hard drive history

transition: primitive ide drives

Miniscribe (Maxtor) 8051A

Photo: Red Hill.

Miniscribe (Maxtor) 8051A

The fastest of the IDE steppers, very racy looking in the flesh, and a good drive.

This was Miniscribe's last gasp, Miniscribe's last attempt to deliver modern, reliable product before the company went broke and Maxtor took it over. And, in a way, the attempt was successful — it didn't save the company, but the 8051A was just about the only Miniscribe drive to resurface with a Maxtor badge. As for the rest of the Miniscribe product line — Maxtor junked it.

Lee of Manassas, Virginia sent an interesting note about the 8051A:

I got my hands on one of these drives, and while it may sound like a stepper, it's not — I opened it, and it uses a rather odd actuator, sort of the converse of a rotary voice coil (it works the same way, only the coil is stationary and the magnet moves). I'm fairly sure this drive uses embedded-sector servo. By the way, compare the squeal it makes on startup to the one the Maxtor 7120 (and possibly the 7040 or 7080) makes. They're pretty close, and apparently, so is the hardware. It would seem this drive was pretty much ancestral to the entire 7000 series, and by extension the DiamondMaxes of today (which, if you check the labels, still have the old Miniscribe-style HDA/FIRMWARE/UNIQUE/UPLEVEL and date code stamps on them). MiniScribe may no longer exist as such, but their legacy, such as it is, is definitely still with us.

Data rate8 Mbit/secSpin rate3484 RPM
Seek time28msActuatorVoice coil
Platter capacity21.3MBInterfaceIDE mode 0
AT drive type2Form3.5" half-height
MS-8051A42.7MB4 thin-film heads1986?