3.5 Inch Floppy Disk

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What Does 3.5 Inch Floppy Disk Mean?

The 3.5-inch floppy disk size was introduced in the 1980s,
most notably with the original Apple Macintosh. The use of 3.5-inch disks soon
spread to other systems, including the Commodore Amiga, the Atari ST and the
IBM PC and clones. The first disks supported sizes up to 360 KB and 720 KB,
with later disks supporting 1.44 MB, which became the most common standard. The
term “3.5-inch disk” is used even in countries that normally use the metric system for


Techopedia Explains 3.5 Inch Floppy Disk

As with the earlier 8-inch and 5.25-inch floppies, 3.5-inch disks are divided into tracks and sectors for locating data. The disk itself, which can be double-sided, is encased in a hard plastic shell with a sliding medal cover to protect it from dirt and fingerprints. A sliding switch opens and closes a hole in the corner of the shell to write-protect the disk.

3.5-inch disks were standard for both transferring files and distributing software from the late ‘80s through the late ‘90s. They declined due to the use of writable optical media, USB drives and cloud storage. Apple’s iMac, released in 1998, heralded the decline of the 3.5-inch floppy by not including a floppy drive. Almost all computers sold today do not have floppy drives, although they are available as an aftermarket item. Even though 3.5-inch disks have passed out of use, they are still used to represent the “save” icon in many programs.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.