Even 25 Years Later, the Iomega Zip Is Unforgettable

The 12 months is 1995. You are caught with gradual floppy disks that only keep 1.44 MB of information. But there is an interesting new engineering: Zip drives, which can hold 100 MB and free you from floppy disks!

Now, 25 many years later, we appear back at Iomega’s Zip know-how and its heritage. Did you know some industries still use Zip drives?

Why Zip Drives Have been Enjoyable

All over again, in 1995, when in comparison with the typical floppy disk, the Zip generate felt like a revelation! It allowed men and women to back up their really hard drives and transfer large data files with ease. At launch, it retailed for about $199 (about $337 right now, when adjusted for inflation), and the disks bought for $19.95 apiece (about $34 right now.)

Zip drives were being initially readily available in two variations. 1 utilised a Home windows- or DOS-dependent PC’s parallel printer port as its interface. The other used the higher-pace SCSI interface prevalent on Apple Macintosh desktops.

Zip proved phenomenally profitable throughout its initial calendar year on the marketplace. In reality, Iomega had hassle preserving up with the need for the two drives and disks.

To rejoice its 25th birthday, let us consider a look at what built Zip so zippy, how the model modified more than time, and what finally killed it.

A Stylish Design and style

A 100 MB Iomega Zip Drive with a disk half inserted.

Compared to the criteria of the day, the primary Zip drive’s industrial style felt neat and modern day. Its deep indigo shade stood out in a planet of beige PCs and Macs. Modest and mild, the push calculated about 7.2 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches and weighed beneath one pound.

Zip’s design and style bristled with good touches, together with two sets of rubber feet, so individuals could position the travel vertically or horizontally. You inserted the electrical power plug at a proper angle. It adopted a deep channel out to the back again of the unit to protect against accidental unplugging when the travel was studying or creating information. You could see the label of an inserted disk without the need of ejecting it many thanks to a window on top rated of the travel.

Iomega later launched an interior version of the ZIP travel that in good shape in a regular 5.25-inch push bay, but the exterior versions (proven higher than) remained more well known.

The Initial Zip Disks

Three Iomega 100 MB Zip Disks.

Just after you formatted Zip’s first 100 MB disks (in MS-DOS or Home windows), they stored about 96 MB of knowledge. Measuring 4 x 4 x .25 inches, they were being only somewhat larger sized than the 3.5-inch floppies. They had a tough, rugged shell with a spring-loaded metal shutter.

Like the 3.5-inch floppy, every Zip disk contained rotating adaptable magnetic media inside of. But compared with the floppy, this disk spun at a extremely high 2,968 RPM, which authorized the considerably more rapidly facts transfer charges.

Three Measurements of Zip

The 100 MB Zip Drive, the 250 MB Zip Drive, and the 750 MB Zip Drive.

In excess of its lifespan, the Zip brand name experienced a few disk measurements. Soon after the preliminary 100 MB generate, Iomega introduced a 250 MB (above, appropriate) in 1999 for $199. In 2002, the corporation introduced the Zip 750 (above, heart) for $180. This drive utilized 750 MB disks but remained backward-appropriate with the 100 and 250 MB disks.

With the 750 MB push, Zip disks surpassed the 650 MB capability of a CD-R for the very first time. This captured notice in the push, but it arrived also late to make considerably of a difference in the market place.


The Clik! PocketZip Drive and the Clik! Deck drive.

In 1999, Iomega released Clik!—a small, pocket-sized removable storage method. It used very modest (somewhere around 2 x 2 x .7 inches) magnetic floppy disks and equally smaller drives, which include a person that suit into a standard PCMCIA card slot. Each and every disk held 40 MB of knowledge.

Just after the “click of death” on the 100 MB Zip drives unfold via the media, Iomega adjusted the name of the Clik! format to PocketZip in 2000.

The structure was meant to be made use of with tiny own digital units, such as electronic cameras and transportable music players. Having said that, thanks to opposition from rugged, compact flash media cards with no transferring pieces, Iomega’s little format never took off.

Zip Oddities

Zip drive oddities - HipZip and FotoShow

Iomega experimented with several periods to build on the Zip technologies and brand name, and diversify its products line. 1 of its most noteworthy items remains the HipZip (2001). This pocket-dimensions transportable MP3 player utilised 40 MB PocketZip disks as media. But its lackluster interface software and major competitiveness from challenging-travel-dependent gamers rendered it unsuccessful.

FotoShow (2000)—a glorified 250 MB Zip push with a composite Television output that served up still image slideshows from Zip disks—was one more attention-grabbing endeavor. It was intended for small business presentations and people today who wanted to display their spouse and children images on a Tv. When it was a clever notion, its clunky, sluggish computer software held it back.

A Graphic Design and style Killer-Application

A Zip drive on an Apple Power Mac G3.

In the late ’90s and early ’00s, quite a few of Apple’s Power Mac G3 and G4 desktop personal computers included an inner Zip generate choice. Not extended soon after launch, Zip disks observed a killer application with graphic designers (who generally utilised Macs). The disks turned the de facto normal for transferring significant-resolution artwork amongst machines or to printshops.

After most of the globe experienced neglected about Zip disks, graphic designers however normally made use of them.


A vintage ad for the Iomega ZipCD drive.

The price of a one recordable CD-R dropped from $100 to $10 all through the ’90s. By the conclusion of the ten years, you could get just one for just a handful of cents. Just about every CD-R held 650 MB of data—6.5 times additional than the regular 100 MB Zip disk.

As opposition for inexpensive CD-R drives heated up, Iomega determined to industry its personal CD-R generate under the Zip brand.

ZipCD 650 (2000) originally sold nicely, but it quickly obtained a terrible standing for unreliability. Iomega sold several other ZipCD and CD-R drives beneath other brand name names afterwards, but none could capture the sector the 100 MB Zip travel when held.

What Killed Zip Drives?

A CD-R next to a Linksys router.

The introduction of common, economical CD-R drives and media—which could be examine by any conventional CD-ROM drive—began to take in away Zip’s market share for removable backups. Organizations also begun setting up local spot networks (LANs) in ever-escalating quantities. LANs authorized huge file transfers involving equipment without the need of any removable media at all.

When compared to these new possibilities, a proprietary detachable floppy travel was much less beautiful.

In the ’00s, further opponents emerged, together with DVD-R drives, broadband web entry, and removable flash USB sticks. At that point, Zip disks had previously turn into mostly irrelevant for most men and women.

Incredibly, although, even 25 many years afterwards, Zip is not entirely dead. In accordance to Wikipedia, some aviation businesses however use Zip disks to distribute info updates for plane navigation units. For a whilst, vintage pc lovers (Atari, Mac, Commodore) also often utilized SCSI Zip drives to quickly transfer facts, despite the fact that that has now mostly been changed by flash media interfaces.

While couple of folks still use Zip media, the format did glow brightly in the 1990s. So, happy birthday, Zip!

ZIP Memories

Did you use a ZIP travel again in the day? What did you use it for? We’d love to hear about your ZIP memories—good, terrible, or otherwise—in the feedback underneath.

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