"floppy disk"--why "floppy"?

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat May 12 01:11:58 UTC 2001

In a message dated 05/11/2001 6:11:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
prez234 at JUNO.COM writes:

> Someone may have already answered this, but "flop" can mean
>  "floating point operation."  So if you're crunching numbers
>  it's floppy two ways.  (Although flops may be done on hard disks as well)
>  some of you computer folks may have further clarification...I heard
>  a number of years ago, but that term never caught on...

the acronym is "FLOPS" for "Floating Point Operations Per Second"
Generally used in the expression "Megaflops" (millions of floating point
operations per second) since nowadays even PC's are in the megaflops range.
I haven't heard of a gigaflops computer yet but if one doesn't exist yet,
just wait...

I've never heard of "flop" for "floating point operation" and even if such an
expression did exist, it would have nothing to do with disks, hard or floppy,
since floating point arithmetic is done internally,not on disk.

I've never heard the term "stiffy".  Hard drives were first called
"Winchesters" or occasionally "Winnies" but that term, although it lasted
into the mid-80's, has long since died out.  I suspect that "hard drive"
caught on because of the closeness to the term "hardware" (and for some
hardware types, the verb "harden" as in "radiation-hardened").

             - Jim Landau
               Systems Engineer
               FAA Technical Center (ACT-350/BCI)
               Atlantic City Airport NJ 08405 USA

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