Unprecedented project: how to put an entire movie on a 1.4 MB floppy disk

Those who remember the computers of the ’90s remember how “precious” the 1.4 MB floppy diskettes were. These were the main method of storing data in external format, whether we are talking about documents, video games or other types of content. And their capacity was seldom enough for a single game or program, for example, requiring multiple floppy disks to install or transfer from one computer to another.

The project is more of a technological demonstration, not something practical

Thus, the idea of ​​storing an entire movie on a floppy disk was out of the question, especially when we consider that at that time, both processing power and video encoding capabilities were limited.

However, using the 2020 technology, a Reddit user with his virtual name “GreedyPaint” managed to program his own codec based on x265, which would reduce the entire Shrek movie by only 1.37 MB. Of course, in order to achieve this performance, the video quality and the fluidity of the film suffered. Thus, the film has a resolution of 120 x 96 pixels with a frame rate of 4 FPS. Of course, the result is not very impressive, but it works, and in the ’90s even at this level of visual quality would have been a real performance.

And to top it all off, GreedyPaint also created a proprietary playback system for these video disks. Basically, he used a Raspberry Pi and a Floppy Disk drive that he connected to a TV. It’s called LimaTek Diskmaster and has only one function: to read the contents of the floppy disk and display it on the TV.

 

Of course, this is not a practical project, but only demonstrates that technological limits can be overcome with enough ingenuity.

Erin Smith
As our second lead editor, Erin Smith  provides guidance on the stories Nomad Labs reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers.  If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Erin. Erin received a BA and an MA from CSUF.