Flexible media, or how not to insert a 5-1/4” floppy disk

In my early teens, a few of us proto-geeks would hang out in a downtown Ottawa computer shop, playing with the Osbornes and Apple ][s until an hours-older salesgeek would throw us kerbside.

One afternoon, while surreptitiously copying the store's software to our own floppies, we watched a businessman stride in and face one of the displayed Apple ][ computers systems. He then pulled from his pocket a standard 5-1/4 inch floppy diskette that someone must've given him and stared at the Apple's disk drive.

Apple ][ Floppy Disk DriveNow, if you've never seen one of these drives, here's an example (click for larger view, image courtesy of the Greater Pittsburgh Vintage Computer Museum). The drives had a center latch that, when closed, split the disk slot into two halves. The drive that the fellow was facing was similarly closed.

The poor fellow clearly wanted to insert the disk he held, but seemed baffled by the slots on the front of the drive. He looked at the drive, looked at his disk, looked at the drive again, folded his disk in half, and began jamming it into one side of the drive. Our delighted guffaws brought the salesman running. He was more worried about damage to the drive or the disk that was already inserted, but later admitted that he'd found it hard to keep a straight face when the business fellow complained that he needed to look at some memo that a coworker had stored on his precious disk, and couldn't he just flatten it out under a book or something and try again.