Accessing your floppy drive from your Android phone

Written by Andy Stout


We stumbled across this picture on Imgur of an Android phone accessing a 3.5 inch floppy drive via a USB cable and it got us thinking.

To date, most of the people that have enjoyed talking about the interconnectedness of all things have either been firmly from the New Age tradition or futurologists looking ahead to a 5G-powered Internet of Things and rhapsodising about the changes it will bring.

Seeing an android phone powering a floppy drive is perhaps a reminder that there's another aspect to all this: all you need is the right driver, in this case a floppy disk drive with a USB interface, and you can interconnect most anything. Oh, and cabling, lots of cabling. Many a homebrew attempt at technological archeology has floundered due to the lack of the right male and female parts, so to speak.

But the phone has no understanding that it is connected to an antiquated piece of technology. As far as it is concerned it's just a data source and there is enough commonality across the past few decades of computer equipment, both in terms of hardware and code, for it all to work.

Indeed, if you delve into any discussions about dark data and the efforts that are going into mining file archives that are held in now moribund formats, it tends to be the lumpen physical connection that is the challenge. Once that is overcome, the data can be accessed.

Of course, whether it's worth the effort is another question entirely. If memory serves, a 3.5 inch floppy disc used to hold 1.44MB once you'd formatted it. Funnily enough, looking on Amazon it seems the price of a USB floppy drive, a 16GB microSD card, and a 10-pack of 3.5 inch floppies are all now about the same, between £5-6. So, if you really want to see if you can get that copy of Doom you found in your parent's attic to run on your phone via DOSBox, it's not going to cost you too much to attempt it. But you'd have to spend over £5000 on floppies to store the same amount of information as the microSD card holds. And it would take up a bit more space...

Tags: Technology


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