VOGONS


Who here has heard of this drive? :)

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First post, by SBLive

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Not sure where exactly to post this, but here's my most prized retro obscurity - the Avatar Shark 250. It uses 2.5" removable "Hardiskettes" that hold 250MB each. The drive inside is IDE and two interface cables were available that converted the drive to either PCMCIA or parallel port. A SCSI cable was announced in early 1998 but never released. The drive was sold for only a year and a half before the company went bankrupt in September 1998. Before the external model, the company tried to market the drive as an internal drive for laptops and desktops to be sold in OEM systems. They even had a really cool combo Shark/FDD combo drive that I could not find anywhere. The drive and disk format were originally conceived in 1989/1990 and patented in 1992 with an original capacity of 85MB. They later upped the capacity to 130MB, 170MB, 210MB, and finally 250MB. (The Post-It note was for the r/retrobattlestations Obscure Storage contest.)

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Reply 2 of 28, by Horun

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Interesting and nice collection. By mid 1990's they would have competed with Iomega which had contracts with Apple and many OEM PC for including a backup ZIP drive. By 1998 things were shifting to CDR and they all sort of failed.... ;p

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 3 of 28, by SBLive

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Grzyb wrote on 2021-10-13, 23:35:

HDD, but with removable platters?
That would be the same idea as in Syquest...

There were many removable HDD systems. This one tried to be the smallest, it was marketed towards laptop owners.

Reply 4 of 28, by SBLive

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Horun wrote on 2021-10-14, 00:51:

Interesting and nice collection. By mid 1990's they would have competed with Iomega which had contracts with Apple and many OEM PC for including a backup ZIP drive. By 1998 things were shifting to CDR and they all sort of failed.... ;p

Yeah, by the time they released this in late 1996 the removable media market was already saturated with a hundred different formats, and by 1997 CD-R had already become the de-facto king. Had this come out in, say, 1994, to compete with the ZIP drive, it might have seen more success.

My personal favorite in that format war was SuperDisk, since it could replace your regular floppy drive and was just cooler than Zip, since it was floptical - a super-high density floppy drive with laser-guided heads.

Reply 5 of 28, by hyoenmadan

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SBLive wrote on 2021-10-14, 00:55:

There were many removable HDD systems. This one tried to be the smallest, it was marketed towards laptop owners.

Syquest's, Jazz'es, REV's. Unfortunately, past certain platter density, all them face reliability problems, as you never can get any removable sealed enough as would be with normal HDDs.

Reply 6 of 28, by SBLive

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hyoenmadan wrote on 2021-10-14, 01:37:
SBLive wrote on 2021-10-14, 00:55:

There were many removable HDD systems. This one tried to be the smallest, it was marketed towards laptop owners.

Syquest's, Jazz'es, REV's. Unfortunately, past certain platter density, all them face reliability problems, as you never can get any removable sealed enough as would be with normal HDDs.

Yep, and these Avatar drives are notoriously bad with this. One speck of dust can permanently destroy the drive's heads and it will never ever read a disk again.

Reply 8 of 28, by lolo799

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Very interesting, thanks!
What OSes are the drivers for?

SBLive wrote on 2021-10-13, 23:15:

The drive and disk format were originally conceived in 1989/1990 and patented in 1992 with an original capacity of 85MB.

Syquest had a 80MB cartridge PCMCIA drive planned in 1993, but cancelled it before release.

PCMCIA Sound, Storage & Graphics

Reply 9 of 28, by retardware

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I am using IcyDocks on my computers. Very convenient imho.
This solution is apparently getting out of fashion, too.

Well, most people use Windows.
And Windows 10 is so genial that one can destroy an installation by just accidentally attempting to boot it from another SATA port.
So I guess nowadays swappable drives are restricted to retards who are too retarded to even manage to avoid Windows 10 self-destructing and thus have resort to unixoids, using Windows in VMs only with easy-to-clone-and-throw-away container images.

Thus I guess the market for such "swappable drives"has become just too small.

Reply 10 of 28, by Error 0x7CF

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retardware wrote on 2021-10-14, 08:28:

So I guess nowadays swappable drives are restricted to retards who are too retarded to even manage to avoid Windows 10 self-destructing and thus have resort to unixoids, using Windows in VMs only with easy-to-clone-and-throw-away container images.

Hey, I resemble that remark. I only overwrote my C: drive using Win32DiskImager 3 times, about once a year, before I switched to Linux. Not really as a result of any fault of my own, it kept writing to C: instead of A: even when I had A: selected...

There's a decent number of external USB 2.0/3.0/etc docks out there, I think the internal ones fell out of fashion (even among power users) at some point. Why hotswap a drive internally when you can just plug in a 8TB backup drive over USB? If you only need to take a backup of an external drive, the external docks work perfectly well, and I guess there's no real reason you couldn't just leave the disk in the external dock. A lot of modern cases also lack 5.25" bays entirely, which I will never understand. I will always want at least a few 5.25" bays, even if just for the fun toys you can put in them (like little drawers, and additional air intake fans).

Old precedes antique.

Reply 11 of 28, by Grzyb

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SBLive wrote on 2021-10-14, 00:57:

My personal favorite in that format war was SuperDisk, since it could replace your regular floppy drive and was just cooler than Zip, since it was floptical - a super-high density floppy drive with laser-guided heads.

You mean that Zip isn't laser servo?
I thought all the floppies 20 MB and larger use a laser...

Reply 12 of 28, by SBLive

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Grzyb wrote on 2021-10-14, 10:20:
SBLive wrote on 2021-10-14, 00:57:

My personal favorite in that format war was SuperDisk, since it could replace your regular floppy drive and was just cooler than Zip, since it was floptical - a super-high density floppy drive with laser-guided heads.

You mean that Zip isn't laser servo?
I thought all the floppies 20 MB and larger use a laser...

Nope. Nothing to do with floptical.

Zip is just just plain old embedded servo where positioning information is embedded on the disk and read by the read/write head.

Zip is basically a shrunk down and simplified Bernoulli drive. If you look at the guts, you'll see the heads are tiny, basically like hard disk heads. No space for a laser there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW7HKP100zI

SuperDisk on the other hand has optical positioning information etched into the disk substrate and a laser that tracks it and guides the read/write heads.

Reply 13 of 28, by BitWrangler

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I remember seeing them, I remember the price remaining eyewatering... I believe it was cheaper to get removable HDD cases and swap HDDs in and out.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 14 of 28, by hyoenmadan

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-10-14, 12:43:

I remember seeing them, I remember the price remaining eyewatering... I believe it was cheaper to get removable HDD cases and swap HDDs in and out.

Maybe today, but back then wasn't. Specially for mobile usage, as this one was targeted to, and yes, even with the prices for this sort of things. People tends to forget how costly HDDs were not many years ago.

Reply 16 of 28, by retardware

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Error 0x7CF wrote on 2021-10-14, 08:53:

There's a decent number of external USB 2.0/3.0/etc docks out there, I think the internal ones fell out of fashion (even among power users) at some point. Why hotswap a drive internally when you can just plug in a 8TB backup drive over USB? If you only need to take a backup of an external drive, the external docks work perfectly well, and I guess there's no real reason you couldn't just leave the disk in the external dock.

You are completely right!
And you just made me decide to put in a VIA SATA/eSATA/USB card into the only free PCI slot of my ongoing Am 5x86-PR75 build.
So no 1GBit Intel Pro 1000GT network card, but instead an old but good SMC ISA card. Will be completely sufficient for synchronizing time and occasional file transfers.
Well, disk imaging over network would be slow, but this can be done easily with SATA drive in the IcyDock 😀

Error 0x7CF wrote on 2021-10-14, 08:53:

A lot of modern cases also lack 5.25" bays entirely, which I will never understand. I will always want at least a few 5.25" bays, even if just for the fun toys you can put in them (like little drawers, and additional air intake fans).

Inspired from your post, I searched a while for a 5.25 drawer bay.
It would be so cool to be able to stash boot diskettes and CDs/DVDs in a drawer in a 5.25" bay!
Any idea whether such things actually exist?

Reply 17 of 28, by BitWrangler

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hyoenmadan wrote on 2021-10-14, 13:27:
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-10-14, 12:43:

I remember seeing them, I remember the price remaining eyewatering... I believe it was cheaper to get removable HDD cases and swap HDDs in and out.

Maybe today, but back then wasn't. Specially for mobile usage, as this one was targeted to, and yes, even with the prices for this sort of things. People tends to forget how costly HDDs were not many years ago.

Nope, you're thinking 1995, which is why it was released too late, by 1997 storage prices really began to slide, you could have a 1 gig for $100, and 4GB for $150 by late in the year, meanwhile the Shark cost $250 for the drive, and $99 for a three pack of media. There's not really a lot to a removable drive bay and you could find those for $20 even back then, I know, I bought one around then. So if you wanted 3 backups, old, new and offsite, you could buy 3 1GB drives, I mean you could get 540s for 80 odd bucks if you were being that tight on a per unit basis, or stretch to 4GB if you want more capacity per dollar, anyway, you'd get $30 change vs the Shark and carts, even then you could expand your pool $100 per 1GB buying HDD or $99 per 750Mb buying Shark carts, or for price of 2 packs of Sharks, get an 8GB by then. Meanwhile CD writers had just crossed south of a Shark drive price and media was dropping below a buck fifty for approx the same capacity as sharks gave you for $99. Maybe you rewrote data a lot, daily maybe, and wanted a weeks worth of backups, well the year and a half it took Shark to fail in the market is almost as long as the payback time vs using one time CDRs, and now your source of media for future expansion, and guarantee of having a working drive to read the data you got is kaput, yup, huge bargain.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 18 of 28, by Matth79

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I nearly got Syquest EZ135 - found a supply of media in a computer fair bargain box, and wandered ebay etc. looking for a drive
Also nearly got a Panasonic PD, and also kicked myself for not buying a case with a drive I fancied, a rare dual 5 1/4 - 3 1/2 in a single HH form factor

Reply 19 of 28, by Error 0x7CF

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retardware wrote on 2021-10-14, 17:17:

Inspired from your post, I searched a while for a 5.25 drawer bay.
It would be so cool to be able to stash boot diskettes and CDs/DVDs in a drawer in a 5.25" bay!
Any idea whether such things actually exist?

They do! Here's one on Amazon, but there's loads from other brands as well: https://www.amazon.com/IOCrest-Storage-Drawer … 01LY3YDLN&psc=1
I don't remember if there are beige ones, but there probably are.
One of my PCs has a "CD-Home" in its drive bay. I don't remember where it's from but it's a drawer that securely holds 8 CDs, in a fashion similar to a CD folder. I couldn't find any source for them that looked reputable (and couldn't figure out how to get the search terms right on eBay to find a picture)

Old precedes antique.