[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Shugart Floppy Sandwich

July 27th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Shugart Mini-Floppy Ad - 1979Click above for the full advertisement.

Just your typical late-1970s scene — a poofy-haired car salesman at home in a tie with a huge sandwich, a glass of milk, a large set of keys, a generic S-100 bus computer with a TV terminal, and a book called “Trout” behind him.

He likes to fish.

Of course, the whole purpose of this scene is to push the use of “genuine” Shugart mini-floppies in the home. Shugart, if you didn’t know, invented the mini-floppy. And mini-floppies, if you didn’t know, are commonly known as 5 1/4″ diskettes today. They replaced the giant 8″ clown disks people used before that (read your comments about 8″ floppies here). Sadly, these smaller disks held less data at the time, but that was a small price to pay for not knocking over your friends while swapping storage media.

[ From BYTE, July 1979 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Do you still use 5 1/4″ floppies to store new or recent data? If so, what are you using them for?

14 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Shugart Floppy Sandwich”

  1. robert Says:

    I’m not still actively using them, but I still have a ton of them. They’re holding things like old Apple games, DOS software (including Lotus 1-2-3), and BASIC programs I wrote as a kid. One of them should still have EGATrek on it.

  2. Sirpaul Says:

    I don’t use 5.25″ floppies for any modern computing. I still have a bunch of them around the house for my Atari 800, though..

    Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Shugart now Seagate?

  3. medarch Says:

    TROUT sounds like an obsolete programming language.

  4. robert Says:

    Mr. Shugart was working at IBM when one of his teams invented the floppy disk. He later started Shugart Technology, which did indeed change its name to Seagate. I remember hearing that he resigned when I was still in high school; 12 years ago, maybe?

  5. robert Says:

    Forgot a bit; in between IBM and Shugart Tech., he had a different company whose name escapes me (but did have Shugart in the name) which was bought shortly by some other large company; that Shugart is the one that actually invented the 5.25″ disk. The one in the ad, however, is the one that became Seagate.

  6. Ben Says:

    Don’t use them for any new data anymore. Some time ago (maybe 9 years) I came across a bunch of new 1.2M 5.25″, and I used them to hold things I didn’t want other people to be able to see, which was assured because nobody else had 5.25″ anymore (basically, security through obscurity). But that just became too big a PITA, so I gave up.
    I also, though, still have a ton of them, almost all 360K with miscellaneous DOS stuff. Don’t think I have any Apple II stuff – we were not allowed to keep the disks in school (those things cost money, you know!), and I never had an Apple II of my own.

  7. svofski Says:

    Hmm an average file of “what you don’t want other people to be able to see” is now probably larger than a single 5,25″ floppy could hold 😉

  8. Geoff V. Says:

    A tad off topic, but did anyone else notice that there were four open quotes and only one close quote in the ad copy.

    Back on topic, I pull out my ][e every couple years to play GATO and other classic games. Emulators can’t match the real experience.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:


    When printing a quote that stretches across multiple paragraphs, it’s customary to print another quote at the beginning of each paragraph within the quote — it reminds the reader that they’re reading a quotation, despite the break. A closing quotation mark is not required until the end of the quote. So the ad passes the punctuation test. 🙂

  10. Moondog Says:

    Awhile back I was looking through Computer Chronicles episodes kept at Archive.org, and there’s an episode from 1985 where they interviewed Shugart , and asked him when he thinks the 3.5″ floppy will replaced the 5.25″ disk as the preferred media. Funny thing is he said something along the lines that the 3.5″ will never replace the 5.25″ format, as everyone is using it and no one will want to switch.

  11. SQLGuru Says:

    I converted most of my old 5 1/4″ disks to 3 1/2″ disks a while back….at least for non-commercial content. I guess it’s close to time to convert the 3 1/2″ disks to CD (or maybe I should skip CD and go to DVD?). Either way, I don’t actively use either format, but I could if I needed to.

  12. Teacheemechanic Says:

    I just found literally thousands of those cleaning out my mom’s basement from when I was like 7 and my brother was in his late teens….


    Also… that computer is made of wood. Wood, people. that is just..just.. AWESOME!

  13. XCALIBR8 Says:

    I personally don’t have any 5 1/4″ floppies but my buddy has a ton for his Commodore 64 and 128.

    I still have a locking case for my 3 1/2″ floppy disks that have a ton of random dos programs, including emulators and roms from the early beginnings of emulation.

    Now I feel old for even knowing what this post is about. I showed my little cousin a 3 1/2″ floppy and he was baffled as to why it useful if it only held 1.44 mb (for all us geeks we know it holds 1.47 mb (base 10) > 1.40 (base 2)) 😀

  14. Rockin' Kat Says:

    I have a ton of floppies… Over the years I’ve managed to find a big number of file cabinet style 3.5″ floppy holders… just glancing around this room I have about 19 of them… over half of them are fully loaded. I have more in storage.. but they don’t have anything in them.

    I also have a 5.25″ floppies for C64, Apple II, and IBM compatables… most of the IBM stuff is HD, but everything else is DD. I’ve got packs and packs of blanks… as well as several IKEA CD rom shelf boxes full of disks with stuff on them… I use the boxes because they look nice on a shelf, I could never find file cabinet style holders for 5.25′ floppies, and I hate how much wasted shelf space there is with average floppy boxes with flip lids. Always way taller and longer than they need to be for how much they hold.

    The newest computer I have with a 5.25″ floppy drive in it is a Pentium II. I can’t use 5.25″ floppies on my main computer.. It’s a Mac.. but I do have a couple USB 3.5″ floppy drives hooked up to it for certain needs… like when I use one of my Sony Mavicas to take a quick picture to post online…Every other digital camera I buy always ends up with weird problems with no real explanation… with the exception of my Apple QuickTake cameras… but those aren’t exactly convenient.

Leave a Reply