MCD-1 cassette floppy drive

MCD-1 cassette floppy drive

The predecessor of the 3.5″ floppy disk system - in 3-inch version - was developed by Marcell Jánosi in the BRG, in 1973.

The disc and the corresponding BRG MCD-1  drive received a domestic patent protection in 1974. Because of the typical ‘Socialist approach’ and due to the lack of plans for mass production, the patent was lost. The exhibited model confirms the usefulness of the invention and the greatness of the creative mind.

A real competition emerged around the patent fighting for the utilization, production and the opportunities of international co-operations. However, his company could not see the potential in it. Although the leaders of several significant foreign companies were interested in the development - the legendary founder of Commodore, Jack Tramiel, even came to Hungary to negotiate - the management of BRG didn’t recognise the importance of the invention, and rather promoted the development of bubble storage - as we know, unsuccessfully. The CEO had two complaints: one that the storage medium was not compatible, the other that the bubble memory storage would kill the sequential access devices.

The rejection of international relations and offers for cooperation - Triumph, Sony, Commodore, Shugart - was a common practice in the Socialist world. In case of the cassette floppy - due to the absence international patent protection - Sony won the competition, the others became “follower” producers. This is how the 3.5″ floppy developed from the 3″ MCD of Jánosi became, for years, the PC’s main external storage device.

The key innovations of the MCD 1 floppy were the compact case and a central disc of not more than 3″ diameter, which was assembled in a rectangular case that comfortably fitted in a vest pocket; its driver was approximately one tenth the size of the big floppies of the age, but had the same storage capacity! Because of the tendency for people to make it difficult for others to succeed, combined with a lack of finance, the Hungarian minifloppy stayed a curiosity of Hungarian technology history. Only a few thousand copies were made of them at the beginning of the 1980s, although, it was introduced in the Western press as well, and in a minimal number a version fitted to the ZX Spectrum computer was also put on the market. However, its “clones” and improved versions spread all over the world: the 3″, then the 3,5″ diameter cassette minifloppies were present in the bag of all PC users until the millennium. But Hungary couldn’t profit from this.

‘Hungarian developers have a good technical background and have the creativity to make first mover products, and this heritage should be used to further our cause. I have strong hopes for the economic environment to change to our advantage soon. Gradually, venture capital will discover our potential.’ - the inventor said at the 6th Congress of NJSZT in 1995.