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ProDOS 2.4

A 5¼" floppy disk with ProDOS for the Apple II series.

Floppy disks or diskettes are a removable storage medium in which data is recorded onto a flexible magnetic surface. Apple has used many variants in its early history.


5¼" disks[]

Disk II

A pair of Disk II drives, with a 5¼" floppy in the bottom unit.

The original Disk II floppy drive for the Apple II series was based on a mechanism built by Shugart Associates with a controller designed by Steve Wozniak. This was succeeded by the Disk III for the Apple III which supported daisy chaining. Apple also created the DuoDisk to support two floppies with the Apple IIe and the Disk IIc, a compact mechanism for the Apple IIc. A UniDisk 5.25" was later produce to modernize the appearance of the drive for older Apple II models.[1]

An Apple 5.25 Drive (A9M0107) supported 5¼" floppies for the Apple IIe Card for the Macintosh LC.

FileWare disks[]


A FileWare disk with two exposed read areas.

Apple developed its own 5¼" format officially called FileWare, codenamed "Twiggy", after the 1960s fashion model. It was to have been introduced in the Apple III, but was not implemented until the release of the Apple Lisa. However, due to reliability problems with the drive, the Lisa 2 replaced the Twiggy mechanism with a smaller new 3½" format.[2]

3½" disks[]

Steve Jobs wanted the the new Macintosh platform to support FileWare (a.k.a. "Twiggy") disks and had working prototypes built with such a drive. However, staff who were concerned about the poor reliability of the FileWare mechanism maintained contact with Sony, which had been developing the newer 3½" format. This drive ended up being implemented in the original Macintosh 128K in 1984.[3] Apple also produced the a UniDisk 3.5" for the Apple II series.

The original 3½" disks were only read on one side and stored 400 KB. The Macintosh Plus and 512Ke supported double-sided 800 KB disks. The Macintosh IIx introduced the use of high density 1.4 MB disks which were alternatively referred to as SuperDrive and FDHD (Floppy Disk High Density).[4] Apple began discontinuing the use of floppies and other legacy technologies with the first iMac G3 in 1998.[5] Sony ended production of 3½" floppy disks in April 2010.[6]


  1. Today in Apple history: Apple II gets its first disk drive by Luke Dormehl, Cult of Mac. 2019-06-01.
  2. Apple Lisa 1 Development Unit, DigiBarn Computer Museum. Accessed 2020-04-05.
  3. Quick, Hide In This Closet! by Andy Hertzfeld, Folklore. 1983-08.
  4. Apple FDHD/SuperDrive (PDF), Apple Technical Procedures. 1989-10.
  5. #1 Temporal Loop - Birth of the iMac by Thomas Hormby, The Mac Observer. 2007-05-25.
  6. The floppy disk is dead (and Apple helped kill it) by Michael Grothaus, EnGadget. 2010-04-28.

External links[]

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