My first floppy diskette – a single-sided, double density 5.25″ Verbatim

The brand name Verbatim invokes a magical feeling within me, even until today. 

My first floppy disks for the 6502, 1Mhz Apple ][ running Apple DOS 3.3 were a pair of two black-sleeve encased floppy diskettes in their hard cardboard pink-holders. Each one cost $12 at the time, a minor fortune for a school kid in 1981. And yes, I still have them. They contained so many delights in the forms of games and utilities as well as programmes I wrote using BASIC and the 6502 machine code (hmm that had us 'poking' before facebook). 

I think it was my classmate Colin Nah who persuaded me to join the St. Andrew's Secondary School Apple ][ computer club. Later it was the Serangoon Gardens Community Centre gave me space and time to explore programming and world of Apple ][ in the company of neighbourhood kids – a couple of whom were geeks and information exchange was a lovely thing. By 1983,  I had  conducted my first course at the CC for younger kids from the neighbourhood with the help of my friends. Although we were course instructors, we had not been formally taught but had read, experimented and learnt from peers, teaching each other quite a bit. Until the night guard chased us out after 10pm.

I remember slotting these diskettes in to box-like external floppy drives called Disk II. Although single-sided, these Verbatim 5-1/4 disks were double density and thus error-free even when you forced their use as double-sided disks. this as accomplished by cutting out a copy-protection slot in the side with a penknife, like I had done with this first diskette. Later I learnt from some older kid that simply using a paper puncher would do. Well that doubled the value of the resource. 

Of course, the price of 5.25" disks would eventually plummet, well and when I reached my 10th diskette, they were cheaper. 

I think there were ?40 tracks in each diskette which contained data. Vaguely memories depict a programme reading data sectors on a flickering green screen  I think it was called Locksmith. It helped you examine the actual content of each track –  while the first one or two? were used for system software which made a disk bootable, you could write over these in a non-bootable data disk and recover the space. I have hazy memories of the kid who introduced me to Locksmith.

The Apple 16 sticker was meant for 16kb RAM cards which could be slotted in to the flexible Apple ][ motherboard (a Wozniak classic of elegance and possibilities) – someone had handed these out to us eager school kids like candy. I still have unused stickers which I paste on my current macs every now and then to remind me of the good  times of exploration and discovery. Otherwise,merely spotting the brand name Verbatim in its distinctive font is enough to trigger some good vibrations.


6 thoughts on “My first floppy diskette – a single-sided, double density 5.25″ Verbatim

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  2. Yes, I remember all that. Hole-punching floppies and swapping discs out of those tissue box-sized hard drives. Seemed like centuries ago.

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  4. Just the image of the Verbatim floppy was so overwhelming…

    I suddenly remembered, after 30 years, that we could tape the recording slot to avoid accidental erasing.

    Man… thanks for the memories!

    Remember Nibble magazine?

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