Rotronics Wafadrive

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The Rotronics Wafadrive was a peripheral for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum home computer, intended to compete with Sinclair's ZX Interface 1 and ZX Microdrive. 1984

The Wafadrive comprised two continuous loop "stringy floppy" tape drives, an RS-232 interface and Centronics parallel port.

The drives could run at two speeds, high speed for seeking and low speed for reading/writing, which was significantly slower than that of Microdrives. The cartridges (or "wafers"), the same as those used in Entrepo stringy floppy devices for other microcomputers, were physically larger than Microdrive cartridges. They were available in three different capacities, nominally 16 kB, 64 kB or 128 kB.

The same drive mechanism, manufactured by BSR, and cartridges were used in a similar device known as the Quick Data Drive (QDD), designed to connect to the serial port of the Commodore 64 home computer..

The unit is more compact than Sinclair's, containing both RS-232 and Centronics printer interfaces as standard.

The power for the drives is taken from the Spectrum user port and fed through a ribbon connector which is fitted onto the base of the Wafadrive. That connection could be a disadvantage as it limits the range of other peripherals that can be put onto the user port at the rear of the drive unit.

The large manual supplied with the drive shows that the storage medium contained within the cartridges can have 16K, 64K or 123K formatted capacity, approximately 40K more than a ZX Microdrive.

Before use a tape cartridge has to be formatted. Once that has been done the drive will display drive name, wafer name, list of files, type of code, size of each file and how much space is left on the wafer.

Once saved, programs are easily loaded. The drive is slower than a microdrive but faster than cassette. It is also more reliable than the Sinclair storage unit and all Basic programs run after loading from it ran first time.

Backing up programs is easy with the Rotronics unit. Code can be copied from drive A to drive B using the system software supplied by the manufacturer. Cartridges are, however, guaranteed for a lifetime of 5000 hours and, at a cost of £3.99 each, they represented better value than the Sinclair cartridges although they started out at £7.50 each

Our unit is in its original box and comes with the manual. It was very kindly donated by John Penn-Simkins.

Date : 1984

Manufacturer : Rotronics

Physical Description : Cardboard box x2 polystyrene packaging User Manual Wafadrive unit Card receipt showing purchase Spectral Writer for Spectrum 48K software Wafardrive Toolkit software

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH5125. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

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