Iomega Jaz Disks – Why Didn’t They Take Off?

I’ve cleaned many a back room computer closet and found quite a number of artifacts that belie how far technology has come in just slightly more than a decade. One such item is the Iomega Jaz drive. I found a package of Jaz disks at a client and, instead of throwing them out, I dissected them and then threw them out.

I really didn’t know what to expect while cracking the cases open, but what I encountered made me stagger. When I opened up the case, I saw what amounted to a hard drive platter sitting loose on a plastic spindle:

The precious platters were protected by the mighty power of… bendy aluminium.

The bendy aluminium was held in place and allowed the freedom to move by a paper clip. Paperclips make the world go ’round!

I took a few more picture of the dissection and posted them on my Flickr account. Take a look at the ignominy here.

So how about it? Are you as appalled as I am that such a product made it to the consumer? Spew your ire in the comments below.


  1. Justin Dearing

    February 6, 2012 at 8:10 am


    They had a niche, but a very high end one. A zip disk will hold a eleventy-billion word documents and spreadsheets. In the age of the Sony Mavica cameras with 3.5″ disk drives, you only needed a few of them even if you were doing digital photography.

    Jaz Drives were the things in the school computer lab dedicated digital photography or music. Each student had to buy a disk for class.


    • Wesley David

      February 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

      I remember the ads in MacWorld and MacUser were quite prominent and seemed to be focused on those in the music / graphics business.

      Behold, bendy aluminium and paperclips.


  2. planetsizebrain

    February 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I owned a ZIP drive and a bunch of disk. The system worked quite well with regards to the mountains of normal floppies you’d otherwise need, only the transfer speed over the parallell port was abysmal.


    • Wesley David

      February 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

      Zip disks were awesome. If you open them up, it’s just a magnetic film like a regular floppy (just a lot firmer). I had no idea that Jaz disks were actual platter though!


      • Justin Dearing

        February 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

        I had a few internal zip drives, I remember getting them to boot in linux. I also once used my parallel zip drive to install Slackware on a monochrome 386 thinkpad.


  3. Jim Ancona

    February 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Sounds like an old-fashioned removable cartridge hard drive. They were common in the days before sealed (so-called Winchester) drives became available in the 1980’s. Here’s an example:


  4. Shane Corellian

    February 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Ha! I remember pre-ordering the Jaz Drive. If I recall it was delayed and delayed. When we finally got our 3 drives my boss (VP of Engineering) immediately took one apart and was so dismayed, like you were Wesley. He looked at me and, with a loud sigh that will always remind me of him, said “order some more Zip discs”

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, bud.


    • Wesley David

      February 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

      I guess it could have been worse. Could have been DECtape. =)


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