Through the viewing glass: Do you remember floppy disks? The old storage device used in computers in the 80s and 90s, but many of you reading this may have never seen or used it before. But surprisingly, they still occupy a place in one specific and unexpected place: airlines.
Long before the days of SSDs, USB drives, or even CDs and DVDs, floppy disks were used to control the computer world. There’s a good chance you haven’t used a floppy disk in a decade or two, if any. Eventually the old medium was replaced by newer and better technology until it simply fell into complete extinction – or so we thought.
Tom Persky, Founder floppydisk.comDo not agree with the idea that floppy disks are “useless” or “extinct”. Tom regularly repairs, recycles, and sells floppy disks to anyone who might want to use their old technology with their own hands. The site even has that old-fashioned feel of vintage sites from the 1990s and early 2000s, as shown below.
In a book written by Persky, he reviews some of the site’s frequent customers. Tom sells a large number of floppy disks for industrial companies. Persky writes, “Imagine it’s 1990, and you’re building a large industrial machine…you’re designing it to last 50 years and you want to use the best technology available.”
Medical professionals are also common visitors, as some devices used on patients still use floppy disks to this day, more than 50 years after their invention. There are also people, whom he calls “amateurs”, flocking to the site to “buy 10, 20 or maybe 50 floppy disks.” These groups of customers are certainly interesting, but Tom emphasizes one workplace that is constantly buying new floppy disks: airlines.
Floppy disks are in great demand, and they are a big part of Persky’s sales via floppydisk.com. “Take the aerospace industry for example. It’s possible that half of the world’s air fleet today is over 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in avionics. That’s a huge consumer.” To put that in context, in 2020, the total number of aircraft in the US commercial aircraft fleet was 7,690, and that number has likely increased since Airweb was published. Those numbers.
Persky has apparently proven that the floppy disk is not extinct and still serves some useful purpose, even if it is a less than ideal (and very delicate) storage medium.
Some countries have begun enacting laws to stay away from it for good, including Japan. Minister of Digital Technology of Japan, recently “War has been declared” on floppy disks because he wants Japan to change regulations to require companies to abandon floppy disks and CDs and move to digital storage forms in order to facilitate regulation.