In The 1980s, Computer Hobbyists Would Double The Capacity Of Floppy Disks With?
Answer: Hole Punches
If you’re a geek of a certain vintage (and a frugal one at that), then you’ll be rather familiar with today’s bit of trivia: the use of a punch tool to double your floppy disk storage capacity.
For everyone else, a bit of explanation is in order. Back in the 1980s, floppy disks were, originally, single-sided. The disk went into the drive in one orientation and there was a little read/write protect tab on the disk that, if open, indicated to the drive that the disk was ready to be written to. Later, double-sided floppy disks were introduced and many people realized something: the single-sided disks could have been used as double-sided disks all along. All you had to do was punch a read/write notch on the other side of the disk, flip it over, and you were in business.
Sure, using a single-sided disk as a double-sided disk was risky (the sold-as-double-sided disks were usually better quality since they were designed for the extra storage and the wear and tear), but that didn’t stop a niche market from popping up: disk punches that were designed to nip a little rectangle of plastic off the sleeve of a single-sided disk and trick the drive into reading it on both sides. Such tools went by names like “Disk Doubler” or, seen here, “The Notcher”. Today, outside of a computer museum or a dusty box found in the corner of a basement or old IT building, you won’t be finding many floppy disks or disk punchers around.
Image courtesy of Suncom.