What's a Vintage Floppy Drive?

When many hear the brand name Atari, they think of the video game console that was one of the first consoles many kids played growing up; however, the brand launched a line of computers for the home-based market in 1979 and continued making devices in this format until 1992. One of the most functional and necessary peripherals of the brand's series of home computers was the floppy drive.

What is an Atari Floppy Drive?

Most modern machines have no need for a floppy drive anymore due to the availability of other types of data-storage options, and floppy disks became obsolete many years ago; however, these vintage floppy disk drives had an important and necessary function in their time. 

  • This type of floppy disk drive is an external component, or at least early versions were. Later models had built-in drives that you could still expand storage via an external drive. This part connects to the computer via a plug-in system, like a USB input.
  • The floppy disk drive was meant to hold 5.25-inch floppy disks. There were several different versions, including an enhanced drive as well as a single-disk drive.
  • You used the drive to upload software, play games, and store data. 

What Are Some Drive Models?

Along the course of the run of these machines, there were various floppy disk drive models available. You had to use the compatible disk in your drive to ensure it would work properly, and there are different disks for different hard drives.

  • The 810 is a single-sided disk drive with 90 KB.
  • The 1050 was an upgraded later model. Called an "enhanced density" drive, the dual-density model provided a single-sided format and offered 130 KB.
  • As time progressed, so did the brand's equipment, and the XF551 hardware was a double-density design that was double-sided and offered 360 KB, which was a major upgrade from the first line of drives offered. 

What Types of Disks Are Available?

Just as there are numerous models of drives, the disks that they use can differ as well.

  • Some of the brand's disks had games on them. You could also use your computer as a gaming console, and you could even plug joysticks and controllers into it. Some games you may still come across might include Antic Miniature Golf Plus, Star Raiders II, Canyon Climber, or Antic Tournament Checkers.
  • There are also software disks that allowed you to upload new software to your machine. This could be an OS update, or something fun like Print Shop, a Graphics Library, or a reference disk that could teach your child numbers and letters. 
  • Storage disks save data to them, just as we save files and documents to our devices now. You could then pop the disk into the drive and retrieve your information. Disks had assorted storage options that were typically measured in megabytes (MB) of storage.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by Atari.