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The End of the 3.5-inch Floppy Continues 472

Posted by timothy
from the finally-we-can-standardize-on-bernoulli dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "In a brief press release buried within Sony Japan's website, the company announced that it would be ending sales of the classic 3.5-inch diskette in the country in March 2011. Sony introduced the size to the world in 1981, and it saw its heyday in the 1990s. Sony has been one of the last major manufacturers to continue shipments of the disk type it helped develop, but had ended most worldwide sales in March of this year. The company's production of the 3.5-inch floppy ceased in 2009. Sony noted demand, or lack thereof, as the reason. The company's withdrawal is one of the final acts in the slow death of the floppy era."
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The End of the 3.5-inch Floppy Continues

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  • Reminder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mseeger (40923) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:19AM (#31973142)
    I needed the anouncement of the floppy disk demise as reminder that it is not already dead. Bought my last disk at least a decade ago....
    • Re:Reminder (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sepultura (150245) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:37AM (#31973258)

      If you just look at the PC market you're right - floppies have been out of fashion for quite some time, and I don't think I've used one in at least a decade either, although I know some individuals in education who still have all of their crucial data (exams, assignments, custom s/w for their field, etc.) on 3.5"s.

      However, where this really could cause problems is in some embedded systems. For some reason a lot of manufacturers of CNC equipment, like VMCs or even embroidery machines, stuck with the ubiquitous floppy for far too long. I know at least as late as 05-06 Haas CNC was still using floppies.

      It looks to me like makers of floppy to usb adapters [floppytousb.com] are going to be in for a boon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bearhouse (1034238)

        If your hardware & software supports USB and floppy via UBA emulation - not always the case for some of the implementations you mention

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        However, where this really could cause problems is in some embedded systems. For some reason a lot of manufacturers of CNC equipment, like VMCs or even embroidery machines, stuck with the ubiquitous floppy for far too long. I know at least as late as 05-06 Haas CNC was still using floppies.

        That's OK, people will still be making 3.5" floppies for a long time. I suppose the easiest option for long-term support of such devices would be to emulate the floppy drive itself, and make a memory card reader that plugged into a floppy bus. You'd write the floppy data and it would pretend to be a floppy drive. Really fancy ones would need partition table support so they could select from one of several files; cheapies would just treat the address as an offset and spew whatever was in the flash.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by couchslug (175151)

        I stash good quality floppy drives when I part out systems, as well as motherboards (incl CPU and RAM) with ISA slots. My friends who have machine shops can use the spares.

        Protip:
        Floppy drives from old HP servers are excellent, and likely only used for drivers during OS reloads.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rjch (544288)

      Someone really ought to let Microsoft know about this... after all, despite three service packs, Windows XP and Server 2003 still requires a floppy drive in order to load drivers for non-standard hardware (including SATA drives not in emulation mode) that will need to be accessed as part of installation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jawtheshark (198669) *

        I have installed XP on numerous SATA-only machines using a WinXP Pro Volume License CD with only SP2 (and later SP3) without any problem. No, they didn't have emulation at all.

        Yes, a SP1 or even SP0 will need the manufacturer disks, but not anything beyond.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        You can use nLite to bundle the drivers right on to the installation CD. And seeing as how Microsoft is well on it's way to phasing out XP, I doubt they'll be interested in modifying the install process.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nimey (114278)

        Not entirely true. You can integrate DriverPacks.net's drivers into an XP (and I'd assume Server '03) ISO image and burn it. I've done one of those with every driver those folks had available two years ago: storage, LAN, sound, video, chipset, wireless, even the AMD Cool & Quiet CPU driver. I further customized that with nLite so it wouldn't ask for a license key and had a few minor customizations.

        Works very well.

    • AOL (Score:5, Funny)

      by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:31AM (#31973652)
      Bought? Were you working in the purchasing department of AOL?
  • How hard is it to actually operate an obsolete system with something vaguely like the original parts? It's in an awkward gap: too obsolete for modern mass-production to be willing to sell you, yet too complicated for you to DIY it. This makes for an odd gap of basically unmaintainable infrastructure. If you want to maintain infrastructure based on pen, paper, and the abacus, you're good. And if you want to stay on the current state-of-the-art for technology (or within a few years of it), you're also good.

    But there's this weird gap in between. What if you want to play Nintendo games on a CRT fed by an RF adapter? Better either stock up on a bunch of legacy parts that were made before they stopped mass-producing them; or: find some way to ramp up your DIY tech to be able to produce that level of part; or: manage to implement something close enough in software so that your emulator is good enough.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by tepples (727027)

      What if you want to play Nintendo games on a CRT fed by an RF adapter?

      All cartridge-based Nintendo consoles that have RF output also have composite output, except for the Japan-only original Famicom and the rare top-loading NES. The front-loading NES, as well as all Super NES, N64, GameCube, and Wii consoles, has a composite video output.

      or: manage to implement something close enough in software so that your emulator is good enough.

      In that case, you still need to ramp up your DIY tech in order to make a cartridge reader so that you can copy your Game Paks to the PC to make ROM files for use in an emulator. Retrode doesn't support NES yet.

    • by SIGBUS (8236) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:44AM (#31973290) Homepage

      This seems to be true with technology in general. Railway museums are a good example of this; the steam locomotives with their more-or-less blacksmith level technology have a better future as working exhibits than 1930s-era diesels. The restoration of the Flying Yankee [flyingyankee.com] streamliner required a great deal of effort to recreate the long-out-of-production injectors for its obsolete diesel engine.

      As another example, the Seattle Museum of Communications [museumofco...ations.org] has several working telephone switches representing a variety of different switching technologies. The most recent of these is a Western Electric #3 ESS, a small computer-controlled analog switch that was built in small quantities and was obsolescent when it rolled off the production line. It has a variety of proprietary chips that will never be made again, and spare parts are extremely scarce since most of the #3s built were scrapped. Contrast that with the 1920s-era panel switch, a Rube Goldberg contraption for which parts could be fabricated by any competent machine shop.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Great examples, thanks! It's something I think about periodically, which seems to relate to different kinds of steady states. There are some things that, at any reasonable point in the future, we can expect to recreate if we need to. But there are other things that are very dependent on the precise current conditions, which sounds uncomfortably chaotic. If you take "what 100 smart people could recreate in a year if they had to" as our safe fall-back position, there's increasingly a really large gap between

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hitmark (640295)

          and these days we are becoming more and more dependent on large corporate production facilities that end up becoming "to large to fail".

      • by hitmark (640295) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:23AM (#31973576) Journal

        i wonder if there should be some kind of public domain requirement for obsoleting stuff like that. Basically, when production is shut down, all specs and production processes are handed over to some archive in human readable form.

        • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @11:15AM (#31974648) Journal
          Even if you can read it, you cannot rebuild it so easily.

          There are so many dependencies and inter-dependencies.

          Say, we get nuked to stone age, even if you knew how to build everything, to rebuild something like an Intel chip fab would be extremely difficult. If the pure silicon crystals have been destroyed, you will need to grow from the small seed crystal to big wafer size. That takes time. Next who can supply you the pure water, the filters, the other consumables?

          Just rebuilding the Apollo "rocket to the moon" stuff would not be easy. Lots of the _unwritten_ knowledge has been lost - not everything is written down or can be. I won't be surprised if the records of what have been lost have been lost too :).

          "Rebooting" a high tech civilisation will take many years.

          We also have a very fragile civilization. With all the "Just-in-time" operations you can be ruined by one uncooperative volcano in Iceland. Just "interrupt the blood flow" for a while, and everything goes poof. Hopefully the leaders of the various nations know that so they don't get any stupid ideas and send us to stone age.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The "various nations" that would "have stupid ideas" and decide to "[nuke us] into the stone age" just so happen to already live in a weird spot where they're in the stone age but they have AK-47s.
    • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:51AM (#31973332) Homepage

      How hard is it to actually operate an obsolete system with something vaguely like the original parts?

      A bit like maintaining a classic car, I suppose: a combination of using old replacement part stocks, and (occasionaly) newly fabricated parts where it doesn't hurt the overall look & feel. Or hurts the owner's taste...

      If you're careful with your classic [whatever] and don't use it everyday, such old stocks can go a long way. And there's always the option to take 3 halfway broken ones, and make 2 working ones out of those.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        It does feel weirdly like living on borrowed time, though. It's something that, apparently, nobody can make anymore, but you can straggle on because at some point in the past they made a whole lot of them.

      • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:36AM (#31973690)

        Yeah, but beware of the myth of the 'parts car'. The same components tend to wear out on all examples of a series. My neighbour bought two 'classic' cars - one supposedly the 'runner', and the other as a reserve of spare parts.
        Since he was not really good at car repairs, I was round his place every weekend, (he WAS good at sharing his stock of excellent wine...)
        Guess what - whenever something broke on the 'good' car, the equivalent on the 'parts' car was just as busted...

    • by arielCo (995647)

      How hard is it to actually operate an obsolete system with something vaguely like the original parts?

      You don't - either recycle it or set up a time capsule for it [slashdot.org]. I'm sure you have better things to do with your time on Earth.

      Technology falls behind - get used to it. What if I want to keep writing my letters in a mechanic typewriter? What if I miss New Coke [wikipedia.org]? Unless I can afford my own metalworking shop / chemical plant / brewery AND have the time to spare, I'll have to roll with the times. As for nostalgia, you may well have an objective appraisal of the newer stuff. It's not like Doom beats the snot out o

  • Ever tried to get a driver for your HD controller into Windows during setup?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151)

      "Ever tried to get a driver for your HD controller into Windows during setup?"

      Once, years ago, at which point I discovered slipstreaming (much love for nlite) and never looked back.

      • Yeah, it's a shame that you need a working Windows installation to do that. I remember my first Windows 95 install and I really struggled with it until I discovered that you could boot from the CD-ROM.

        Later on, especially with new hardware, it's only nLite that enables you to install the OS. I haven't built a machine with a floppy drive in many years. It's a joke that XP couldn't use flash drives - the format had been more popular than floppies for some time.

    • by Zumbs (1241138)
      Fortunately, someone came up with the idea of slipstreaming the drivers into the Windows CD/DVD.
      • Due to copyright law, nobody can sell you a slipstreamed XP disc but Microsoft, and Microsoft would rather sell you a copy of a new operating system that needs more CPU, more RAM, and more battery power, and has less support for the applications and peripherals that you already use.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Luckily, slipstreaming your own XP disc is fairly trivial, and can even be done on Linux. I've done it by hand and with a tool, on Windows and on Linux, and when it works it's great :p It's the drivers that resist slipstreaming that I find problematic, although supposedly some tools will package them back from an installed system for you.

    • by brain159 (113897)

      Create a variant install disc with the drivers slipstreamed in. In fact, the odds are pretty good you can get away with just slipstreaming Service Pack 3 (assuming you mean Windows XP).

      http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/xpsp3_slipstream.asp [winsupersite.com] has full walkthrough.

    • by kenh (9056) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:30AM (#31973202) Homepage Journal

      Windows 2008 allows you to use USB keys, CD-ROMs, USB floppy drives and other means to get the driver into the OS.

      Windows Server 2003 still wants a floppy disk, but there are ways around it - many server mfgs provide "virtual" floppy drives, USB floppy drives are supported, and slipstreaming the driver onto the install media is another option.

      Let's not forget that Windows Server 2003 came out about 7 years ago, just because you are installing it today doesn't change the operating system.

  • I hope... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CondeZer0 (158969) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:24AM (#31973170) Homepage

    that it doesn't take this long for all other non-solid-state storage to die.

    The day when hardisk crashes and unreadable disks are things of the past is long over due.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by muindaur (925372)

      Price is still a major hurdle to that hope. It's more than 3K for a 1TB SSD right now and $120 for a 30GB SSD(the same price as a 1TB SATA drive.)

      In time it will replace it but not in the near future unless the prices drop to a reasonable level for a market shift.

    • Re:I hope... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:47AM (#31973308) Homepage Journal

      The day when hardisk crashes and unreadable disks are things of the past is long over due.

      Solid-state storage may be more reliable than floppies, but it's not perfect. I've had a USB flash drive, an SD card, and two SD card readers fail on me. And an SSD still won't prevent file system corruption when you have hardware issues elsewhere.

      • I have a pocket flash drive that I've run through the wash twice and it still works. That is considerably better than most magnetic storage.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Yup. My most recently found USB drive was a nice 2GB one that I found in a *dryer* at the laundromat. I highly doubt any magnetic storage could deal with the flooding of soap and water followed by 45 minutes of heat.
      • by megrims (839585)

        From my experience, it seems like solid state storage tends to break when the circuit board is flexed, even a little bit. Hence CompactFlash > SD-Cards.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        that a card reader fails is a inconvenience, but not a tragedy, unlike the failure of the actual card (unless the reader fails in such a way that it manages to corrupt whatever is on the card).

        this is one worry i have with the lack of two part storage devices that can match HDDs in capacity. At least if the reader breaks you can potentially replace it (unless the media is so old its no longer available, but then there is format shifting. that is, unless its under DRM. Curse you media corporations!). In that

        • And iirc, CF have all its logics in the reader, not the card.

          CompactFlash is parallel ATA in a different form factor. A lot of early SSDs for PCs were CF cards plugged into a wire adapter (Google cf ide). The electronics for a USB CompactFlash writer and a USB ATA enclosure are almost identical, except that the CF writer will have more robust hot swapping. You're thinking of SmartMedia and xD-Picture cards, which really are just a NAND flash chip on a package. And CF isn't perfect either; I've lost a writer to bent pins.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Even when you add to the equation an adequate, for home user, backup machine (those small cheap NAS for example)...HDD storage still ends up significantly cheaper; and it should remain so for quite some time. Especially since there is some talk of another upcoming breakthrough in HDD tech (of course who knows if this talk is not also partly to calm investors in times when SSD have arrived)

      (plus you should have backup & its added cost with SSD, too)

  • by ScottySniper (1699386) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:25AM (#31973178)
    I know how they feel. There's also a lack of demand for my 3.5 inch floppy...
  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:27AM (#31973186) Journal

    It didn't help that with the growth of rich content, and growing sophistication (i.e. software bloat), that typical files sizes have reached or exceeded 1.44 MB. Figure Fry's today had a 32 GB thumb-drive on sale for $59.95. That's 22,756 "1.44 MB floppy disks", in a form factor that's less than 1/10th the size of the floppy. I recently found a cache of old disks, and I'm wondering what would be an environmentally friendly way to dispose of the little space wasters???

    • by Dialecticus (1433989) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:37AM (#31973256)

      I recently found a cache of old disks, and I'm wondering what would be an environmentally friendly way to dispose of the little space wasters???

      Skeet.

    • Figure Fry's today had a 32 GB thumb-drive on sale for $59.95.

      True, a USB flash drive is good for carrying your own files around. But floppies, CD-R, and DVD-R have the advantage of being so cheap they're disposable, which lets you give a copy of a file to someone else.

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        True, a USB flash drive is good for carrying your own files around. But floppies, CD-R, and DVD-R have the advantage of being so cheap they're disposable, which lets you give a copy of a file to someone else.

        If the file you want to give away can fit on a floppy, you're better off just e-mailing it.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          unless the person needs the files to get online in the first place. Like say drivers for a network card...

          have happened to me, and my solution was to "waste" a CDR on the person (the file took up about 1% of the capacity of the cd).

        • E-mail isn't helpful if you happen to be away from Internet access at the time you want to send the file. Nor is it helpful if the file is a computer program; many e-mail clients delete computer programs from e-mail attachments because they can't tell your legit program from a worm.
      • by hitmark (640295)

        a 10-pack of small thumb drives would have been lovely. Thing is that what i see around storage lately is that the price stays level, but the capacity slowly climbs. Basically, as production processes improve, its being used to create higher capacity devices, while the price level is maintained. I wonder if the prices on storage devices have hit the "pain" threshold, where if it drops any lower, there is no profit to be had on the sale.

        • by tepples (727027)

          I wonder if the prices on storage devices have hit the "pain" threshold, where if it drops any lower, there is no profit to be had on the sale.

          That's how it has always been explained to me. Nobody wants to spend the research and development money to cut costs to make a disposable USB flash drive because disposable writable media already exist in the form of CD-R and DVD+R.

      • by kybred (795293)

        But floppies, CD-R, and DVD-R have the advantage of being so cheap they're disposable, which lets you give a copy of a file to someone else.

        But how do I email the floppy to them?

    • http://www.greendisk.com/ [greendisk.com] for disk recycling. I use them often, but am not affiliated with them.
  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:29AM (#31973198) Journal

    RIP FDD :(

  • Reasons I like floppies:

    1. Give-away-able - if I want to give someone a file, I can hand them a floppy with it on. No, not every circumstance involves having Internet access and not every document should be sent across the tubes. Nor does everyone who I want to give something to necessarily have a computer on them for me to slot my USB key into.

    2. Long-life - most of my floppies from the '80s and '90s are still readable. Can't say the same for hard drives, and certainly not so for CDs/DVDs a few years old.

    • In before, "They have 4s now, grandad."

      Dammit.

      • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:45AM (#31973298)

        Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one:

        And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:48AM (#31973322)

      1: CDs are give-able too.
      2: Maybe in the 80s they made quality floppies. Anything you can buy today is a complete piece of shit that has a 50% chance of not being readable by another machine 5 minutes after being recorded.
      3: Slightly faster than burning, but recording a full floppy still takes some time definitely not instant.
      The second 3 which you presumably meant to be 4: how many modern computers even have floppy drives in them? Floppy booting support still sucks, but CD booting is very common on any hardware made in the last decade or so, and next to universal to anything younger than 5 years.

      But I do wish we had disposable USB drives. If they now sell 32GB USB drives for $60, why can't they make a 256MB USB drive for $1? It's not like the material cost of a few grams of plastic is higher than a buck, and the manufacturing technology has been around for ages. That to me is the threshhold price of disposability.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tepples (727027)

        Slightly faster than burning, but recording a full floppy still takes some time definitely not instant.

        "no fucking burning": you don't have to start a separate application (such as Nero, InfraRecorder, or Brasero) and create a "new project" to put files on a floppy. Instead, floppies mount like SD cards or USB flash drives (or more accurately vice versa).

        But I do wish we had disposable USB drives. If they now sell 32GB USB drives for $60, why can't they make a 256MB USB drive for $1?

        USB is still patented. Even after the patents expire sometime around 2020, there's still the cost of a connector, a PCB, a case, and a drive controller, which don't vary based on capacity. It's not like CD-R, where you can go from jewel boxes to a spindle to

        • by sznupi (719324)

          As for very cheap USB drives, there are still some options - look up Data Traveler Mini Slim from Kingston. I'm sure it can be made even simpler / cheaper; with the case using even less material than DT Mini Slim and being one block of plastic, or with controller and flash integrated in one chip.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            My favorite is the OCZ Secure Digital Dual, it fits into SD on one end, and USB on the other. It's the size of an SD card, smaller really if you take off the little SD-format-fitter, which is unnecessary in most applications. It only makes it bigger and shields the USB connector, which is static-protected anyway.

        • by hitmark (640295)

          technically, xp or later can do basic burning. But its a odd process in that one open the cd/dvd-rom in the file manager and then drop files into that window.

          also, anything below cd-rw are worm media, once written, cant be altered. Ok, you can give the illusion, by writing multiple tracks, but that eats up space equal to the full size of the file multiple times. And a CD-rw can only be rewritten about 1000 times, thanks to a cd-r based calibration area. Not sure if the problem exists on a dvd-rw tho.

    • Inflation (Score:4, Interesting)

      by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:09AM (#31973476) Homepage
      Flash drives today cost less than floppy disks in 1988.

      Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts $1.00 in 1988 at $1.87 today, the real rate of inflation is much higher. From a popular perception standpoint, Wal-Mart's low prices are masking the double-digit inflation in healthcare, education, and housing (prices are still historically high relative to wages). From a BLS calculation standpoint, BLS pulls dirty tricks like considering only rents instead of home purchase price, considering that houses in West Virginia are equivalent to houses in Arlington, Virginia because they're in the same Census Metropolitan Statistical Area, and considering that an actual DVD player price should be adjusted down 50% because it's technologically superior to a VCR.

      Shadowstats.com, which uses pre-Clinton formulas to compute CPI, now has a free calculator [shadowstats.com]. Without a subscription, it requires Photoshop to measure the bar heights, but I've measured that $1.00 in 1988 is over $5.00 today.

      512MB USB thumb drives can be had for $3.99 [ewiz.com].

      And that's compared to a 3.5" floppy disk. To try to add some fairness, I avoided a comparison with 5.25" floppies in 1982, which were $1.50 then.

      When new formats are introduced, there is a discontinuity in prices. It makes for a sawtooth graph. You're cherry-picking the edge of the sawtooth and whining about it.

    • by kerrbear (163235)

      I don't know what kind of 3.5s you were buying but mine failed regularly. I think I still have some in storage and I would wager they are all hosed. But I dunno, maybe I was buying the cheapo floppies. I can't remember.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      1. Give-away-able

      Yet, for most of the last decade, blank CD-ROMs have been cheaper than blank floppies ever were. I think that there is a psychology problem there: CD-ROMs "feel" more valuable than floppies because of the price of music CDs.

      Although you dismiss email, I think that is the main reason for the lack of interest in a FD replacement. In my experience, people even use email for sneakernet - they send the email, print off a copy and walk down the corridor to discuss it.

      There does seem to be a gap in the market fo

      • Agreed on the reason for the lack of predominant standard replacement - good summary. A good quality CD-R might cost about the same as a floppy disc today, although I can't stand the physical waste of using one (even with old magazine cover floppies people got to know which used good enough media to blank and repurpose). Perhaps I should see a CD-R as a floppy reusable about 400 times - if only all drives+operating systems did.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bearhouse (1034238)

      Reason I hate floppies:

      Sector not found. Abort, Retry, Ignore?

  • I can't wait for the mainframe to finally succomb to market realities and die - the mainframe has been on the verge of extinction for my entire career in computing, which started in the mid-80's...

    To borrow a line from Monty Python, "(It's) not dead yet! [youtube.com]"

    • Probably going to be waiting a while. Mainframes are still heavily & widely used in banks.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Mainframe tech has made a huge comeback in recent years.

      Sure it is sexily bundled up, called Vmware, Xen, what not... but that's what it is - updated mainframe technology running on your PC (which btw is orders of magnitude more powerful than many corporate mainframes from the 80's). Even the term "hypervisor" harkens back from the mainframe days.

      Where have you been?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it's extremely unreliable and prone to failure and data loss. Yes, the storage space is pathetic. Yes, many modern computers don't have a drive to use it. But there are still some cases where it can be better than the alternative: when you need to record something very fast, very cheap, and very small.

    E.g.: college. Professors and instructors are still stuck in the 80s and demand students give a "physical" copy of their work, rather than accept it by e-mail or online CMS. The typical college student, n

  • Guess I gotta hoard some drives and floppies for my ancient data recovery and preservation projects soon.
  • So many failures...Betacam, CD, Hi8, miniDV, HDV, DAT, S/PDIF, AIBO; (some in collaboration)

    • by srussia (884021)
      So many failures...Betacam, CD, Hi8, miniDV, HDV, DAT, S/PDIF, AIBO; (some in collaboration)

      If you consider these failures, how would you describe the minidisc?
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      You can add the Memory Stick to that list. It's not a failure as such, but why did Sony create their own memory media standard when there was already too many options on the market? Same thing goes for the xD-Picture Card of Fujifilm and Olympus.

    • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Sunday April 25, 2010 @10:05AM (#31974006)

      I can't work out if you're being sarcastic or not.

      DAT dropped right off the radar, superceded by MiniDisc in the pro market. Betacam was the standard in professional video for years, and has evolved into HDCAM and continues to go on. If you watched TV in the late 80s, the 90s and all of the 2000's then you have definitely watched a *lot* of VT coming of a Betacam deck. HDV has firmly established itself in the consumer market, and you pretty much get s/pdif for free on all audio gear these days.

      Hi8 had a brief time in the spotlight, but was always destined to fail since S-VHS tapes had the physical compatibility bonus going for them, where Hi8 was stuck as an incompatible tape size.

  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:52AM (#31973350)

    Sony can't fit a decent rootkit on a floppy...

  • As I remember, just a few years ago you needed a floppy to upgrade some system's bios.

  • due to scientific instruments, for which it's not uncommon to have 20-30 years lifetime, and as others have pointed out due to industrial equipment with similarly long lifetime. In CNC mills for example, replacing a part of the controller is not as easy as it sounds: it's a triple redundant machine, very conservatively tested for safety.
  • by markass530 (870112) <markass530 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday April 25, 2010 @10:01AM (#31973954) Homepage
    I still remember as a 15 year old *ahem* downloading from alternate sources a copy of windows 95, then copying it to 25+ floppies and installing it. Painstaking, brutal fear of some error. It worked though.. Then when I buy a computer in 2003, and of course have no floppy drive in it (Configured on purpose that way) imagine my suprise when the only way to reinstall XP onto my sata drive is via FUCKING FLOPPY.

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