External 800k 3.5 inch Floppy Disk Drive with connecting cable (1986).

In 1984, Apple made a bold move from 5.25 inch floppy disks to superior 3.5 inch floppies and provided a port for external floppy disk drive connection. Initially the drives were single sided 400k, then double sided 800k, then high density superdrive 1.4MB.

External floppy disk drives were developed for the first Macintosh released in 1984 and subsequent external floppy disk drives were released to read the 800k and later the 1.4MB floppy disks. The donated external floppy disk drive could read 400k floppy disks and 800k floppy disks but not 1.4MB floppy disks.

The 'floppy' name is a carry over from 8 inch and 5.25 inch disks, which are quite flexible and internally have the same media as the 3.5 inch disk, that is, the part that carries the data in each type is a thin, flexible plastic sheet covered with a magnetic material.

An external floppy disk drive was an economical solution for the need for more disk space compared to the high cost of hard disk drives in the 1980s. In 1986, a consequence was that desktop publishing with PageMaker or other DTP software became affordable and practicable. Without the external floppy disk drive to store more data, it was necessary to use a second floppy disk and engage in a time consuming process of swapping disks.

This item is part of a representative collection of hardware, software, trade literature and promotional material that documents the history of the Apple company, and its contribution to, and impact on the computer industry and society.

Physical Description

A beige plastic case with slot for 3.5 inch floppy disk insertion and a small hole adjacent to the slot to insert a paper clip to release a jammed disk.

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