Strange peripherals… the FD-4000 drive

When it came to peripherals, the C64 was the system that had the most. And when it came to companies making these peripherals, it was Creative Micro Designs (CMD) that made the most amazing ones. Just think about the HD20, the SuperCPU, … these are some of the most sought after peripherals on today’s Commodore collectors market.

Sure enough, it was CMD that surprised everyone back in 1993 when they introduced the FD-4000, a 3,5” disk drive capable of storing up to 3,2 Mb on a single disk!

As was to be expected of CMD, the drive was built to perfection. Made up of a modified PC disk drive housed inside a metal casing, it even allowed the user to easily switch the device address if you were going to use the drive alongside the standard address 8 of the 1541 drive.
It could handle DD-, HD- and even ED-disks and could juggle partitions on these disks as if it were a 1581 drive. Switching from partition to partition was done by simply keying in PRINT#1, “CP XX” – with XX being the partition number. Formatting a partition was done using the existing commands – could it be simpler?

When you wanted to format the whole HD- or ED-disk, then you had to rely on the accompanying well documented toolset that further allowed you to either work with the disks on the FD-4000 in 1581, 1571 or 1541 mode. If you were lucky enough to own ED-disks (which were quite expensive back then – 75 Euro) then you could have up to 19(!) 1541 partitions on a single disk.

The FD-4000 yielded high scores when it came to compatibility, i.e. running programs from the disk partitions as if they were run from a 1541, 1571 or 1581 and it was also the perfect companion when working under CP/M or Geos.
For the latter CMD even had a desktop expansion called “Gateway”, which allowed Geos to use a single disk as a native partition of 3,2 Mb, making it the perfect tool when working with applications such as GeoPublish.

Was it expensive? Well, for the sheer power this drive provided, the cost of 300 Euro was well worth it. Expect to pay at least 2 or 3 times this amount today if you’re lucky enough to find one!

Small side note: Do you remember what DD, HD and ED meant in the world of 3,5” disks?
DD meant “Double-Sided Double-Density” and these disks consisted of 80 tracks with 9 sectors (512 Bytes each) on both sides. This lead to a capacity of 2 * 80 * 9 * 512 Bytes or 720 Kb
HD were the “Double-Sided High-Density” disks and they basically had 18 sectors per track, effectively doubling the capacity to 1,4 Mb.
ED (Double-Sided, Extended-Density) were a lot more expensive but again doubled the capacity to 2,8 Mb. Given Commodore’s different logic in writing data to the disks, this effectively became 3,2 Mb.

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4 Responses to Strange peripherals… the FD-4000 drive

  1. Cool. Had no idea something like this even existed for the C64

  2. Pingback: Strange peripherals… the RAMLink | A Commodore Geek's Blog

  3. I have one for sale.

  4. Richard i would like to buy it. PM me for making a deal please!

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