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Thread: When did major OEMs last ship systems with 5" floppy drives?

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    Question When did major OEMs last ship systems with 5" floppy drives?

    Question: When did a major PC OEM such as Dell, Compaq, or AST last offer a 5" floppy drive as a factory option?

    My own recollection is that at the dawn of the '90s, 5" disks were the rule and 3" disks were still the exception. By 1992, you could no longer count on a 5" drive being standard equipment. The trend accelerated in 1993-94 as CD-ROM drives rapidly became common; usually taking up the 5" drive bay in the process.

    When my family bought a Gateway 2000 486 system in early 1994, I distinctly remember that they still offered 5" floppy drives as an option. Our system didn't have one, though.

    If any OEMs were still offering a 5" drive in 1995, they weren't promoting them. Certainly by 1998 they were long-gone.

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    Some OEMs used combo drives (5.25"+3.5") at the end.
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    OEM shipments of 5.25" drives continued through 1999, according to Disk Trend. 1995 would be the last year of large sales by OEMs (3.5 million units out of 5.6 million). By 1999, total 5.25" drive production was a mere 21 thousand of which 16,000 went to OEMs.

    Just for comparison, 3.5" drive shipments went from 75 million in 1995 to about 120 million in 1999.
    Last edited by krebizfan; December 7th, 2017 at 04:53 PM.

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    Thanks for the figures. New 5" floppy drives were still being sold to OEMs at the late date of 1999? I learn something new everyday!

    It must have been exclusively smaller, "system builder" OEMs by that point. I can't imagine that Dell or Compaq was offering them (though I'd love to be proven wrong)...and in fact, by 2000 Dell was shipping systems with a bane of a BIOS that only supported one floppy drive.

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    I wonder if those OEMs were PC manufacturers, or if they were in more niche industries. Old technology tends to hang around in the industrial sector a lot longer. You could buy CNC machine tools in the late 90s that still had 5.25" drives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew T. View Post
    Thanks for the figures. New 5" floppy drives were still being sold to OEMs at the late date of 1999? I learn something new everyday!

    It must have been exclusively smaller, "system builder" OEMs by that point. I can't imagine that Dell or Compaq was offering them (though I'd love to be proven wrong)...and in fact, by 2000 Dell was shipping systems with a bane of a BIOS that only supported one floppy drive.
    Dell and Compaq(HP today) have divisions that handles OEM builds which will keep making machines with out of date hardware for many many years after they have stopped publicly shipping systems. At work for one of our appliance products we had a 5 year old model still being produced by dell for our customers till we decided it was cheaper to update our platform support than pay premium for old technology.

  7. #7

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    I've trawled through magazine after magazine of infoworld and pc mag and as far as I can tell the general trend was:

    1992: year the 3.5" drive became the dominant drive
    1994: most new systems sold without a 5.25 drive

    This is based mostly on images of systems for sale in their default configurations. It would appear that once the large OEMs were offering the small pizzabox systems like the Compaq 386n in volume, it made little sense to standardize on 5.25" disks for software installation within a corporation. But this is just a general trend, YMMV.
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    Disk Trend used OEM for drives that were sold as part of complete systems. The figures used exclude drives used for specialty equipment so CNC machines, sewing machines, or synths were not counted. Does make estimating production totals of the spiral drives and the 40 track 3.5" drives much harder.

    IBM sold the external 5.25" drive until the end of the PS/2 server line. With other vendors, the 5.25" drive was a special order not listed in the short public catalogs. Usage of 5.25" drives was higher than the production numbers suggest since many companies scavenged old drives when ATs and XTs were decommissioned.

    $100 5.25" drives were too expensive to include in the under $500 market and some unfortunate designs precluded the use of 5.25" drives in systems that would otherwise have one. I have a Pentium II where it is impossible to run a cable to both the 3.5" drive and the only bay that could take a 5.25" floppy drive.

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