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Put it on the BUS!

Flash! Is the Zip Disk dead?

By Ross Tester

Moving large amounts of data – photos, music, video, etc, from one computer to another has been a problem since there have been computers and large amounts of data! If the files were more than a floppy's worth (ie, 1.4MB or there-abouts), smarter solutions needed to be found.

Click for larger image
They’ve been faithful servants, but maybe it’s time they were retired...

Indeed, very close to home, this problem has caused not just a few headaches here at SILICON CHIP. As you would imagine, magazines like SILICON CHIP have been produced on computers now for many years (thank heavens for desktop publishing, photo manipulation and drawing packages!).

But we don't own a huge printing press capable of printing a 100-page, four-colour magazine (office photocopiers don't quite cut it!)

So if the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed has to go to the mountain. Ergo, each month we have to send a complete magazine's worth of files to the printers.

Very early on, we used whopping (for then!) 44MB "Syquest" disks – many of them for each issue.

Even progressing to 88MB Syquests helped only a little. They were somewhat unreliable and, being magnetic recordings, occasionally suffered catastrophic failure. There were even a couple of times when we were forced to record the magazine on a hard disk, remove the hard disk from the computer, package it very carefully and then airfreight that to the printers. (Don't knock it – it worked. And got us out of some tight spots!)

We also used ZIP disks – both in their original 100MB format and their 250MB reincarnation. The disks themselves were usually very reliable in the short term but we found the drives left a little to be desired mechanically. We had several failures in the one year. Besides, ZIP disks were/are relatively expensive.

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