HP KittyHawk 1.3" Microdrive
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HP Kittyhawk Hard Drive

In 1992, HP introduced a breakthrough in hard drive technology - the 1.3" Kittyhawk microdrive.  It was an amazing little creature, offering 20 and 40 megabytes of storage in what was then an astonishingly small package.  Among the special features was a tiny motion sensor that would park the heads if it detected the device being dropped.

Today, though, the Kittyhawk is probably most famous for being used as a textbook example of how not to bring breakthrough technology to market.  The Kittyhawk flopped.   See "The Innovator's Dilemma" for details.

Market flop or not, it's a damn cool drive - and I was very happy to get ahold of a couple to use as the primary storage for Magic-1.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find much technical info about the drive via Google, so I thought I'd create this page to record what I've discovered.  It turns out there are quite a few Kittyhawks floating around in for hobbyists to play with.  Future-Bot Components has a stash, and they crop up on eBay from time to time as well.

First, a request - if you have additional info on these drives, please contact me and I'll add the info to this page.  Email [email protected].

Anyway, on to what I've learned.

First, there are two sizes of the drives, 20 and 40 MB.  The 40 MB versions are somewhat hard to come by, while there are lots of 20s around.  If you want a 40, one of your best bets is to buy a Dauphin DTR-1 palmtop computer on eBay.  This was one of the few commercial products to use the 40MB Kittyhawk. 

There also appears to have been a PCMCIA version as well - Type III in 20 and 14 MB versions.

The basic HP part number of the 20 MB version is C3013, while the 40 MB version is C3014.  Additionally, there is a suffix on the part number.  I have seen both "A" and "B" for the 20 MB, and "A" for the 40.

The drives are IDE drives, which should make them easily usable.  However, the drives were introduced during the time that the IDE spec was moving from old cylinder/head/sector (CHS) addressing to logical block addressing (LBA).  Some Kittyhawks support LBA addressing, and some only support CHS.  Note also that I have run across a 40 MB Kittyhawk that supported LBA, but reported the total LBA addressable sectors using the wrong "endianness" so it's total had swapped bytes.  Depending on your bios, such a drive might report a wildly overlarge capacity (something like 800 MB).

Following is a table describing the basic info of a few Kittyhawks that I've tested.

HP Part Number Serial Number Firmware Revision Capacity LBA Support
C3013B JP95251609 K2A6B066 20 YES
C3013A JP94141376 K1A4A060 20 NO
C3013A JP941412H1 K1A4A060 20 NO
C3014A JP933814S6 K2A4A059 40 NO
C3014A JP94031430 K2A4A060 40 YES

The Kittyhawk can be used via a 2.5" IDE cable adapter (commonly used to adapt notebook hard drives to desktop systems).  There is a significant warning, though.  You MUST NOT plug the drive in backwards.  Modern drives can typically survive being put in backwards.  The Kittyhawk, though, will not.  If you plug it in backwards, it will be destroyed.

Early Specs

Newsgroups: comp.sys.palmtops
From: [email protected]
Subject: Re: HP announces 1.3" 21MB disk
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1992 07:23:04 GMT

This is a summary of the specs for the HP 1.3" disk drive:

	Formatted:  21.4 and 14 MB
	Unformatted:  35.4 and 23.6 MB
Disks:  2 and 1
Data Heads:  3 and 2
Recording Density:  
	Bits per Inch:  51,000
	Tracks per Inch:  2400
	Areal Density:  111 MB/sq in
	Recording Zones:  6
Seek Time:  < 18 ms
Sustained Transfer Rate:  0.9 MB/s
Burst Data Rate:  1.2 MB/s
Spin-up:  ~1s
Latency:  5.56 ms (5400 rpm)
MTBF:  300,000 hr
Start/stops:  100,000
Service Life:  > 5 yr
Error Rate (per bits transferred):  1E14 (recoverable)
Voltage:  5 VDC +/-10%
Start Peak Power:  2.8W, avg 2.2W
Read Power:  1.5W
Write Power:  1.7W
Sleep Power:  0.015W
Shock (max @ 3 ms):
	Operating:  100 g
	Nonoperating:  225 g
Random Vibration (5 to 500 Hz):
	Operating:  0.015 g
	Nonoperating:  0.04 g
	Swept Sine (5 to 500 Hz):  1 g
Temperature Range: 
	Operating:  -5 to 55 degrees C
	Nonoperating:  -40 to 70 degrees C
Relative Humidity:  
	Operating:  8 to 80% noncondensing
	Nonoperating:  5 to 85% noncondensing
	Operating:  -100 to 10,000 ft (-30.5 to 3048 m)
	Nonoperating:  -1000 to 50,000 ft (-305 to 15240 m)
Accoustic Noise:
	4.2 bels seeking
	4.0 bels idling
Height:  10.5 mm (0.414 in)
Width:  36.5 mm (1.44 in)
Length:  50.8 mm (2.0 in)
Weight:  28 g (1 oz)
	ATA and PCMCIA power-saving modes
	Compatible with Type 3 physical format of PCMCIA

Random stuff

Citizen Watch Company manufacturing

21.4 MB, 18 ms average seek time

$250 in quantity (later $100?)

Reference to PCMCIA version