The Rise and Fall of the 3 1/2 Inch Disk

Jake has just unearthed a time capsule filled with forgotten disks. From this, we’ve fired up the toaster of nostalgia and created our very first set of technology coasters! The 3 1/2 inch floppy disk coaster was met with enthusiasm but what really capped it off was the Norton Antivirus boot disk – something that quickly turned into an old school collector’s item (and quickly sold). We’re sure smiley faces erupted everytime someone spotted these gems at our shelves! Thus, as Gen Z”ers look on in confusion about how ancient tech works, let us take a moment to relish all those times when floppy discs were king .

The Birth of the Diskette

In 1976, IBM released its first floppy disk drive system—the 5 ¼ inch floppy disk drive—which was quickly adopted by other manufacturers. This original variation of the floppy disk was quite large (as compared to today’s standards), but it was immediately popular due to its affordability and portability. However, it wasn’t long before people began to realize that they needed something smaller and more compact for their needs. Thus, in 1981, Sony released its own version of the floppy disk drive—the 3 ½ inch drive—and this would soon become the standard for personal computer usage until it too was replaced by USB drives and other storage media in the late 1990s.

The Golden Age

The late 1980s and early 1990s marked what could be called “the golden age” of 3 ½ inch disks. During this period, these disks were ubiquitous; almost every computer came with a built-in 3 ½ inch floppy drive, and many software programs were distributed exclusively on these types of disks (Microsoft Office being perhaps the most famous example). In fact, many computers even had special buttons dedicated solely to accessing these kinds of disks (usually labeled “FDD”). However, this era would not last forever; as CDs and DVDs became increasingly affordable and more widely available during this period, people began to move away from using floppies as their primary storage media.

The Demise

By 1998, most computers no longer came with built-in floppy drives; instead they had CD-ROM drives or DVD-ROM drives installed as standard features. By 2000, even those who still relied on floppies had largely moved on to USB flash drives or other forms of portable storage devices which were both easier to use and had much larger capacities than traditional floppies ever could hope for. As such, by 2005 all major computer manufacturers had stopped building machines that included built-in floppy drives altogether; thus ending the era of 3 ½ inch disks once and for all (or at least until some enterprising soul decides to bring them back).


Though they haven’t been around since 2005 (at least not officially), there is still something undeniably charming about 3 ½ inch floppy disks that resonates with many people today. Though they may never come back into widespread use again like they once were in their heyday during the late 1980s through early 2000s heyday, we will always remember them fondly—a reminder of simpler times when having a few megabytes on a piece of plastic was enough for us mere mortals!

Get Your Floppy Disk Coaster!

The perfect gift for anyone that remembers the 3 1/2 inch floppy. If you have one that you would like us to use, send it to us and we will custom make your own floppy disk coaster. If not, leave it to us, and we will curate one that will make you smile! Click here to order.

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