Friday, June 22, 2012

Where Are They Now? Floppy Disks

It occurred to me as I prepared this blog post that I still have a bunch of floppy disks in my office. I don't have a computer that will read them. I don't have a clue what's on them. I 'spose that I should simply throw them away. Do you have any floppy disks in your room?

What they were: A form of removable storage, in 3.5-, 5.25- and 8-inch variants, that started in the 1970s as a high-end alternative to saving programs on audio cassettes, then segued into serving as a handy complement to hard drives.

What happened: Until the mid-1990s, floppies remained essential. But then the Internet came along and provided folks with file downloads and attachments -- faster ways to accomplish tasks that had long been the floppy disk’s domain, without floppies’ 1.44MB capacity limitation. (Higher-capacity floppies arrived at about the same time, but never caught on.) Much higher-capacity storage media like Zip disks and recordable DVDs nudged floppies further towards irrelevancy. And USB drives -- which provide a gigabyte or more of storage for less than what I paid for one 72KB floppy in the 1970s -- finished the job.

Current whereabouts: Floppy drives are no longer standard equipment, but they certainly haven’t vanished -- in fact, you may have a computer or two around the house that sports one. New 3.5-inch drives and media remain readily available, and you might be able to find 5.25-inch ones if you hunt a bit. (8-inch floppies I can’t help you with.) Which leaves only one question: Under what circumstances would you opt for floppies over something like a $10 (or so) 4GB USB drive that holds 2750 times as much data?

SOURCE: 'Where Are They Now? 25 Computer Products That Refuse to Die' by Harry McCracken.

1 comment:

NaJean said...

Since my middlename is 'Packrat' I'll admit to having some old 3.5 disks with BDPA Phila info on them. The data relates to membership, budgets, program meeting announcements, chapter of the year submission documents, board meeting minutes, etc. from...uh...~20 yrs ago!!??!!