I certainly remember Elephant disks. When I first got my Apple IIc I joined a subscription service at a local software store where they let you rent a different program every week. Every time you went in to swap programs they would also give you a free, Elephant brand, floppy disk. In retrospect I was obviously supposed to pirate the apps, but I was 9 and found my self thwarted by the copy protection. I remember, some apps would let you make one, and only one back up disk of the program. So if I was the first one to rent it, then I could snag a copy.



Says who? Says ANSI.

Specifically, subcommittee X3B8 of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) says so. The fact is all Elephant™ floppies meet or exceed the specs required to meet or exceed all their standards.

But just who is “subcommittee X3B8” to issue such pronouncements?

They’re a group of people representing a large, well-balanced cross section of disciplines—from academia, government agencies, and the computer industry. People from places like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Lawrence Livermore Labs, The U.S. Department of Defense, Honeywell and The Association of Computer Programmers and Analysts. In short, it’s a bunch of high-caliber nitpickers whose mission, it seems, in order to make better disks for consumers, is also to make life miserable for everyone in the disk-making business.

How? By gathering together periodically (often, one suspects, under the full moon) to concoct more and more rules to increase the quality of flexible disks. Their most recent rule book runs over 20 single spaced pages—listing, and insisting upon—hundreds upon hundreds of standards a disk must meet in order to be blessed by ANSI. (And thereby be taken seriously by people who take disks seriously.) In fact, if you’d like a copy of this formidable document, for free, just let us know and we’ll send you one. Because once you know what it takes to make an Elephant for ANSI …

We think you’ll want us to make some Elephants for you.


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  1. Des says: September 19, 201110:00 am

    I recollect these well. I thought the name was brilliant and loved the packaging.
    There is actually a tribute site for them:…

  2. Hirudinea says: September 19, 201110:28 am

    I remember getting the cheapest disks I could find and then double siding them with a pair of siscors! Ok, so I was cheap, so what.

  3. Charlie says: September 19, 201112:37 pm

    Hirudinea » I had one of those little chomper tools that did it.

  4. Andrew L. Ayers says: September 19, 20112:41 pm

    @Hirudinea: Heh – I thought I was the only one who used scissors to double-side; most everyone I knew used a hole-punch. I did know one guy who would “round” his floppies; cutting the corners of the discs off to make them somewhat circular…

  5. Mike says: September 19, 20114:58 pm

    I tried with the scissors, but I some how ended up cutting too far in after using too much pressure to cut through the edge of the diskette.

    Beagle Brothers software used to have great disk jackets.

  6. Charlie says: September 19, 20115:29 pm

    Mike » Wow, I haven’t heard that name in a long time! They certainly did.

  7. G. L. Tyrebyter says: September 20, 201112:16 am

    I go back to the Apple II+ that I bought in 1979. I couldn’t afford the floppy drive at that time. It ran over $800. Had to save and load programs on cassette. I later got the floppy drive when I got a IIe in 83. I used the Elephant disks. I still remember that orange striped box. I also used a floppy punch to double side the disk. The second side was uncertified. You took a risk of losing the data. That’s why they were cheaper. The quality of the second side was not checked. If I recall, you got about 180K of storage on each side. That was enough to save about 10 to 15 programs. I tried loading some programs 20 years later from those disks onto an old IIe. They forgot.

  8. Andrew L. Ayers says: September 20, 20117:41 pm

    @Mike: For my drive to double-side, I also had to add a hole for the index hole opposite the other side (I didn’t have a double-sided drive); both it and the write-protect “hole” I did with scissors – never went so far as to cut all the way thru the disc, though! Ha!

    @Tyrebyter: Not too many years back I did a conversion of all my old floppies for my TRS-80 Color Computer (plus a ton of others from another CoCo nut) to a format for emulators; all in all – around 500 floppies. I would say of those, only about 50 total had issues so bad they were unreadable. Some of the others had corrupted data, but were still readable for the most part. The majority, though, worked perfectly fine.

    As a kid (with my parents paying – and looking back now, I realize that they paid a TON for everything I had and still own) I never went for any particular brand of floppy – just whatever was cheap or available. Most of the time, it was floppies from Radio Shack; but other times it was Sony or BASF. Never had an Elephant floppy, though.

    My next “conversion” project, if I ever get around to it – will be a bunch of floppies I have of Apple IIe software (games, apps, and BASIC progs). No idea how many of those will work. I need to get on with it sooner rather than later, though (then – the next step is transferring data from my Amigas!).

    Ugh – I have waaaaay too many projects… 🙂

  9. Rick Auricchio says: September 20, 20119:47 pm

    @Tyrebyter: The Apple diskettes first held 110KB of data, when they used the 13-sector-per-track. Official Shugart specs allowed 10-sector 88KB capacity, but Woz was able to save space using his “nibblization” technique. This was basically a substitution code that packed bytes into fewer bits.

    That format only allowed a one zero-bit in a row on the media, because clocking was recovered from the serial data stream during the read. In late 1979, Woz found it was possible to reliably allow two consecutive zeros, which allowed for better data packing. The result was the 16-sector 140KB capacity on the same media. Users could change two ROM chips on the controller card to get the new capacity.

    More than you needed to know. I wrote floppy drivers at Apple for about ten years!

  10. Gary James says: September 21, 20116:37 pm

    We were a Commodore house, and use tape exclusively with the vic-20, and got a 1541 disk drive for the C-64 we later got. IIRC, C1541 floppies held around 160K per side.

    And yes I cut and flipped, using a utility knife and another floppy as a template. Commodore did not use the index hole so no worries.

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