Tiny Computers (Remember them?!) Hard Drive Query

  woolpack 12:46 21 Aug 2009

Hands up who remembers the 'Tiny' brand of PC that were sold in the UK in the late 1990's/ early 2000's ? Im trying to do some research for a small web feature on the now obsolete manufacturer and i'm trying to pin down the hard drives that were installed in the different machines and to be perfectly honest its proving tough going as the company went bust years ago and no one seems to have any detailed records of the types of hard drives fitted to the various models of Desktop PC's which is surprising as they were the UK's best selling make for a few years. I think that most of them came with regular Fujitsu, Maxtor & Seagate drives and i have managed to locate the different model numbers for most of them but i remember a friend of mine having one (probably around 1999/2000 -ish) where the hard drive was located in a steel box (which to all intents and purposes looked like another DVD or CD Rom in the tower casing :o ) and the regular IDE connector plugs were slid through pre cut holes in the back of the steel box and the hard drive was inside.
To cut a long story short the hard drive was dead so we had a look and inside this box (I THINK it may have been a 5.25" size box - Did they make 5.25" IDE internal hard drives for personal PC's back then?) the actual drive was uncovered apart from the box it was housed in. Simply pushing the connector plugs through the back of the box released the drive from its housing and it slid out the other (open) end completely exposed and unprotected - platters, spindle, heads etc were there for all to see!
The drive is long gone but i cannot for the life of me remember what make or model it might have been. Any ideas - PLEASE? Can you think of why the drive was made to fit in a large steel box like that? I remember that the actuator was quite tall so that was possibly why? I have not seen a hard drive in any PC like that before or since
I wish i had taken more notice of the make and model, whether it was single or multi platter etc but this was nearly 10 years ago now !! Any suggestions or ideas gratefully received as its really bugging me now !

  Diemmess 17:56 21 Aug 2009

" Simply pushing the connector plugs through the back of the box released the drive from its housing and it slid out the other (open) end completely exposed and unprotected - platters, spindle, heads etc were there for all to see!"

I cannot credit that the hard drive was open to the outside world.
I was using "standard" HDs of various manufacturers from about the late 1980s onwards and before that had Tandy TRSDOS II with an external HD which was huge, very heavy and had to be switched on for one minute before booting the computer. All this for 4Mb and £2900.

My point is, that from the earliest Winchester drives the whole thing had to be sealed from outside dust et. etc. on pain of crashed heads.

While HDs have a memory which seems to expand exponentially their outside appearance and dimensions haven't seen much change until the advent of the laptop when 3.5" drives became the norm.

I suspect that Tiny fitted a normal IDE drive (perhaps in a cradle) of whatever make gave them a good price.

  BRYNIT 18:51 21 Aug 2009

The only information I can find on 5.25" HD is from Wikipidia click here

5.25 inch: 5.75 in × 1.63 in × 8 in (146.1 mm × 41.4 mm × 203 mm)

This smaller form factor, first used in an HDD by Seagate in 1980, was the same size as full height 5¼-inch diameter FDD, i.e., 3.25 inches high. This is twice as high as "half height" commonly used today; i.e., 1.63 in (41.4 mm). Most desktop models of drives for optical 120 mm disks (DVD, CD) use the half height 5¼? dimension, but it fell out of fashion for HDDs.

The Quantum Bigfoot HDD was the last to use it in the late 1990s, with “low-profile” (?25 mm) and “ultra-low-profile” (?20 mm) high versions.

  curlylad 22:05 21 Aug 2009

I believe Tiny went bankrupt and were bought out by Time computers. They have also now ceased trading or gone bust so perhaps you may find more info looking under Time computers - just a thought.

  DieSse 22:10 21 Aug 2009

There were no hard drives manufactured "open to the elements" (as it were) - they were all in hermetically sealed cases. Someone must have been at the drive you describe - or your memory is playing tricks with you.

The early smaller form factor hard drives were not IDE drives at all - they had hard drive controllers plugged into an ISA bus, and two ribbon cables to the drive - a control cable and a data cable (plus power). Drives became IDE a long time before 1999 - but a few older ones persisted in ancient systems into the early 1990s.

I didn't keep any of the drives, but I still have a couple of controller boards that I keep as curiosities. I last saw a Bigfoot drive in the late 90s I seem to remember.

I was a product manager for a disk drive manufacturer in the late 70s, and saw the very first sealed Winchester OEM drives, which had initially 12" platters - then 8" - before getting down to the smaller sizes we see today. I actually hawked a large 12" multi-platter 80MB drive (made by OKIData) around Europe, and a friend with another company was handling a smaller (but still 12" platter) Shugart (predecessor of Seagate) drive just a little later. None of theses were for PCs, of course, which hardly existed at the time.

  birdface 22:56 21 Aug 2009

2002-2003 It was a Western Digital.WDC WD120AB-22CBA1 .Still using it.

  T0SH 16:53 24 Aug 2009

I have a Tiny tower PC here sitting not more than five feet away, it is a Pentium P4 1.7 or 1.8 Ghz 512 megs ram AGP graphics slot two pci slots, it uses a bog standard 40 Gig 3.5" hard drive a 3.5" Floppy and a 5.25" DVD/CDRW Combo on an Intel motherboard

Incidentally it is the quickest booting PC I have ever had it gets to an XP desktop and connected to the internet via my router in just less than 26 seconds from switch on , way faster than my Quad core main machine does

Cheers HC

  sonyboy 17:36 24 Aug 2009

As DieSse says... cases were hermetically sealed... and considering that in the world of hard drive technology,things have changed rapidly ...
We are told that even "cigarette smoke molecules " combined with microscopic dust particals can impact a drive platter's performance..so its probably no wonder that the drive was "dead" if it was running in an unprotected environment....
Its' highly likely that the Tiny H/D you mention may well have been altered by someone..
I've repaired a good few Tiny and Time PC's and seen a wide range of drives installed in them...but I've never seen an "open" drive as you describe and sadly can't throw any more light on the subject for you..Looks as if this one may remain a mystery ?

  sonyboy 17:39 24 Aug 2009

Sorry...typo error ....I got "particles" wrong...minus five house points !!

  Audio~~Chip 00:36 14 Sep 2009

it had Glass platter disk's inside, remember it well when I dimantled one. Glass shards all overthe joint.

Wish you would have asked this question about 14 months ago, I dispossed of a number of Tiny branded machines.

  Audio~~Chip 00:41 14 Sep 2009

the Tiny machines were the Quantum Bigfoot drives
click here

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