formatting MFM drives on a IBM PC

allison allisonportable at
Wed Sep 27 11:29:36 CDT 2017

On 9/27/17 12:04 PM, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:
> On 26 September 2017 at 21:33, Phil Blundell via cctalk
> <cctalk at> wrote:
>> Low-level formatting (which, at the time, was just called "formatting")
>> used to be quite a routine operation on ST-506 MFM and RLL hard disks.
>> They usually came completely blank from the factory and you had to
>> format them according to whatever sector layout and interleave your
>> particular controller wanted before they were usable.  Once the drive
>> was formatted you then had to run a separate process to lay out an
>> actual filesystem.
> All true, although by the time I entered the industry in 1988 or so,
> it was normal for drives to ship low-level formatted, at least.
> I remember that Netware came with a special tool called COMPSURF to do
> a "comprehensive surface analysis".
> There's still a passing mention of this here:
Everyone forgets Norton Utilities...

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