The 3" Compact Floppy Disc or CF-2 introduced in 1982 and adopted
by Amstrad in 1985 would not have gained any sort of success had
it not been for Alan Sugar cutting a deal with Hitachi to sell him
disc drives at a unit cost guaranteed at lower than the 3.5" drives.
It is said that Hitachi maintained a factory just to supply Amstrad
with disc drives.
These wonderful, ever so slightly smaller in width, compact plastic
cased 180KB per side double sided discs, with all the mechanical
parts and fancy write protection tabs, were obviously going to be
more expensive to produce.
On single sided drives like on the PCW8256 you have to swap them
over to read the other side. On units like the PCW9512 the drive
reads both sides. Sadly what that means is that the disc is not
interchangeable between computers. The bigger problem for the disc
for me, over the years, has been that without a suitable drive
your data is locked on a disc that cannot be read by anything else.
3" disc drives suffer badly from the old rubber band issue and I
doubt any original drive still has its original rubber band in
one piece. Good thing is with the band replaced you can go on for
another ten years.
I struggled badly in the end with busted drive units and as a
consequence broken and corrupt discs. Not sure which was at fault
most. I lost so many discs in 1992 that I eventually gave up and
the very next year went over to the Amiga. Had I not had so many
problems with the CF-2 disc drive I guess I would have carried on
with Amstrad a good while longer.
I still have all my original discs and now a working PCW9512 to
read them. It wasn't just the word processing that kept me active
with Amstrad but also CP/M and Mallard BASIC plus LOGO. All in all
the 3" period of my computer life was very rewarding and spans the
years 1987 to 1993. I still use the format and even have spare
unused discs to feed my passion. And it is a passion.
Other machines that used the 3" format are ... [ from Wiki ]
- AMDECK (AMDISK) 
- YAMAHA MDR-1 
- National MyBrain 3000 
- Gavilan Laptop 
- Tatung Einstein 
- Oric Atmos external Disc Drive 
- Sega SF-7000 Disc Drive (for Sega SC-3000 computer) 
- Timex FDD / FDD-3000 drive ( for ZX Spectrum and Timex ) 
- Amstrad / Schneider CPC 
- Amstrad / Schneider PCW (8000 series) 
- Sinclair Spectrum +3 
- Amstrad PCW 9000 series 
- Amstrad CPC+ 
And so for a sprinkling from the top of my 3" nest of discs I
present some images to remember the very wonderful CF-2
CF-2 Compact Floppy Disc
A selection of my 3" discs.
Unused sealed 3" in sturdy plastic case.
The write protection tabs.
Thick enough to label at the ends.
CP/M was the order of the day... like always.
Distinct colours of the PCW8256.
Some of my discs used during the time
I ran my business from home and used the
PCW9512 as my primary office machine.
Sticky labels that folded round for sides A and B.
And still in use on a daily basis. I'm guessing
I have to thank Mr Sugar for being so sweet in
giving me these wonderful little gems.. and being
so manipulative to have even got the drives onto
the market in the first place. Good old Amsoft.