Not (A :), not (B :): This is why the main hard drive is always called (C : )

Windows users almost always find the main hard drive of a computer under the letter C. If you connect additional drives, they are given the names D, E, F and so on. But why does the alphabetical order start at C and not at A? And what about the B? In the text and in the video we explain what is behind it.
Ever wondered why your computer’s hard drive is labeled (C : )? Since it is the main hard drive, (A : ) would be much more obvious and a C somehow appears arbitrary, especially since you will not find a drive (A : ) or (B : ) on your computer under normal conditions. With newly connected storage media, the computer continues the alphabetical order: If you connect a USB stick, for example, it will probably be assigned the letter (D : ), provided the letter is not already used by another drive; in the latter case the stick would be given the designation (E : ).

The fact that (A : ) and (B : ) are always disregarded when assigning the drive designation is neither a mistake nor a coincidence, but primarily has historical reasons. Because while hard drives are becoming more and more manageable nowadays with ever larger capacities, in the past you had to rely on completely different means in order to be able to store data at all.

Hard disks in computers: common today, rare in the past

The game portal gamestar.de has taken a closer look at the origin of the drive names. What people from younger generations in particular are not even aware of: hard drives have not been part of the standard of a computer for a long time, because they were very expensive and for a long time also very unwieldy. This becomes particularly clear in a picture of a 5 MB hard drive from 1956 (see video above), which despite its tiny storage capacity by today’s standards is so huge that it can only be transported in a team.

Since hard drives were practically priceless for a long time, many consumers opted for floppy disks, which became more popular from the 1970s and were used until the end of the millennium. Operating systems, which at that time were still about one megabyte in size, found their place comfortably on it. And floppy disks – or rather the associated drives – are responsible for the naming of their successor, the hard disk, today.

Everything changed, but the naming remained the same

A PC often had two floppy drives. There were floppy disks in several sizes, for example 3.5 “, but also up to 8”. MS-DOS reserved the names (A : ) and (B : ) for the two drive types. The hard disk, which was introduced later, therefore had to be satisfied with the still free letter (C : ). For this reason, the (D : ) was reserved for a long time for the CD or DVD drive, which at some point was built into many PCs and laptops as standard, thanks to the triumph of USB sticks, external hard drives and cloud solutions but is becoming rarer again.

Although floppy drives don’t mean anything these days, the names have stayed the same. This is essentially due to the fact that newer operating systems were developed on the basis of the previous versions and the traditional name was simply adopted. Incidentally, the letters are not set in stone; You can change the drive letters in the Windows settings.

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