dvd3000.ca / computers / old school hard drives

As you might know, I like hard drives, because I store a lotta data! But throughout my years of collecting old computer junk from thrift stores, craigslist, your dads garage, and the side of the road, I've run across quite a few vintage hard drives.

I've always been sort of fascinated by the vintage hard drives. Just the clicking noise and spinning disk, the uniqueness and differences in manufacturers drive styles, and the fact that after all these years, some of 'em are still kicking.

I know all about using a CF card in place of an old HDD in an old PC, but it's just not the same. There's no life to it. When I start up my old PC I like to hear the revving up of the disk, and hear click away while booting, almost like I can hear my computer think. In my old PC's, I use quite a few standard ol' HDDs from 100mb - 10gb. Anything 10GB or less I consider to be "vintage" essentially. I do drive health checks and backups often, and these old disks have been running fine in occasional use for years still today.

I know the reliability is questionable, but so is anything in such an old PC, and part of using an old PC is the experience, and without a mechanical HDD, you're not really getting the experience.

One thing I've found fascinating of these old drives is the uniqueness in drive styles, and the weird old drives that stand out. A lot of these drives you can immediatley identify just from the general shape, style, or sound they make.

Things were pretty wild back then. Back in the late 90's, we were about to break past the barrier into the double digits of GB's, trying to cram more data into 31/2 inches than ever before. But then, one HDD manufacturer, Quantum, thought "instead of cramming more into this small space, why don't we just... use more space?". The Quantum Bigfoot was born.

These drives were cheap and slow, and often found themselves in OEM PCs from HP, like mine was. These drives, with their 51/4 size were the best cost per megabyte you could get. Putting it up to a regular 31/2 in, or 2 in drive, it's colossal, and almost hilarious. I had it sitting around my room for a while, and when I had some friends over, I liked to show it around. "you've seen a 31/2 drive before, BUT"

I ended up putting the drive in my DOS machine, because for such a weird mish-mash mess of a machine, they just fit well together.

I've heard a lot about Quantum drives, and I hear all the time on the retroPC forums n' stuff, that Quantums are bad drives. I don't really wanna talk up my hard drives too much, in fear jinxing all of this, but (knock on wood!), every Quantum HDD I have run into is still working, and flawlessly at that! Never have I even run into a bad sector on a Quantum drive, like I have with my Seagates, Conners, Maxtors and Fujitsus (strangely, I haven't run into a WD that fell under my definition of "vintage" yet.)

Yep, even this ol' thing is still kicking. No, that's not a SCSI drive from a Classic Mac (if it was, I would have sold it for $100), that's a Quantum ProDrive 80AT, an 80MB IDE hard drive from 1988. I picked up a box of used hard drives from craigslist, and this wasn't even in the ad, it was just sitting at the bottom of the box. I figured it was dead, but just to see, I hooked it up, and right away, there it is! With MS DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1, and file dates from the early to late 90's. Looking at the files, the PC it was in appeared to have been used for programming EEPROMs.

That's another thing, just from a hard drive, you can piece together the history of a PC, and of the owner as well.

Our computers are really extensions of ourselves. The both of you learn so much about each other over the years (well, your computer learns more), and then when it's time to toss out your PC after years of loyal service, you leave it on the side of the road for some stupid teenager on a bike to bring home.

I've picked up lots of PCs, and a bunch of loose hard drives, and I always investigate the past of all of them.

I've got random people's data from the late 80's to the mid 2010s, and you won't (or will) believe the stuff people leave on their PCs. I could definitley commit identity fruad on 15 different people, but I won't because that's not funny. Instead, just know, that some random teenager is using an unflattering picture of you from 2008 as a reaction image on Discord.

Here's just a taste of what I've found:

- a 486 that was used from 1994 - 2012 on a farm in Quebec!
- a list of names, addresses and phone numbers
- over 10 years of tax returns
- over 5 different peoples collection of personal photos
- a PC that was owned by 8 computer illiterates from 1995 - 2006
- 1 gigabyte of 90's porn
- browser history from Dec 31, 1999 @ 11:59 PM
- files of a personal website from 2000!
- PCs used in a dentist, containing extremely confidential information!
- a girl's textfile diary (I am sorry, but I laughed my ass off on that)
Ryan's an ass sometimes... when isnt he ( asshole who has the sewing machine behind me ) id really like to smack him up side the head with a long blunt object with lots of pointy things sticking out of it just so i can get something through his head since words and knowledge seems to bounce right off.

Now, as much as I like finding funny/interesting things on used PCs and disks, please remember to wipe your drives to avoid a random teenager making fun of you. Of ALL of the PCs I've found, NONE OF THEM, 0 OF THEM have ever been wiped.

But on spring cleaning 2022, I found a Kindle, that was wiped by the previous owner.

With how huge hard drive sizes are these days, well for example, my personal storage junk is an 8TB server, but that's cause I'm insane. Most average people these days have a 1TB hard drive, and that's sufficient to store whatever they need, they're not gonna fill it up.

My 8TB server is where I store my life. Everything I've ever created, downloaded and more is on there, and it's amazing to think that someone's entire digital life could just be stored in a drive that I've saved as a single 2gb file, a drop in the bucket of the space on my server.

Granted, I'm insane, most people don't need 8TB, but you get what I mean...

But guess who needed a lot of space, and had a lot of money to throw around? Just like today, companies and corporations, of course (companies who can just practically throw money into the shredder by destroying hundreds of large capacity drives every day for "muh security"... oh well).

I somehow ended up with 2 very interesting drives. These drives go way back to 1993, when your PC had a 270MB hard drive, and 500MB was a hard limit. Well, in 1993, here comes Micropolis, with an absolutely colossal 1.6 GIGABYTE hard disk, using the power of SCSI. Just about as big, and as fast as a hard drive could go.

SCSI was the serious stuff back then. Big, fast expensive drives. SCSI optical and tape drives n stuff. These massive (in capacity, not size!) drives cost $2000 when they were new.

Interestingly enough, I have the IDE variants of the 2217, which were pretty unpopular back in the day, since BIOSes didn't support IDE drives that large, and instead had to rely on a very unreliable driver (a predecessor to a much more reliable driver like EZ-DRIVE).

I find these drives fascinating. By that point, Micropolis wasn't exactly the best in reliability, and with newer drives outperforming these in just a couple years, by 1997 Micropolis went out of business. These drives were most likely retired and passed down into the hands of casual users, judging by the data left on them. One had a fairly fresh copy of Windows 98 installed, and the other appeared to have just been storage. I don't use them, but they're interesting drives to have.

Well, going back to talking about the normal drives, if you're into retro PCs like I am, consider getting some old hard drives. People make them out to be old, unreliable junky drives, but it's really just all part of the fun of retro PCs. Overshadowed by the CF card solution, these old drives are really underrated, when they're so cool and interesting, even just to read about the fascinating hard drive history.

Anyways, enough of me, here's my calalogue of "vintage" HDDs.

Something a lil more modern, check out my DataHoarding crap!
Pic Brand Model Size Interface Notes Status Writeup
Fujitsu M1623TAU 1.6GB IDE ASI 486 Win98 Failed Jul '21
Fujitsu M2734TAM 1.6GB PATA From Compaq Presario 1610 (Win98) In use
Maxtor 71626AP 1.6GB IDE DOSmach Win98 old drive 4 bad sectors
Maxtor 7850AV 850MB IDE blank Ok
Micropolis 2217A 1.6GB IDE win98 boot drive? -wipeable Ok GB in '93?
Micropolis 2217A 1.6GB IDE I think I installed OpenStep 4 on this one? Ok
Quantum ProDrive LPS420A 420MB IDE ASI 486 Win98 French (original drive) Ok
Quantum ProDrive LPS270A 270MB IDE MS DOS 6.22 (Leading Edge) Ok
Quantum ProDrive 80AT 80MB IDE MS DOS 5.0 (drive good!) Ok
Quantum Bigfoot TS9.6A 8.9 GB IDE DOSmach Win98 In use The Bigfoot
Quantum Fireball 635AT 635MB IDE blank Ok
Quantum Fireball EX64A013 6.4GB IDE win98, previously used in industrial? Ok
Conner CFA170A 170MB IDE 486-33 Win95 (itty86) In use
Conner CFS1081A 1GB IDE Legend 2440 original drive 1 4 bad sectors
Seagate ST3660A 545MB IDE Legend 2440 original drive 2 many bad sectors
Seagate ST3660A 545MB IDE unknown content, format attempt failed Failed
Seagate ST3290A 260MB IDE unknown content, format attempt failed Failed
Seagate ST3491A 211MB IDE ASI 486 Win95 (clone of ST1239A) Ok!
Seagate ST1239A 211MB IDE very loud scratch noise on startup, otherwise ok Ok?
Seagate ST4323A 4.3GB IDE DOSmach MS DOS 6.22 + WFW311 In use
Seagate ST31621A 1.6GB IDE Legend 2440 new drive (clone of old drives) In use
Seagate ST31480N 480MB SCSI Windows software drive? Ok
Seagate ST3600N 525MB SCSI Fresh Win95 install Ok

~ more from dvd3000.ca ~
laptoponbedphobia (fear of laptop on bed)
the ultimate dos machine kicks ur rgb ass
beautiful works of art in the next dimension
a game with an intersting outcome
i made my windows 10 usable!
more from out dvd3000.ca!

looking for something?
we got an index

dvd3k | | h dm | | afterweb login users irc chat
go ducky!