XP Format 720K Floppy

Discussion in 'macOS' started by combatcolin, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #1
    Got a load of old blank Floppy discs lying around from my AMiga days and would like to use them as a cheap alternative to a blank CD.

    Anyway, XP won't let me format them to the old (VERY OLD!:p ) 720K format.

    Any ideas?

    Or was it 800K for low density?, Can't remember.
    The Amiga standard was 880K.
     
  2. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #2
    Yikes, floppies themselves are pretty much antiquated these days - I don't think there's anyway to format them to that old 720K format... just trying to remember if there's a switch in DOS's FORMAT comand or not for that... you might be SOL. :(
     
  3. combatcolin thread starter macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #3
    Found 2 old trays of them when i was moving house, have a few friends who have yet to get on line so handy for that.

    Parents found them hidden in the spare room, think they have been there for about a decade..
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #4
    IIRC it was 720K DOS/800K Mac/880K Amiga.

    You could probably get by with a boot disk from http://www.bootdisks.org and the switch info at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q96769/. Format them in DOS and use them in XP.

    Or boot a live linux distro (Knoppix?) and fdformat them to your heart's content, then use them in XP.

    B
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #5
    I thought that when you choose to format using the GUI in Windows, that there is a pull-down that asks which disk format you want...I think it should let you do 720k. The hardware is certainly supposed to be backwards compatible.

    But god...you're bringing back memories. Wasn't there something like some sort of device that let you punch an extra hole in the disks, and then you could try and get away with using 720k floppies as if they were DS/HD? I think we used to have onesuch. :eek:
     
  6. iEdd macrumors 68000

    iEdd

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    #6
    No matter what you do from here, it's so much easier, faster, more efficient, more reliable and more sensible to just by a spindle of cd-rs. Or one single cd-r for that matter :p
    Providing you have a cd burner.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    #7
    No such luck, at least on XPSP2 the pulldown only offers 1.44MB.

    format.png

    FORMAT.COM has also been neutered. See /F below.

    Code:
    C:\>format /?
    Formats a disk for use with Windows XP.
    
    FORMAT volume [/FS:file-system] [/V:label] [/Q] [/A:size] [/C] [/X]
    FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/F:size]
    FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors]
    FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q]
    FORMAT volume [/Q]
    
      volume          Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon),
                      mount point, or volume name.
      /FS:filesystem  Specifies the type of the file system (FAT, FAT32, or NTFS).
      /V:label        Specifies the volume label.
      /Q              Performs a quick format.
      /C              NTFS only: Files created on the new volume will be compressed
                      by default.
      /X              Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary.  All opened
                      handles to the volume would no longer be valid.
      /A:size         Overrides the default allocation unit size. Default settings
                      are strongly recommended for general use.
                      NTFS supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K.
                      FAT supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                      (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
                      FAT32 supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                      (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
    
                      Note that the FAT and FAT32 files systems impose the
                      following restrictions on the number of clusters on a volume:
    
                      FAT: Number of clusters <= 65526
                      FAT32: 65526 < Number of clusters < 4177918
    
                      Format will immediately stop processing if it decides that
                      the above requirements cannot be met using the specified
                      cluster size.
    
                      NTFS compression is not supported for allocation unit sizes
                      above 4096.
    
      /F:size         Specifies the size of the floppy disk to format (1.44)
      /T:tracks       Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.
      /N:sectors      Specifies the number of sectors per track.
    
    B
     
  8. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #8
    Damn MS, what have you done to my DOS?!? I used to love using DOS... :(
     
  9. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #9
    Interesting question from a purely technical standpoint, but...

    For a guy who owns a 24" widescreen monitor, your time sure must come cheap. Seriously, the time involved in formatting and copying to/from a stack of floppies for any files over a few KB is mind-blowing. More importantly, those floppies were never very reliable to begin with, and after sitting in a box for a decade I'd be impressed if any of them don't have a bunch of bad sectors (assuming they work at all).

    So when you combine the time spend formatting, copying, reading, then re-reading files that got corrupted the first time through, it sure seems like a blank CD that costs a quarter (or a $20 pendrive that you can use for years) is a better deal.

    What is it you're trying to sneakernet with these things?
     
  10. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #10
    DOS doesn't live there any more. It's emulated.

    I believe that Mac OS X has never supported the 720 KB format with the various floppy drives, even for reading.
     
  11. ~Shard~ macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #11
    Yeah, I know, I gotta learn how to let go.. :eek: ;)

    Yeah, you're probably right on that one.

    Geez, I can't believe I'm participating in a discussion regarding floppy discs - what's next, light pens? :eek: :cool:
     
  12. fartheststar macrumors 6502a

    fartheststar

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    Vancouver
    #12
    Had a friend who's dad was cheap.

    He drilled a hole in the other side of the 720 disks (where the 2nd hole on the 1.44 is) because he heard that then he could format them at 1.44. Well, he did do the drilling and it worked, at least on some of the disks I "borrowed" back in the day. So 90 720's later, he doubled his storage capacity ... apparently.

    Gave me a good laugh at what someone would do to save a few cents. :D
     
  13. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    #13
    Heh... that reminds me of 5.25" floppies; they sold cheaper one sided ones, but you could take a hole punch and chip a piece out of the other side where the 2-sided disks had a notch, and BINGO! Instant 2-sided disk.

    I (or my dad, really) used to do that all the time with our Apple //c, and never once did it cause problems. I wonder if the 1-sided disks were just rebranded 2-sided ones, or if theoretically there were defects on the other side that just never cropped up on the ones we messed with?
     
  14. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #14
    I could talk about those for my Atari 8-bit computers. I have one light pen and one light gun that came with the game Bug Hunt. :D

    It's also funny that people made thousands of dollars by developing and manufacturing punches to aloow you to use the back side of 5.25 inch floppies. I remember how people cried when they lost their data because they had gone with cheap floppies to save money, too, and the cheaper the less likely they were to maintain the magnetic coating on the other side.
     
  15. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

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    Oct 15, 2003
    #15
    That could well be. Starting with MacOS 8, support for the ancient single-sided 400K diskettes was dropped, even if the hardware could read and write to them. (My elderly 7100/80 will deal with 400K diskettes if I reboot into System 7 but not under OS 8).

    The only floppy drive I've got for my OS X PowerBook is an expansion bay floppy drive, which only works if I reboot into MacOS 9 (yes, it's that old). So I could not even testify that OS X will read a floppy of any format or density.

    The 720 K format was strictly MS-DOS. The Mac did indeed use the 800 K format for double-density (DD) floppies, which PCs cannot read, and the Amiga used the 880 K format, which neither Macs nor PCs can read, regardless of operating system.
     
  16. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    #16
    There used to be an ISA card you could get which would allow you to use them.

    Anyway, try formatting the disk with:
    Code:
    format a: /t:80 /n:9
     
  17. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #17
    This is not true. MacOS X 10.4.3 reads the MS-DOS formatted 720 KB disk in my USB floppy drive just fine.
     
  18. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #18
    You're the lucky one. I gave up on getting information from my 720 KB floppies years ago because Mac OS X wouldn't read them. You'll find a few threads on the inability to read 2DD floppies in the archives.

    Can you format one with your drive?

    Add Atari ST and GEMDOS to the list, along with the 8-bit MS-DOS compatible MSX-DOS which were both based on 180/360/720 KB formats on 3.5 inch diskettes. There was a clever scheme for the game StarGlider 2 which provided the code for the Atari ST and Amiga versions on one 2DD diskette.

    Apple's GCR (Group Coded Recording) scheme was quite ingenious and provided a consistent speed despite where the heads were across the floppy's surface. CAV (Constant Angular Velocity), right? As far as I remember, Apple used a less extreme method for the support of 1.44 MB diskettes and never supported any 2.88 MB, but then, who outside of Toshiba did?
     
  19. combatcolin thread starter macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #19

    Moved house on Friday the 2nd December and have only just got NTL to sort everything out as of yesterday.

    Think i may have been suffering from WOW withdrawal - as soon as i was back on line i was back in Ashenvale!

    Anyway, i wanted to show my mate a funny pic of this girl one of my friends used to go out with, 30K and didn't want to waste a CDR and don't have his e mail address yet.

    Finally managed to format the disc, downloaded a shareware program that did it.
     
  20. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #20
    Yes. Disk Utilities recognizes my MS-DOS formatted 720 KB disk (aka DS/DD) as FAT12. After archiving it, I used Disk Utilities to reformat the floppy as FAT12. There is also an option to format it as MS-DOS without the FAT12 designation. I am not sure what that is about.

    The biggest challenge facing anyone trying to format DS/DD floppies on the Mac is finding the DS/DD floppies. I have only used floppies for SneakerNet file transfers with my Windows-using colleagues since I bought my 266 MHz Beige G3 back in 1998. I stopped using DS/DD floppies long before then. I suspect that the reason you and others have had trouble with DS/DD disks on MacOS X is that the things are old and have gone bad. I can attest to the fact that if the DS/DD floppy is good, then MacOS X can read and write it.
     
  21. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #21
    Considering that I was using them in Mac OS 9 one day (and two days later) and couldn't use them in Mac OS X the next, I'd say that they hadn't gone bad. They still work fine with the Atari ST but I wanted my source code. Oh well.
     
  22. jbernie macrumors 6502a

    jbernie

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    #22
    Keep in mind there is Double Density and High Density floppies, which may affect the ability to read some and not others.

    Anyways, if it wasn't for you wanting to show a friend a 30kb file..my format command would be.....

    open trash can
    deposit tray 1
    deposit tray 2
    close trash can

    Overall relying on floppy discs that have sat unused for 10 years is like asking a stranger to hold a $20 bill while you go to the bathroom. Some may do it, some may not, but it isnt easy to determine.

    The various usb "key" storage devices and such are more desirable and reliable.

    This certainly brings back memories of the C=64 and early pc's. Good times!
     
  23. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Nermal:
    True. I should have said that no PC can read 800K diskettes using native equipment. I bet you'd have an interesting time of it locating one of those cards! (I just gave away a DaynaFile, a 360 K 5.25" drive for the Macintosh, which would be the inverse. One would normally say that Macs never read 5.25" floppies. Probably not too many of those things lying around any more either)


    Yep, GCR rocked :)

    I still remember how the drive-pitch would change as the heads would seek (or write) to different parts of the disk. And those disks weren't error-prone like the 1.4 MB diskettes. (And yeah, Apple switched to MFM format, just like PCs use, for hi-density, which is why constant-speed PC floppy drives can read hi-density Mac drives given the right software such as MacDrive). I've still got the first floppy disk I ever owned, an 800K diskette which contains a book I wrote back in my undergrad days. I admit I haven't used it all that much over the years, but it got plenty of wear and tear and edits for awhile there (in fact, until it ceased to have sufficient room, it had a System Folder and MacWrite 4.6 on it).

    I remember how MacTools could scavenge GCR diskettes much more successfully than MFM diskettes. They had redundant info about tracks and sectors that make it easier to parse partial disk information even when media errors hosed the disk.
     

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