hard drive history

finding the formula: ide as we know it

Kalok Octagon KL3100 Kalok Octagon KL3100

Photo: Red Hill.

Kalok Octagon KL3100

Possibly the worst hard drive ever made.

Kalok went out of business in 1994, and no wonder! The Octagon KL3100 was a valiant attempt to produce a modern drive without really having the capabilities in place. It was a reasonably fast IDE drive, with an attractive black finish ..... and dreadful old stepper technology inside.

We heard about others, but we only ever actually saw three of these things during their market life, and none of them worked for very long. Another one came into the shop some years later — that's it in the picture — but I have never been brave enough to plug it in.

We first met the Kalock Octagon back in the days when 245 and 345MB drives were selling new. We traded this particular drive in sight unseen and brand unknown on the understanding that it would be in good working order with no bad sectors. (A brand new drive cost around five hundred-odd dollars in those days, remember — more than a week's wages for most people — so second-hand drives were keenly sought after.)

When I opened up the case and saw what it was, I didn't want it — Kalock drives were notorious even then — but I hadn't specified any particular brand when talking to the customer and I wasn't really in a position to go back on the deal without breaking faith.

So I tested it: tested it with every diagnostic program I could lay my hands on, hoping to find an objective problem (any problem!) which would justify not taking it. The drive made all the usual weird Kalok noises and — passed everything.

So we had to take it. But still I didn't trust it, and I kept it in-house on the test-bench for six months or so rather than sell it, and never had the slightest problem.

Eventually, I had to admit that it was in perfect working order and there was no reason why I shouldn't sell it just the same as any other trade-in drive. So I did.

It was back the very next day: dead as mutton.

In the end, I gave the customer a brand-new Maxtor instead, so he was happy, but I was several hundred dollars poorer. For years after that, I taught the staff that, whenever we traded in a drive by telephone, we would still say it had to be "in good working order" but then add "and of reputable manufacture"!

Data rate14.4 Mbit/secSpin rate3662 RPM
Seek time19msBuffer
Platter capacity36MBInterfaceIDE mode 0
ActuatorStepperForm3½" half height>
KL3100105MB6 thin-film heads