Odd floppy drives (Helitron)

Scott Stevens chenmel at earthlink.net
Sat Sep 24 13:31:15 CDT 2005

On Sat, 24 Sep 2005 10:53:39 -0700 (PDT)
Tom Jennings <tomj at wps.com> wrote:

> The oddest floppy drive I ever saw was a Helitron drive, at
> Helitron Inc, in Boston, when I worked for this little company
> CSSN, Inc. Helitron was making the wiring harness for a computer
> CSSN (attempted to) sell.
> I can't recall the guy's name, but I chatted with him about the
> drive.  He claims that he was the inventor of the basic floppy
> mechanism (circular media in an envelope mounted temporarily in a
> frame, etc) and that IBM stole it from him after meeting with
> them.  The drive I saw of his had a knob on front that selected
> the track! Apparently the drive only read/wrote within a track,
> and did not electrically select tracks.
> While I clearly remember the knob, I know or recall nothing else
> about it. I think it was in a cabinet, more-or-less 8" full size,
> vertically. Gold anodized? or painted a similar light color. Just
> a bunch of them sitting on the shelf.
> This was around 1980, maybe 1979. No idea whatever happened to
> them.  After making the CSSN box (s100, z80, BASF 6172 3-platter
> disk, Konan controller, DEI tape, Alloy Eng. interface, PDOS,
> etc), and schlepping the unreliable thing to the first COMDEX
> (1980?) I never saw them again.
> tomj
The oddest 'floppy' drive that I ever saw was a dictaphone machine that
recorded by cutting helical audio tracks like a phonograph record on a
thin 'floppy' plastic disk.  Ooops, it wasn't digital (unless you held
it in your fingers).

> Various google searches were weak, but found this address:
> 560 harrison ave
> boston 02i 18
> >From a PDF containing a little ad for them, apparently reduced to
> calculator sales/repair? I know they had fallen far, the shop was
> small, a mess, and the guy was sharp, knowledgable, and resentful
> of how he feels he was treated.
> www-tech.mit.edu/archives/VOL_095/TECH_V095_S0401_P002.pdf -
> (Lower left corner, a small ad)

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