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Sunday, 18 August 2013

How Does it Work?

  The question as to how this device works was asked a little while ago, in that how is it possible for a single reel tape to work, when there is no other spool for the tape to wind onto? We know that Village is ahead in technology when it comes to the rest of the world. Or perhaps it is possible that another purpose of the Village is to develop technology for the rest of the world.
   As it happens after reading the question of how such a device would work, ZM72 sent me an email containing a link to the infinate loop: the Sinclair zx Microdrive from 1982.
    “Our Microdrive, when it comes out, will revolutionise mass storage thinking,” said Sinclair engineer Martin Brennan in the 18 November 1982 issue of Popular Computing Weekly after being asked about the new Sony drive. His take: yes, 3.5-inch unit was faster, but it’s the price that really matters. Of course, what Brennan couldn’t then answer was the question posed by his own comment: when would the Microdrive actually come out for people to buy?
    As 1982 came to an end, the section within Sinclair’s Spectrum advertising describing the Microdrive began to change. Ads from 1982 had described the product as a “a single interchangeable microfloppy”. But by the end of the year, that text was changed to read “a single interchangeable storage medium”. The release window went from “later this year [1982]” to “the early part of 1983”.
By the Spring of that year there was still no sign of the promised product. At least Sinclair wasn’t yet taking orders. The continuing no-show prompted Sinclair Research computer division chief Nigel Searle to issue an update: “The design has been finalised and we are now waiting for custom-made semiconductor chips - being manufactured in the UK - to arrive,” he told the press.
“The delay on the Microdrives has been the result of mechanical difficulties we had not foreseen,” he added. “These have now been solved along with an improvement in the performance of the drives. They are now much more reliable than we had hoped to achieve... The designers would like to go on and on making improvements. But a line has now been drawn.”
    "By now it was being rumoured that the Microdrive was not based on rotating disk technology, as the early advertising’s reference to a “microfloppy” had implied. Indeed, most attendees left the Spectrum launch assuming from what they’d heard that the Microdrive used some kind of diskette. Instead, it would use a “high speed tape loop”, as Your Computer put it at the time. In fact, hints that the Microdrive was not a disk system had begun to slip out much earlier, toward the end of 1982. Martin Brennan’s aforementioned comments on the introduction of the Sony 3.5-inch disk noted that “a floppy disk based system will be much faster than the Sinclair Microdrive” - a sure sign that the Sinclair offering did not, after all, use diskettes."

Be seeing you


  1. You never heard of an 8-Track cartridge?

    1. Hello Smeghead2068,
      Of course, the good old 8 Track, I had quite forgotten, thank you for reminding me. In fact one of my mates had an 8 Track in his Ford Escort back in the 1970's.

      Very kind regards