Last week Dan relayed the announcement by Sony that they were killing off floppy disk production in his article So Long 3.5? Floppy… We Hardly Remember You Anyhow…, and we all had a good chuckle.
But for some folks, using a floppy is part of their daily reality. The BBC brings us a light look at folks still using floppy disks. But while many focus on silly things such as:
15. I buy about 100,000 floppies per year as I have a business that makes them into drinks mats, fridge magnets and toast racks.
Ken Pork, London
The reality is there are still loads of real-world uses out there for floppy disks – including many that will be impacted as the storage media are eliminated. Here are a few:
3. In the aviation industry they are still used to update firmware on ticket printers.
9. Believe it or not, most if not all ATM (cashpoint) programming is installed direct to the machine from a floppy disk. With all of the ATMs available in just the UK with many additional copies made to support each machine in a region… this could amount to a huge stockpile of disks hanging around for each bank and/or private ATM manufacturer.
16. In the automotive industry in the US many plastic parts are made in machines that are 20-30 years old. I go through floppies fairly regularly because we’ll need to access a robot or punch press or milling machine or something else that has no other form of external media access.
25. An unusual use is sewing machines – there are top-end models that accept embroidery designs stored either on a special cartridge on floppy disk.
39. In the film industry, many telecine machines (for scanning film to tape) output meta-data onto a floppy disk. These machines are very expensive so they’re not something that’s upgraded on a frequent basis.
Jon, Los Angeles, CA, USA
As well as the governments in Malaysia (19), Panama (24), Romania (27), United Kingdom (30, 31, 33, 34), Peru (32), and Mexico (38).
Personally my last regular floppy disk usage dried up two years ago when I switched jobs … but before that I had to have a stack of floppy disks because much of the metrology equipment used in semiconductor manufacturing – including a $1.5MM tool I worked in a joint project to develop – had floppy-based storage systems for parameter transfer. Since more and more were going to full network automation, adding complex USB systems didn’t make sense.
So … do you have any actual real-world uses of floppy disks?