Multi-platform distribution format (Was: Backups [was

Jerome H. Fine jhfinedp3k at
Sun Sep 20 19:11:06 CDT 2015

 >Chuck Guzis wrote:

> >On 09/20/2015 03:03 PM, Fred Cisin wrote:
>> >On Sun, 20 Sep 2015, ben wrote:
>>> I was just digging in to old CP/M a bit and it was/is tied mostly
>>> to the IBM 8" standard floppy and the floppy interface used at the
>>> time. Even that gave a very small amount memory per track. Ben. 
>> single sided FM/SD 77 tracks, 26 sectors per track, 128 bytes per
>> sector 256,256 bytes (250.25K) 
> There was a good reason for that.
> Many early disk controllers did not have a "write index to index" 
> fucntion that also enabled writing special (i.e. missing clocks) 
> characters.  As a result, one had to purchase 8" floppies 
> pre-formatted (this actually persisted for quite some time).  IBM 3740 
> format was the most common format out there; hence the easiest to obtain.

You bring up a VERY notable lack of support by DEC of that

For both the DEC  RX01 and the DEC  RX02 8" floppy drives,
while it might have been possible that DEC engineers were unable
to initially figure out how to allow users to perform an LLF (Low
Level Format) on the 8" floppy drives, it seems certain that after
3rd party manufactures figured out, DEC could also have supported
that function as well.

Instead, DEC pretended that all 8" floppy media HAD to be
purchased PRE-FORMATTED from DEC.  Well, if you
ever discussed that option with a DEC person, it certainly
did not seem like the individual was pretending.

After I managed to locate a DSD (Data Systems Design)
drive which supported the DEC  RX02 floppy drive function,
it was game over for that particular DEC monopoly.  The
DSD drive was able to perform an LLF for either single
density or double density in addition to being both single
sided and double sided.

Note that the RX50 was the same.  DEC finally changed
their marketing policy with the RX33 drive which used the
same 3.5" HD floppy media as the PC.  It was actually
possible to FORMAT those floppies under RT-11.

Jerome Fine

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