Task: Make Floppy Disks Double-Sided
Needed: floppy disks, notcher
Time: 5-10 minutes
When floppy disks first came on the scene they were single-sided and had a single notch or hole on the right side that you could cover with tape to write-protect the disk. I have included below a scan of a brand new disk that only has one notch. It didn’t take long for someone to discover that you could punch a hole in the other side, flip the disk over, and write to it. This immediately doubled the capacity of the disk. Of course, the disk makers didn’t want us to know this because it reduced sales.
We had a Nibble Notch back in the day that was very similar to hole puncher used to make holes in paper for three-ring notebooks. The Nibble Notch punched rectangular holes and had a guide that helped make sure the hole was punched at the right part of the disk. The Nibble Notch sold for $14.95. There were of course other ways to do this. I provide a few options below. This is still useful today since you can buy new old-stock floppies on eBay.
The easiest method is to use an exacto knife or other sharp knife to manually cut the notch out of the side of the disk. This works well but has the disadvantage of not looking as nice.
If you still have a hole punch for making sheets of paper fit with a three-ring binder you can use that. These work but then you have a disk with one rectangular notch and one round notch.
Purchase a disk notcher from back in the day. A common brand is Suncom (see below). I have one of these and they work well. They come up on eBay from time to time and usually sell for about $30-$50. There are several on eBay at the time of this post.
The Nibble Notch is less common and, unfortunately, I lost track of the one I had. I didn’t see any of these on eBay when I looked. If you can snag one of these they are the best way to notch disks because they make a nice clean rectangular cut that looks just like the one from the manufacturer on the right side of the disk. Here is a scan of the instructions.
Notching disks seems like a trivial thing today. However, disks back in the day were about $1 each which is about $3 in 2019 dollars. A simple notch would cut the cost of disks in half. This was a big deal! Happy notching!