hard drive history

smaller, faster: early 3.5 inch drives

Kyocera KC-20B

Photo: Red Hill.

Kyocera KC-20B

A memorable little drive from a company that has long since exited the business. These days, Kyocera is a major manufacturer of laser printers, but it's a long, long time since there was a Kyocera hard drive division. With this particular model Kyocera was obviously successful: KC-20s were quite common in their day and remained around as valuable trade-ins well into the early nineties.

Like so many early drives, you could recognise the KC-20 by sound alone — something you never get with modern drives. The sweet little high-pitched pinging noise the Kyocera's seek mechanism made was unique.

In practical terms, the drives themselves were nothing out of the ordinary: reasonably reliable as MFM drives went, a little on the sluggish side, not very different to a half-dozen others of the same vintage.

Illustration: A pair of Kyocera KC20B hard drives, one upside down, shown with a DTC XT controller. The neat, modern little DTC controller was one of the best of all XT MFM controler cards, and quite common.

Data rate5 Mbit/secSpin rate3600 RPM
Seek time65msActuatorStepper
Platter capacity10.5MBInterfaceMFM
AT drive type2 or 6Form3.5" half-height
KC-20B21MB4 thin-film heads