The Zip drive was a medium-to-high-capacity (at the time of its release) removable floppy disk storage system that was introduced by Iomega in late 1994. Originally, Zip disks launched with capacities of 100 MB, but later versions increased this to first 250 MB and then 750 MB. The format became the most popular of the superfloppy products which filled a niche in the late 1990s portable storage market. However, it was never popular enough to replace the 3.5-inch floppy disk. For those who are still unsure – yes the SCSI ZIP will work! Even Iomega slips a quick reference to the Amiga in the instructions, giving a clue as to how to proceed by mentioning low-level formatting! You don’t need any special software for installing the ZIP on your Amiga if you have OS 2.0 or higher. All you need is the HDToolBox program that is included in AmigaOS, or use the hard drive preparation software for your SCSI controller if it’s a 3rd party unit. 3rd party SCSI hard disk preparation software should also let you use the ZIP with OS 1.3 as well. You WILL need a SCSI controller hooked to your Amiga, but a hard drive is not required. The ZIP can act as a hard drive if, for some reason, you have a SCSI controller but no hard disk. So a SCSI controller (with 25 pin connector or the correct adaptor) and either HDToolBox or 3rd party hard drive preparation software is all you need. Physically connecting the drive is easy. Either use the early boot menus on your Amiga (or some other program that polls the SCSI controller and reports back the device numbers for devices currently connected to the SCSI controller), and set the ZIP drive to either device 5 or 6 with it’s built in DIP switches.

If you have both a SCSI device 5 and SCSI device 6 on your system already, you will need to change your configuration around to free up 5 or 6 for the ZIP drive since it only offers those 2 device numbers as options. You’ll also need to enable or disable the termination on the ZIP drive. If you have some external SCSI devices, make sure that only the last device in the chain is terminated. The ZIP documentation discusses termination fairly clearly. Just make sure only the last device is terminated and you should be fine. If the ZIP is your only external SCSI device then make sure the termination is enabled. Hook up the external power supply and power up the drive and Amiga. You’ll need to format every ZIP disk you plan to use with the Amiga. It’s exactly the same process as setting up a new hard drive from scratch, just repeat for each ZIP disk. You can reformat the disk that came with the ZIP drive or buy additional blank ZIP disks to use. The ZIP drive, once formatted, works just like a hard drive or, more accurately, a very fast 95 meg floppy. So using the drive is just like using any other disk on the Amiga. Despite difficulty in obtaining the ZIP drive in these days, I would definitely recommend it for anyone who needs more storage space and/or a backup device. Having file system access makes it much more convenient than tape for retrieving specific files. The ZIP is fast enough to use like a hard drive, you can install complete software packages on it and run them from the ZIP, or store your large data files on it. You can still find Iomega zip drives on Ebay for between 50 and 150 euros.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine