Floppy disks allowed inexpensive, portable storage of digital information. Floppies were faster, more flexible, more convenient, and lower cost than tape drives. Floppy drives made computers simpler to use, more convenient and increased productivity for computer operators who did not have to load tapes.
Noble invented the floppy disk as an IBM engineer.
His first floppy disk was 8-inches. Eventually, that evolved into the 5.25-inch disk used in the original IBM PC. That disk held 360 kilobytes. Over time, the more rigid 3.5-inch diskette, that held 1.44 megabytes, became more common. Comparatively, there are 1024 kilobytes in a megabyte and 1024 megabytes in a gigabyte. As of 2019, a 128GB flash-drive – that stores the equivalent of almost 90,000 3.5-inch disks, costs $16.
Nobel’s floppy disk team reported into IBM executive Al Shugart. He left IBM to join Memorex then, eventually, start Shugart Associates in 1973, later sold to Xerox. In 1979, he started Shugart Technology later renamed Seagate Technology. Seagate became a large technology company specializing in storage, first in floppy disks and later in hard drives.