The People Who Won’t Give Up Floppy Disks

Slashdot reader quonset writes: The last floppy disk was manufactured in 2011. Although no new hardware has been available in over a decade, there are still people and organizations that rely on floppy disks. Everyone has their own story as to why they rely on technology that’s essentially from the 1970s.

From the BBC:

Tom Persky, an American businessman, has been selling “new”, that is to say unopened, floppy disks for years and still finds the business lucrative. He runs, which offers discs for around US$1 (£0.80) each, although some larger capacity versions cost up to US$10 (£8) per disc, he says. Persky has customers all over the world and you can split them roughly 50-50 between hobbyists and enthusiasts like Espen Kraft on one side and industrial users on the other. This last category includes people who use computers at work that require floppy disks to operate. They’re essentially locked into a format that the rest of the world has largely forgotten.

“I still sell thousands of floppy disks to the airline industry,” Persky says. He refuses to give more details. “Companies aren’t happy when I talk about it.” But it is well known that some Boeing 747s, for example, use floppy disks to load critical software updates into their navigation and avionics computers. While these older planes may not be so common in Europe or the United States these days, you might find one in developing countries, for example, Persky hints. There are also factory equipment, government systems – or even animatronic characters – that still rely on floppy disks.

And in San Francisco, the Muni Metro light rail, launched in 1980, won’t start each morning unless the staff in charge take a floppy disk and slide it into the computer that controls the automatic train control system, or ATCS. . “You have to tell the computer what it is supposed to do each day,” explains a spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency (SFMTA). “Without a hard drive, there is nowhere to permanently install software.”

This computer has to be restarted this way several times, he adds: it can’t just be left on for fear of its memory degrading.

The article also includes this quote from a cybersecurity expert at Pen Test Partners. “If the floppy disk were the only interface, the only way to introduce malware onto (the computer) would be via the floppy disk. That’s a pretty limiting factor for the attacker…”

News Source :
Gn tech

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