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Leeroy ST

Tape or Floppy? Which did you prefer overall?

Which did you find better?  

40 members have voted

  1. 1. Which did you find better?

    • Floppy
      35
    • Tape
      5


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4 hours ago, Krebizfan said:

 

The serial port floppy drives didn't have much more capacity than the battery backed RAM cartridges. The Tandy PDD (Brother FB-100) stored 100K. The Mitsumi Quick Disk, the most successful spiral floppy, stored 64K per side. The 1984 NEC 8201 and the 1989 Atari Portfolio both support 128K RAM cartridges. The NEC cartridge cost $400; the Atari cartridge $199. The PDD started off at about $300 with the Quick Disk tending to be in the $100 to $150 range depending on what system it was attached to. Disks were where the savings mounted up. The PDD used the common 3.5" DD disks which were less than a dollar a disk. The Quick Disk should have been cheaper still but the only prices when new I can find are for the Nintendo version at $10 per disk. 

 

The serial port floppy undercut the external floppy controller cartridge plus external drive and cabling through much of the 80s. 

 

 

If we compare drives to the computers they worked with, the TPDD connected to a TRS-80 Mode 100, which had a maximum of 32K RAM. The quick disk… well, I haven’t a clue what kind of hardware that would have connected to. I don’t remember hearing the Portfolio having floppy storage, but I’ve seen people hook 1.44mb drives to it. 

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2 hours ago, bluejay said:

If we compare drives to the computers they worked with, the TPDD connected to a TRS-80 Mode 100, which had a maximum of 32K RAM. The quick disk… well, I haven’t a clue what kind of hardware that would have connected to. I don’t remember hearing the Portfolio having floppy storage, but I’ve seen people hook 1.44mb drives to it. 

The TPDD connected to the Model 100 and the other members of the Kyocera family plus the Z-88 and Husky Hunter 2. 

 

The Quick Disk was used by many machines: Nintendo and Smith Corona word processors most often but versions were offered for C64, MSX, Spectrum, and Dragon. The oddity here was that many models of the drive had extra pins to prevent the use of the wrong brand of disk which would have holes in the wrong places. 

 

DIP (the designer of the Atari Portfolio) offered a 720K external floppy drive that cost about $600 that would work with the Portfolio. Atari seemed to be pushing the memory cards and a PC card reader instead. There was software to allow usage of the Tandy PDD which seemed a bit strange. 

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About 20 years ago, I was working a part time job at a grocery store's meat department.  We used electronic scales that would print barcoded labels for people's purchases.  Strangely, this scale system we had used a TPDD to back up its database to floppy disk. No need for a TRS-80 Model 100/102 either.  

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On 9/17/2021 at 11:12 AM, Casey said:

About 20 years ago, I was working a part time job at a grocery store's meat department.  We used electronic scales that would print barcoded labels for people's purchases.  Strangely, this scale system we had used a TPDD to back up its database to floppy disk. No need for a TRS-80 Model 100/102 either.  

Long time ago, I, too, worked in a meat department of a local grocery store.  Musta been near on 30 years ago this day. Why, I remember some of the strange fangled interface ports on those scales, and some inventory system what could plug into them to set prices and such.

 

Boy, how I remember old man Rex, our manager, having to trek across all the way across the store with this Telxon doodad, dodging the roving gangs of stockers. He had to sneak past the danger-ridden land of the baggers as they basked in the sunlight which beamed in through the front windows, never to reach the back, and reveled in the fresh air ushered in as customers came and went through the automated doors -- a hazard in and of itself when the doors went wild and ate an old lady or two.  So many times he would get caught up and asked to do some kind of price look-up or adjustment as he carried the magical totem, which would keep him for long harrowing times of customer rush, leaving us in the back to our own devices. Many a pound of ground chuck was lost those times with a price of $1.79 per pound, well under the new price of $1.84 per pound; it would take days to recover.

 

But I digress.  Now these kids got these whiz-bang wireless doohickeys and know nothing of such dark times. They cannot tell the different between a DE9 and a hole in the ground! Well, all will be fine if they just stay off my lawn.

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10 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

Long time ago, I, too, worked in a meat department of a local grocery store.  Musta been near on 30 years ago this day. Why, I remember some of the strange fangled interface ports on those scales, and some inventory system what could plug into them to set prices and such.

 

Boy, how I remember old man Rex, our manager, having to trek across all the way across the store with this Telxon doodad, dodging the roving gangs of stockers. He had to sneak past the danger-ridden land of the baggers as they basked in the sunlight which beamed in through the front windows, never to reach the back, and reveled in the fresh air ushered in as customers came and went through the automated doors -- a hazard in and of itself when the doors went wild and ate an old lady or two.  So many times he would get caught up and asked to do some kind of price look-up or adjustment as he carried the magical totem, which would keep him for long harrowing times of customer rush, leaving us in the back to our own devices. Many a pound of ground chuck was lost those times with a price of $1.79 per pound, well under the new price of $1.84 per pound; it would take days to recover.

 

But I digress.  Now these kids got these whiz-bang wireless doohickeys and know nothing of such dark times. They cannot tell the different between a DE9 and a hole in the ground! Well, all will be fine if they just stay off my lawn.

Some younger ones hear me say ISO9000 standard and think I made it up.

 

 

Edited by Leeroy ST
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I grew up with an Atari 800 XL, and an Atari 1050. My older brother did start out with a 410 cassette player, but rather quickly moved to a disk drive. The cost of disk drive was easily justified by local computer clubs (crackers) availability of software. Cough, Ahem.

 

I rarely loaded any games, or homemade programs from tape, but when I did it was a slog.

 

When we eventually bought a x486, we got one with a DAT/DDS tape drive. Which was quite useful as a cheap alternative for hard disk drive backups. (1.3-2.0 Gb)

 

 

 

 

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Tapes might be better for longevity and are ok on the Commodore VIC-20, but loading anything for Commodore 64 and such takes way too long. The larger the files size, the longer you have to wait. When collecting games I generally stick to cartridges. In fact I bought a C64C that came with an SD card loader (the SD2IEC) so I don't even have to bother with either anymore. Like if I were to start buying floppy or tape games again, it would just be to look at them and their boxes.

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27 minutes ago, TheGameCollector said:

Tapes might be better for longevity

Yup, that is actually correct that magnetic media stored as a tape winded around itself appears to maintain its magnetic layer better than a disk coated with magnetic layer, even if it has a protective cover. Of course that assumes the tape won't snatch or get tangled up, but you might as well spill some goo on your disks to make them unreadable.

 

Also from a backup perspective, the time it takes to load/restore it might not be that much of a factor vs the knowledge the data still is intact.

 

To some extent, I believe using tape is something of an "acquired taste". You need to do it for a while to learn to accept it as a media, with its limitations in terms of speed and more importantly searchability and random access. Like I wrote in my first post, if tape recorder was all you could afford, that is what you used until you had saved up enough money for the floppy drive you may have lusted for 2-5 years. In my case it was more like 6 years between my first C64 experience and the day I could buy myself a floppy drive.

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4 hours ago, carlsson said:

Yup, that is actually correct that magnetic media stored as a tape winded around itself appears to maintain its magnetic layer better than a disk coated with magnetic layer, even if it has a protective cover. Of course that assumes the tape won't snatch or get tangled up, but you might as well spill some goo on your disks to make them unreadable.

 

Also from a backup perspective, the time it takes to load/restore it might not be that much of a factor vs the knowledge the data still is intact.

 

To some extent, I believe using tape is something of an "acquired taste". You need to do it for a while to learn to accept it as a media, with its limitations in terms of speed and more importantly searchability and random access. Like I wrote in my first post, if tape recorder was all you could afford, that is what you used until you had saved up enough money for the floppy drive you may have lusted for 2-5 years. In my case it was more like 6 years between my first C64 experience and the day I could buy myself a floppy drive.

I heard the Coleco RAM drive could work with other computers with adjustments so that could be an option for tapes.

 

The real question is reliability.

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I've got no idea about that particular format, but there were string floppies, wafer drives etc for various systems including those where regular tapes and floppy disks were dominant. Yet again it would boil down to availability and how widespread it was. For storing your own copies probably anything would work but obviously commercial software only came on the three established formats.

 

Also while floppy drives tended to be expensive, I'm not sure those alternative storage systems for which you would have to search high and low for media, were that much cheaper and offered speed and accessibility that the compact cassette didn't. It is like you have a nickel ring and want something fancier, but instead of saving up for gold, you buy some strange alloy of Shibuichi or Tibetan silver because at least it is a little more fancy than nickel.

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See also the Wafadrive and the related Quick Data Drive, both working on string floppy principles. But yes, I'd consider a QDD to be Tibetan silver for a C64 user looking for the next upgrade step from tape recorder, if a 1541 or one of the clones still was a bit too steep.

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Sticky shed applies to both cassette tape and floppy disks. Given the very small amount of damage that can prevent a successful read with tape while a disk would attempt multiple tries on a sector that fails ECC, I think the probability is higher that a disk will be read than a tape will be read presuming equivalent care in storage and quality of media. 

 

The Quick Disk for the C64 was strange, trying to compete with an already established disk system. On other hardware, where the disk controller was not released or multiple third parties had incompatible disk controllers, the serial port connected drive worked well enough and the user wasn't stuck with a very expensive lemon if the wrong disk controller was purchased. Stringy floppies and serial port drives needed much less memory for buffering and controlling the drive.

 

Media was an issue since most of these companies foundered quickly but there were enough unsuccessful floppy formats to give the same challenge. The probably best alternative design from a media sourcing perspective was the modified cassette tape deck that always operated in fast forward mode. Four times the tape speed allowed for four times the data rate. Any cassette tape would work with that mechanism. 

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2 hours ago, zzip said:

image.png.93d12775af026f0cbe56a0522348b9af.png

 

I want to see the Walkman that plays that thing!

Craneman. Good for listening to music while doing construction.

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Floppy by a mile, but I only ever had tape for my CoCo3.  And it was reasonably fast, and did support filenames.  Would just read, until it found the right one.

 

I mostly wrote assembly language for the CoCo, and was able to build bigger programs a piece at a time, then load them all, save, etc...

 

On Atari, I hated the tape!  Was slow, and iffy.  Got a disk drive ASAP.  Same for Apple 2.

 

A good tape system was tolerable.  Better than nothing.

 

At my peak with tape, I had made a bunch of custom length ones.  Like a library.  Same program on both sides, super quick rewind after program load.  Just flip it, quick rewind and go.

 

 

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