World’s Ugliest Jaz Drive

This weekend was the August MIT Flea, a monthly all-things-geek flea market in Cambridge MA (computers, electronics, ham radio, etc.) – well worth attending if you’re in the area when one occurs. Not a big haul this time, but I did pickup a couple of Iomega Jaz drives, in varying states of useability, in my quest to support more older Mac formats for my file transfer work.

Ugly-Jaz-smFor those who don’t remember, the Jaz was a 1GB removable disk cartridge which was designed to succeed the smaller (and more successful) Zip format. Jaz never really caught on, due to reliability issues and the falling price of full size hard drives, but was in use for many years for those needing larger removable digital storage media.

I found two drives. The first was a standard green Jaz SCSI external drive, but the seller didn’t have the original power supply (a 5V/12V transformer with an unusual pinout), so I don’t know whether it works. The second was an internal 3.5″ SCSI mechanism in an adapter tray that allows it to mount in a standard 5.25″ PC drive bay. Its front plastic bezel has aged to that classic “yellowed PC” shade. I also found an external 5.25″ SCSI enclosure to use for the drive.

The enclosure worked but had a dead SyQuest drive installed, so I first removed the old mechanism. Installing the Jaz drive in it’s PC-bay-bracket took a bit of creativity. Not all of the standoffs which worked with the SyQuest mechanism fit into the bracket’s threaded holes, and the SCSI-ID select cable in the enclosure didn’t fit onto the Jaz drive’s smaller pins. I used a few jumpers to set the ID manually, and delved into my bins of old screws and parts to find mounting attachments which would work. I found enough to get things connected, and I even managed to not spill the bin of dozens of teeny, tiny screws onto the carpet this time!

Once installed I was amused to note that the yellowed plastic on the old enclosure’s front bezel was nearly a perfect match with the yellowed plastic on the drive sled – and both stand in classic contrast to the ubiquitous Royal Mountain Green color of the Jaz drive. My new creation was born – possibly the World’s Ugliest Jaz Drive!

The photo shows the standard external Jaz drive and my new beast. Beautiful, ehh? Hopefully it will even work when I need it – I don’t have any Jaz cartridges around to test it, but it shows up as a valid SCSI device. Total cost: $12. Worth it just as an experiment…

The Story Continues: Jaz Fights Back (and why I love the 9600)


One response to “World’s Ugliest Jaz Drive”

  1. Adam Rosen says:

    ORIGINAL BLOGSPOT COMMENTS:

    Caepan said…
    Had one of those internal Jaz drives in an external case at my old job – used in conjunction with a PowerMac 9500/200 running a Media100 non-linear editing system. We used it between the Graphics Dept. and Production to transfer files. After we upgraded the edit suite to a newer Mac and installed an in-house network, I installed a cheap SCSI card to transfer all of the files from all those Jaz discks (about $100 a popwhen they were brand new, IIRC) and burned them to CD-Rs so that – hopefully – they’re now archived.
    August 20, 2009 at 6:57 PM

    Adam Rosen said…
    Yeah the Jaz disks were expensive, which made their high failure rate very frustrating. You were probably right to transfer data off the cartridges while they still worked. Check your CD-Rs every few years or so also, make sure *they* stay readable!
    August 20, 2009 at 7:37 PM

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