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[LGR]: It's time to play Duke 3D on Zip disks and chew bubble gum.
And I'm all out of... Wait, no, I've got more Zip disks!
(typing, trumpet-led jazz music)
Greetings and welcome to another episode of LGR Oddware,
where we're taking a look at hardware and software that is odd, forgotten,
and obsolete.
And is definitely the Zip drive. (chuckles)
This I've been wanting to talk about for a long time.
And, yeah, as far as I'm concerned,
it is Oddware.
It's a little bit odd in the way it works.
It's definitely forgotten by a lot of folks.
And obsolete? Absolutely.
I mean, this is a parallel port drive,
only 100 megs.
But of course, there were a whole lot of different types of these.
We're gonna look at several of them.
And go over the history of it a little bit
and setting it up and trying it out with some things,
seeing what it can do.
Let's do it!
- [LGR] This is the Iomega Zip 100.
A parallel port version, an external drive.
Yeah, this is the very first model that they introduced
in very late 1994
at Comdex in November.
From the Iomega Corporation based in Roy, Utah.
This was a 3½-inch floppy disk alternative of sorts,
sometimes called a "super floppy."
It had 100 MB, but they went all the way up to 750 MB per disk,
or cartridge, in 2002,
which was the highest capacity model of these things.
They originally cost around 200 bucks for the base drive bundle,
like this parallel port one here.
And a bit more for things like the SCSI versions,
and there were internal ones as well
that used an IDE interface, among other things.
Either way, a couple hundred bucks or so.
And then it was $20 per disk originally.
And that may sound like a lot, but remember,
this was equivalent to what were 70 high-density 3½-inch floppy disks,
so it really was kind of a bargain.
And yeah, I've been wanting to talk about these things for years now.
I've got a lot of requests to. I run across them in thrift stores
on LGR Thrifts and such,
and people are always asking, "Oh, why don't you cover a Zip drive?"
And I'm like, "Okay, here we are."
I've also gotten some requests being like,
"Don't forget the Jazz and the Rev drives and things like that."
Well those are different, actually.
They're removable hard disk cartridges.
And there's also Iomega ZipCD,
which had nothing to do with the Zip technology here.
It was just a standard CD writer.
So yeah, today we're really just gonna be talking about
these original Zip drives, the Zip 100s.
So Iomega had actually been around since 1980,
selling all sorts of different storage things
and at the point that they introduced Zip drive,
their most current things were the Bernoulli and the Ditto drives.
The Bernoulli one I've covered in the past
and the Ditto was just a tape drive.
These were nothing particularly exciting or selling very well.
In fact, the company sales were stagnant
and they needed something
to get the company growing.
But the Zip, holy crap, that ended up being
a massive hit almost immediately.
The timing was right, the price was right,
they were relatively cheap,
and it ended up being their biggest hit.
In fact, the company's equity increased by 2,000 percent
the year after the Zip was introduced.
And it wasn't without it's competition
and other people trying similar ideas
within those years or so, in that mid-'90s area.
Things like the LS-120, the SuperDisk,
the UHD-144
and the Sony HiFD.
These are all prime Oddware targets in the future, of course.
But yeah, anyway, Zip, right?
Zip was the mainstream thing.
It was so popular, BIOS manufacturers like AMI and Phoenix
included support for these right from the get-go.
You could boot your computer from a Zip disk.
Don't even mess with floppy disks at all if you don't want to.
And it was also used in devices like music samplers,
aircraft navigation systems,
and even Iomega got into their own game, so to speak.
They introduced something called the FotoShow,
which hooked up to TVs and let you display pictures through Zip disks.
I have one of those, and I'm gonna cover that in a separate video.
Yeah, while these things were massively popular,
and people bought them up like crazy,
the quality control was a mixed bag.
I mean, sure they were a little cheaper
than some of the competition and whatnot,
But it got them into some trouble
because later models especially
were prone to something called the "Click of Death,"
where the read-write heads inside would misalign,
sometimes ripping the heads off entirely,
losing data, destroying the drive, and it was a problem.
So much so that there was a lawsuit, a class-action lawsuit,
Rinaldi v. Iomega.
They alleged that the warranty was vague
and Iomega was sort of covering this thing up
and there were a bunch of other things in there.
And eventually, it was settled.
Iomega had to send out product rebates
to buyers of Zip drives
for a future product from Iomega.
So it's just kinda like, "Here, we know our product sucks."
"Buy some more with this rebate."
It's kind of a stupid settlement if you ask me, but anyway. (laughs)
It's also pretty amusing that Iomega actually made a Clik! drive
at the same time as the "Click of Death" debacle
and the class-action lawsuit.
They renamed it the Pocket Zip later on.
It just... yeah, Clik! drive.
That's a, that's a pretty classic misstep
just by accident.
This definitely put a dent in Iomega's reputation,
but it didn't actually kill them.
What did that
were a combination of things.
Mostly just technology changing and other stuff getting cheaper,
like CD-Rs and CD-RWs.
Those got really cheap and people weren't using Zip disk as much.
And, you know, they had much higher capacity.
By the time they came out with their 750 meg Zip drive,
then you had USB sticks and flash memory taking off like crazy.
And then that stuff got dirt cheap, and then nobody bought Zip drives any more.
Iomega stuck around, though.
In fact, they're still around, they're just called LenovoEMC, Limited.
But yeah, they made stuff for a long time,
they're still going, so it's kind of impressive, really.
And just as a sort of side note, since I know somebody's gonna ask:
No, Zip disks are not related to the .zip file compression format.
That was developed by Phil Katz
five years before Zip drives came out.
While naturally you can put .zip files on Zip disks,
that's not where the name came from.
It's just mean to imply "zippy."
Alright, so let's go ahead and take a look
at the Zip 100.
This is going to be the parallel port version.
There's also the SCSI one, but you can see that they're
pretty much identical, it's just the interface that is different.
I've always quite enjoyed that BMW key just
casually placed there in front of the Zip drive.
I'm sure that's not meant to infer
anything at all about the kind of customer they were hoping to attract.
BMWs and Zip drives, they go hand-in-hand.
"Zip disks can hold all your stuff. Work stuff,"
"home stuff, other stuff,"
even games.
Yeah, "Store and run all of your games."
Yeah, definitely gonna have to put that to the test.
Do note this as well. This says, "up to 20MB per minute transfer rate."
That would be very generous.
"Welcome to Zip drive. Inside is all the stuff you need
to get started."
So let's get started!
First up here, we have
the driver disk, the installation here for DOS, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95.
This is a June 1997 release.
I do find it a bit amusing that a floppy disk sort of replacement is
still relying on floppy disks to install itself, but, you know.
The Zip accessories, yes!
All sorts of things that Iomega put out there to
augment the Zip disk ecosystem.
"What are you gonna do with your new Zip drive?"
You could do whatever you want, I guess.
Like with all these stickers that say
all the things that you can do.
"I am Old Stuff." Yeah.
I would actually use that sticker, 'cause it's just true.
Got the installation guide here which is in one of these irritating
fold-out designs. I hate when instructions do this.
Just give me a stapled together little booklet.
There's no reason for this.
Same with the user's guide. It opens up and...
Yeah, there you go.
But it really is just super simple to use these things.
There's not a whole lot going on. You plug them in and it pretty much just works.
Well, it has a printer passthrough, so that's cool.
You can plug in your printer. This is taking up the parallel port in this version.
And here we go!
This is the contents right there,
and look how nice and tidy this is.
I found this at Goodwill like this, actually, so
I was pretty impressed. It looks brand new.
I mean...
Just look at that.
Has this ever been used?
I mean seriously. (chuckles)
The parallel cable is still sealed in its little package, so...
Let's go ahead and take a look at the media itself,
which is a Zip 100 disk, in this case.
And, yeah, check it out.
You can see what they were going for as far as the
"super floppy" floppy disk replacement kind of thing.
But there are some obvious differences.
A Zip disk is gonna be thicker, of course.
And where this opens up and reveals the magnetic media inside,
this one does not on the back.
The Zip disk actually opens up and you can see, sort of,
the media inside of that.
So it opens from the top.
The little read-write mechanism just goes in there like that.
You also see this little retro reflective bit?
This is going to tell the drive itself
what kind of disk has been inserted in there.
This has actually got Zip Tools on there already.
"Free Software! $100 value."
Of course, it was also pretty much just a free disk.
People just overwrote these, at least from what I remember.
But, yeah, there wasn't actually a lot of software
sold on Zip disks.
I think it was pretty much just limited to very niche applications
and certain things from Iomega, certain things for the music sequencers.
And here is
the drive itself.
What a nice little thing.
I like this window on the top there
with the little graphics showing you how things work.
The little rubber feets.
Which meant it could stand up like this.
I mean, it's just a cool piece of bluish-purple '90s tech.
It's, you know, not an unattractive thing.
This was definitely the most common one, as far as form factor.
External was seemingly more popular than internal,
at least in my experience, but there were a lot of internals as well.
So, yeah, the disk just goes in here
And there it is! And it's not gonna open
because this power, this eject button won't work
unless this thing is powered on.
So that's gonna be stuck in there until I plug it into the wall.
But let's take a look at what the internal disk drive looks like.
So this is just a factory-refurbished
version of the Zip 100 ATAPI internal drive.
That's why it's in such a plain friggin' box.
Mmm.
"Internal ATAPI drive."
So it looks like some similar kind of stuff here,
although it has Iomegaware on CD
and some other pack-in Norton crap.
On CD, not floppy disks.
This is definitely some sort of a later iteration. It's mentioning
Windows 2000 and NTFS. (chuckles)
Oh, how delightful and very spartan inside here.
Wow, I kinda like the way that's laid out.
So it looks like we have a power cable splitter right here,
IDE cable,
and some mounting screws.
So, yeah, it's just a drive.
Oh, I was wondering if it would come in its own bay here.
So this is a 3½-inch bay converted to 5¼.
I mean, it really does actually look a lot like
a hard drive meets a floppy disk.
And it looks like a hard disk in the back here
with the IDE connector,
the selectors here for master and slave and all that,
and then the four-pin power.
That's a full-size molex, not the smaller one
like you would see on a 3½-inch drive.
Uh, floppy drive. So yeah. Cool.
Well, let's try these out.
Alright, so it's just my Windows 98 project box
that I use to do a lot of capturing and stuff.
So, yeah, we're gonna install the internal one.
And I guess the parallel one, too, both into this.
I would use my 486,
but this one actually lists Windows 95B or higher
as a requirement, and that only runs DOS 6.22.
IDE cable right here.
And I got a power cable. Don't need to use that splitter that it came with.
And that should be pretty much it, other than the drivers.
Fresh parallel cable.
(sniffs) Mmm, smells like nothing. (chuckles)
Its newness has worn off over the years.
That plugs in right here into the free port.
And of course, that would be the passthrough for the printer, but we don't need it.
And the power somewhat interestingly goes in on the bottom/side here.
That sort of loops in there like that.
Cool. We got power, so we should be able to get the disk back out.
(chuckles) And there we go, somewhat forcefully.
(drive whirring)
What a nifty mechanism.
Yeah, let's try this out!
Probably gonna set these up separately.
So let's try the internal one first and then we'll try the parallel,
and maybe see what the speed difference is.
Okay, so it seems to have detected things,
so we'll see what happens here with
Iomegaware.
I wonder if Windows 98 has the drivers in there already.
It does!
Alright, well cool, it's already working here.
I just stuck in a Zip disk and
this is it!
Which makes total sense. Ooh, a Zip tour. (chuckles)
- [Voiceover] Welcome to Zip drive, the new place for all your stuff.
You've made the right decision.
Whether you write, play, paint, collect or plan,
Zip drive is your idea toolbox.
With old storage disks, the thinking went,
"What else can I squeeze on it?"
With Zip drive, why squeeze?
If you think you might need it, don't zap it... Zip it!
Our Zip Tools software helps you organize, move, protect,
and keep track of all that stuff
in ways that work for you.
Organize stuff by subject, date, client, whatever.
And you can take Zip drive with you.
- Did you see that 60 frame- per-second animation there?
That's high quality stuff!
All this from a disk.
See what it has in the Windows 95 stuff.
Okay...
Oh, it's moving things over pretty quickly. Nice!
Okay, so it put a thing on my Desktop. I didn't ask for that.
It's literally just like a file manager/browser,
and you can search for "things."
Which there's nothing named "things" on there, so it's not gonna find it.
Uh, okay, App Mover.
I'm assuming this moves apps to Zip drives.
Click an application.
Yeah, I'd rather just screw around with it myself.
I don't need applications to manage my files.
So here we go!
It's just like using literally any other type of removable media ever, pretty much.
Other interesting little tidbit about Zip disks is
they sometimes came dual-formatted, as is the case with this one I have.
So, it's in a Windows PC here, so I run this Reclaim thing,
and that's gonna let me
reclaim the rest of the space that was actually
formatted for the Mac.
If you were on a Mac, then it would reclaim the IBM PC-compatible side.
Quite a bit different that what you would do on a 3½-inch floppy disk.
Alright, so what I'm gonna do here
is copying everything off of there, just sort of backing it up.
And then I'm gonna clear it out
and copy over Duke Nukem 3D to the thing,
and try to run that straight off of the Zip disk.
And try it with the internal one and then try it versus the parallel one,
and see how long it takes.
Okay, let's go ahead and copy over Duke Nukem 3D
on the internal drive starting... now.
This is a whole 42 MB or so.
So, not quite half of the disk.
Alright, so I ended up with just a little over 53 seconds there
to copy over Duke Nukem 3D.
Which is...
Actually, that was 48 MB,
so just about half the disk.
This is coming straight off of the Zip disk.
(swoosh, boom sound)
That's cool. Seems to be working.
Working well, too!
Wow!
Honestly, I can't really tell any difference between
hard disk loading and the Zip drive in this case.
Ah, this is still my weirdly modified LGR intro.
It's missing the art assets.
(laughs) Whoops.
Okay. So that worked.
Let's try it with the parallel now,
because I have a feeling it's not gonna be quite the same.
I've always kind of liked external drives like this.
(drive whirring)
Alright, so I ran this Guest95 program,
and it detected this one as Drive G.
So, same disk. I'll just put it in there.
And we'll see what happens.
There we go. Okay, same files and everything.
Copying over Duke Nukem 3D starting...
now.
(laughs)
And it already says "14 minutes remaining."
We might be here a while.
Well, I am getting me a drink.
Ahh! Good old Cheerwine. I love this stuff.
"A hundred years of cheer."
So, yeah, we've passed the minute-and-a-half mark already.
It's just kind of sticking at this "duke3D.grp" file,
which is the largest file in the folder.
I mean, that makes sense.
Two-and-a-half minutes have passed and it is still going.
Still the same file.
And it still says "5 seconds remaining."
It just says that until I guess it's done.
It has no idea how long it's gonna take.
(clicking) And just past three-and-a-half minutes.
Still going on the same file.
Yeah, that's the four-and-a-half minute mark.
Still going on the same file. (laughs)
Oh, it's trying! (laughs)
At this rate, I'm gonna need some Meeseeks to help this thing along.
Six-and-a-half minutes!
Another minute has passed. It's still doing things.
It's still making noise.
This is why the gods invented SCSI and internal interface and...
Come on, Zip disk.
Alright!
Just shy of nine minutes there.
Eight minutes and practically 52 seconds.
Alright, let's get to the comparison!
Loading Duke Nukem 3D from the hard disk drive,
the internal Zip drive and the external one running over parallel.
Starting right... (key click) Now!
And there we go, got the little DOS window here going up.
And of course, the hard disk is pulling ahead quickly,
with the logos already going, already to the main menu.
Starting a new game here.
And that's 13 seconds that it took to get to E1M1 in Duke Nukem 3D.
Whereas the internal one is...
Oh, it's at the logo right there, too, at about 20 seconds.
So that's not too bad, really. That would be like a slower
hard drive at the time.
So, maybe for 1994, it actually was kind of comparable
to the speed of a hard drive.
However, you can see that the external one over parallel
is just now getting to the Duke Nukem 3D main loading area,
where it's dealing with the .grp files, configurations and stuff.
Yeah...
So, we have the internal one over here.
53 seconds to get to E1M1.
(laughs) And the poor parallel drive is trying its best.
It's still just trying to get to the friggin' logos, man.
So we're gonna speed this up by kind of a lot.
Because it takes kind of a long time.
In fact, it took four minutes and 17 seconds
just to get to the main menu,
and it's not pretty. Just listen to this.
(stuttering MIDI rock music)
And these results aren't unexpected.
Parallel is notoriously slow for transferring large bits of data,
but you know, this was a drive that in this case
was more useful for backing up personal files and things like that,
not entire games, even though the box sort of boasted
that you could do that.
Another loading screen here for a while,
just trying to load the first level, and it takes, overall,
five minutes and 16 seconds or thereabouts to get to the start
of E1M1 in Duke 3D, and even then, again, it's not pretty.
Any time it needs to load in a new sound effect or
other asset in-game,
there's a lot of choppiness and stuttering.
Again, not unexpected at all,
but, eh, it's an interesting result to see in person.
One more slightly interesting thing to note about the Zip disk
and loading a game like Duke 3D off of there is
once it's in memory for that first initial loading,
you can actually quit the game, start it back up,
and you don't have to go through that whole five minutes
You're still gonna get some of that stuttering and stuff.
And this is only, of course, if you have enough memory.
So that does depend on RAM and system resources and such.
Either way, though,
this is obviously just not geared towards
running a full CD game like Duke 3D off of a Zip disk,
even though the box says you can do that.
I'm sure they didn't have these kind of games in mind.
I'm sure if you played something like Solitaire or SkiFree off of here,
it's be just fine.
But games that are larger and uses the full
100 MB to its advantage is... (laughs)
It's not an advantage at all, it sucks.
But that's just Zip disks, and it's kind of
part of the charm of going back and exploring them again.
And kind of making me wonder how it would have been
if I had had one as a kid.
I would have definitely made use of it, and even with the slowness and the
crappy, crappy build quality and reliability issues
and all these things.
I would have really liked a Zip disk drive back then,
just because storing things on a ton of floppies was a pain.
That is for sure. We had to delete
so many of my games (laughs)
because we couldn't afford more floppy disks
and the hard disk was full, all 140 megs of it.
So, right. But yeah.
That's pretty much it for this episode of Oddware,
at least when it comes to
this particular set of Iomega and Zip disk stuff.
Maybe we'll revisit more from the company
in the future, but as of now,
I hope you enjoyed this episode.
And if you did, then why not check out some of my others.
All sorts of odd, forgotten and obsolete things I've covered here on LGR.
And new videos are coming out every Monday and Friday,
so stay tuned for those if you'd like.
And if you really like what you see here,
and you'd like to see videos early and such,
then you can support LGR on Patreon.
And as always, thank you very much for watching LGR.
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LGR Oddware - The Iomega ZIP Drive Experience

4 Folder Collection
林宜悉 published on March 20, 2020
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