Schiphol-Rijk (The Netherlands), 9 May 2003 -- 1969 was the year when Imation (at that time part of 3M) started to supply the first 8" diskette material to pioneering companies in the computer industry. Imation now announces the shipment of its five billionth floppy diskette from its Wahpeton, North Dakota facility. Imation manufactured itís first 3.5-inch floppy disk at Wahpeton in 1989, and currently manufactures nearly two million floppies each day in more than 30 colours.
In 1969 the huge flexible 8" disks offered a storage capacity of up to 360 KB, enough for most computing applications at that time. Six years later the little brother of big mama 8" had been brought to market : the 5ľ" diskette. While the 8" diskette was mainly dedicated to professional applications, I.e. in the medical imaging business, the graphic arts industry or for scientific research, the 5 ľ" floppy disk accelerated penetration of the PC onto the desks of office workers and into families homes. Various formats of 5 ľ" floppies have been available over the years and helped to increase the available storage space.
Computer users in these days were familiar with the abbreviations that highlighted the diskettes storage capacity: single sided, single density stands for 360 KB, single sided, double density provided 720 KB, and the "top model" named double sided, double density nearly offered as much as todayís standard 3,5" diskettes. The only difference : while the 3,5" diskette has a net capacity of 1,44 MB (IBM-formatted; Mac-formatted: 1,40 MB), itís ancient brother offered it as a gross capacity, from which the data volume in the formatting procedure required had to be deducted. Anyhow, roughly one MegaByte at that time was enough to run a full PC operating system and a good portion of the application software too. The PCís of the early days usually offered one or two floppy disk drives but no harddisk.
3,5" diskettes were introduced in 1986 and without them the penetration of computing technologies into the daily life of people probably wouldnít have taken place at all. The diskette over many years has been the one and only standardized and universal digital storage product, and it probably will remain the only one within the history of personal computing. It was this technology which enabled virtually 100% data retrieval in any place in the world, simply because a diskette drive never was far away from any computer. Mid to end of the 1990ís diskette penetration reached its peak, when more than 3,5 billion diskettes were shipped every year. To offer an internal diskette drive was a must for every PC-manufacturer.
According to Brian Plummer, Executive Director Imation Europe, approximately 1.5 billion diskettes will be used worldwide in 2003, which if stacked end-to-end would encircle the world three times. With ca. 420 million pieces the European market represents roughly 27% of the global sales expected in 2003. The US-market is expected to have the same size. Sixty percent of all diskette sales in Europe will be made in only five countries: Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain. 25% of the more than 400 million pieces will go in the Eastern European markets, the remaining 15% will be spread among the other Western European countries. Small files transfer is the most common usage for diskettes, because the floppy disk has proven itself to be exceedingly reliable, inexpensive and easy to use.
Despite the decision by some PC manufacturers to remove floppy disk drives from computers, diskette sales continue to be strong. The results of a recent Imation survey among more than 2900 Internet surfers in Europe have shown, that diskettes are still an important storage product for many applications. Nearly 70% of all users stated that they still buy diskettes. "This corresponds fairly closely to our own observations", Brian Plummer explained. "Particularly in the work environment, for instance in office applications, CD-Rís are by no means a standard product yet. The results of our survey show that only 4,6% of the responding persons use CD-R purely for professional applications. We are convinced that the diskette is the only removable data storage medium used in many offices and public authorities. These are still quite adequate for many professional applications. Another reason for corporations and institutions purchasing and relying on diskettes is that for decades they have proven to be highly reliable as well as being economical."
For more information about Imation or it's products, please visit: http://www.imation.com