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Caleb announces 144MB floppy

The new high-capacity drive will compete with not only the current standard of floppies but also Iomega's 100MB Zip drives and the 120MB LS-120 drives.

Boulder, Colorado-based start-up Caleb Technology announced plans to market a 144MB floppy drive that will also read current 1.44MB, 3.5-inch floppy disks.

The news comes on the heels of Sony's announcement that together with Fuji Photo Film it is developing a drive, also backwards-compatible, that can store up to 200MB of data. (See related story)

The new high-capacity drive will challenge not only the current standard of floppies but also Iomega's 100MB Zip drives and the 120MB LS-120 drives, such as those produced by O.R. Technology and Imation.

Further down the road, the aftermarket for storage device will have to reckon with CD-RW (recordable, rewritable) drives, which are currently available but comparatively expensive, and with recordable DVD.

But Caleb, which receives its funding from a Korean firm whose name it would not disclose, says the market is not as crowded as it might seem. "What Sony and Caleb are doing is the right thing," said spokesperson Toan Doan. "People like the backward compatibility, not because they want to use the 1.4MB disks, but because of the floppy feasibility. Zip...is a feature-added drive. You have to add another bay, another thing dangling on the system."

The Caleb drive will provide data transfer rates of about .95MB/sec, compared to 1.4MB/sec for Zip drives and around .6MB/sec for LS-120 drives. Higher data transfer rates result in faster copying of files.

Caleb has a target price for the drives of $55 for OEM distribution.

Caleb expects to make its drive available in the second quarter of next year. The company will demonstrate the drive next month at Fall Comdex.