then cheap CD and later DVD burners arrived. Now Zip is but a fond memory of years gone by. I guess the young whippersnappers on this board won't have a clue what I'm talking about. Innocence of youth and all that.

Ironically, the ZipDisk shows up on PCWorld's 2006 "Worst Tech Products of all time" list (15th) and a year later on their "Best Tech Products of all time" (23rd). Which brings up a whole list of other products that I can reminisce about. But first I'd better refill my beverage container.


rraud wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:01 PM
How about the (huge) 1.4MB floppy disc..
or for portable music media, the 8-track tape cartridge (just prior to the Phillips cassette format)
PeterDuke wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:04 PM
I had a tape drive that daisy-chained onto the floppy disk controller. It was a heap of junk and caused more anguish than my ZipDisk. The tape kept coming off the spool or got creased.

The ZipDisk plugged into the printer port for those too young to know.
3d87c4 wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:21 PM
I was looking for a file a month or two back and fired up my old windows 95 laptop. It had a swappable zip drive that still works fine. I also had an external SyQuest drive that used 250MB cartridges & most of them still worked too---only a couple wouldn't spin up anymore.

When I first got interested in 3D the SyQuest 88's were the standard (or was it 44's). I've propagated scuzzy controllers and SyQuest drives through several generations of desk top computers over the years.
GeeBax wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:30 PM
I went looking for some old material about a year ago and suspected it was on one of the many ZIP disks I had socked away. But I did not have a drive any longer. A quick search around the net came up with a USB version which did not cost much, so I bought it.

It worked just fine, but I never found the software files I was looking for....
robwood wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:45 PM
i was so happy when ZIP and JAZ drives vanished from my workflow... and just remembering my experiences with them, i'm grateful i haven't seen one since.
John_Cline wrote on 2/14/2014, 5:46 PM
I used Bernoulli drives for storing 3D animation sequences back in 1987, they were large 20 MB cartridges and were made by Iomega.


We later went to Jaz drives, also made by Iomega, and I also had a Zip drives which all eventually developed the "click of death." The bottom line was that Iomega never got any of their products to work 100% reliably and I just ceased taking the company seriously.
Steve Mann wrote on 2/14/2014, 6:37 PM
I still have a ZIPdrive if anyone needs files converted.

At the time ZipDrive was introduced, a 10Mb hard disk drive was several hundred dollars, and writable CD's cost over $1 each (with a high failure rate). So it was a breakthrough product then.
johnmeyer wrote on 2/14/2014, 10:39 PM
I too have operational Zip drives (two of them, one parallel port connection and the other SCSI). I also had four Bernoulli boxes and dozens of cartridges. The Zip drive was actually a more robust technology: all four of the Bernoulli boxes died, as did the cartridges. By contrast, despite the "click of death" problem, all my Zip disks still work (I tested them about a year ago).

Iomega (the manufacturer) introduced the Zip drive at Comdex in November 1994, and their stock price went from $2 to over $20 in the next six months. Calling it a failure is a demonstration of how stupid and shallow most of our media writers have become. As others have already pointed out, the writable CD killed it, not the "click of death" or any other technological glitch or problem. While it lasted, it was about as hot a peripheral product as I've seen, and it was almost entirely built and marketed by a single company. That was quite a feat in an industry usually drive by standards (e.g., floppies, IDE drives, SATA drives, etc., all of which are manufactured by multiple companies).
John_Cline wrote on 2/15/2014, 7:04 AM
John, it's not that I wasn't impressed with what Iomega was doing at the time, after all, I invested heavily in three of their removable drive products, it's just that the products weren't 100% reliable in my experience and I was always nervous about whether I was going to be able to retrieve my valuable client data when I needed it.
VMP wrote on 2/15/2014, 9:02 AM
What are these ancient artifacts that you are discussing here?

*I am born in the mid 80's* :-D. Interesting nonetheless.

One thing is for sure, I love my TDK Blu-rays!

What a great invention.

Now I can backup my projects with 1-3 BR discs.
Compared, it took about 10-14 DVD's before.
Never mind Cd's.

Price per Gig is the same as DVD's and I can save money on the storage boxes.
Also double backup is easy this way.

For storing away I trust Optical Discs more than Hd's due to electronic & magnetic issues which may cause a wipeout. Like a nearby lighting strike, or more common electric malfunctions. Like a malfunctioning socket/usb port.

The 1000 years lasting M-disc sounds great too :-D.
But I wonder if our great grand kids would be able to read them with their Tricorders and holograms.

zcheema wrote on 2/15/2014, 9:08 AM
I have an 8 inch Floppy, no pun intended, in the loft
vtxrocketeer wrote on 2/15/2014, 2:47 PM
I was a heavy user of Zip disks. I was also plagued by the click of death that, to my astonishment, Iomega told me during a tech service call that it could actually propagate from a bad disk to a drive and then to any other disk inserted into that drive. And, no, this isn't a metaphor...
ushere wrote on 2/15/2014, 4:27 PM

can i send you a pile of old aston c/g disks. love to see who's still around on the credits ;-)
musicvid10 wrote on 2/15/2014, 7:01 PM
I've still got a magnetic tape drive in the basement somewhere . . .
Steve Mann wrote on 2/15/2014, 7:18 PM
You must have a big basement.
PeterDuke wrote on 2/15/2014, 7:44 PM
Whenever film makers wanted to depict the use of computers, they showed those big tape drives with their start-stop motion. Or flashing lights, like on the Data General Nova 1200 minicomputer we had at work. (1200 = 1200ns memory core.)
johnmeyer wrote on 2/15/2014, 8:05 PM
I worked for a company that made 8" floppy drives (Sykes Datatronics, Rochester, NY). They also made data storage based on audio cassettes. Reliability?? With the audio cassettes, basically nil.
Chienworks wrote on 2/16/2014, 11:11 AM
One of our early servers had a 20MB QIC tape drive for backup. I remember one evening starting the backup and it sounded "funny", so i looked at the drive. The tape was just sort of wobbling back and forth, but not running. Canceling the backup didn't work. So, i figured i'd wait and see what happens. 25 minutes later it finished the backup process and said "rewinding", then "verifying". The tape still never moved. 25 minutes later it said "verification complete. zero errors."

Just for the heck of it, i spot checked a few of the other backup tapes. They were all blank.

Sometimes i'm glad tape is dead.
Geoff_Wood wrote on 2/16/2014, 2:19 PM
If you though Zip was bad, what about the Jaz ?!!! I thought the click of death was unique to them. Back in the days when 1GB was HUGE.

I have a stack of maybe 10 Jaz cartridges in the corner of my office here. Maybe I'll fire up the drive to see if any still work !

Thanks Iomega.

VMP wrote on 2/23/2014, 1:30 PM
And if you thought floppy drives can't sing:

Star Wars Imperial March with Floppy drives

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (On Floppy Drive Organ)

Ghostbuster's Theme on eight floppy drives