formatting MFM drives on a IBM PC

ethan at ethan at
Wed Sep 27 09:59:00 CDT 2017

> IIRC, the first time I had problems with the low level format was with one
> of the early IDE controllers and a 230MB Maxtor. Crapped out the entire
> firmware, was never able to get it to admit who it was again. Seemed to
> work okay with earlier MFM/RLL 40 MB and 80 MB Conner drives (I think, it's
> been a while).

AFAIK a lot of IDE drives store part of the firmware on the spinning disk 
in a special section of the disk. Not sure if those early models used that 
trick to cut costs or not?

The idea of IDE, as my understanding, is the controller that existed as an 
ISA card was moved onto the actual drive, and then what became the 
controller was mostly just extending the ISA bus over to the drive.

My first hard drive was a SCSI-1 ?Fuji? on a Seagate 8-bit ISA card. 
Families Tandy 1000sx. I remember in the end playing with low level 
formatting tools and interleves, then the drive dying at the same time. I 
correlated the two together then, but looking back I think the issue was 
drive motor/bearings/stuck rotation of platters.

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