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Media Data Storage Sony Hardware Technology

The End of the 3.5-inch Floppy Continues 472

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....
  • 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 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.

  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:31AM (#31973206) Journal

    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. IME a floppy is much likely to be readable in any floppy drive than a CD/DVD in a random CD/DVD drive, too.

    3. I just drag-drop; no fucking burning/converting/e-mailing/something else process!

    3. Everything boots from them. USB booting seems to be hit and miss on many motherboards, and software to support USB booting is more scarce.

  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:31AM (#31973208)
    "The end of Floppy Disks" has occurred every year for the past decade or so.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:39AM (#31973266)

    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.

    I'm actually now finding that USB sticks are give-away-able. Lots of companies are often giving away free branded usb sticks and I got another one that came with my new work laptop. So I have 3 attached to my keyring in various sizes (512mb, 1gb and 2gb) and when I need to give someone something I just hand them a stick, I normally get it back but if not it's not a biggy to me at all.

  • Re:I hope... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by muindaur ( 925372 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @08:45AM (#31973296) Journal

    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@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Reminder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rjch ( 544288 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:03AM (#31973424) Homepage

    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.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:21AM (#31973560) Journal

    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 Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @09:38AM (#31973710)

    Reason I hate floppies:

    Sector not found. Abort, Retry, Ignore?

  • by MrMr ( 219533 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @10:15AM (#31974096)
    But what will end first; The 3.5" floppy or the "the end of floppy disks is nigh" stories?
  • Re:Reminder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @10:55AM (#31974490)

    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.

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

  • 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.
  • by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @11:34AM (#31974812)

    Thankfully most of the motherboards I've purchased in the past few years allow me to load BIOS updates from USB storage. I think that was one of the last major uses for a floppy.

    But shocklingly, I've purchased a couple motherboards in the past 6 months that still require a floppy. I was like WTF and had to dig around in a box for a floppy drive. Who the hell still requires a floppy in this day and age? I don't recall what manufacturer it was but I can tell you I'll not be buying another motherboard that requires a floppy to update the BIOS. Thankfully I had a spare box of HD floppies in my drawer, but come on... really? 2010, brand new MB and I had to find a floppy?

  • by Truekaiser ( 724672 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @12:16PM (#31975228)

    updating the bios of your motherboard from a floppy is still one of the more fool proof methods of doing it. it's so easy for other programs to fsck up flashing the bios in windows, i have had to fix allot of computers after that. linux also is not a supported os on such motherboards so your stuck with what ever bios the motherboard(including laptops) ship with. you can't even make a cd to flash the bios with one of those winflash programs in such circumstances.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 25, 2010 @12:33PM (#31975442)

    It's not like Doom beats the snot out of Halo ;)

    Someone hasn't played enough Doom....

  • by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Sunday April 25, 2010 @02:30PM (#31976508)

    If you require the use of 25 year old tech for business purposes, then you are definetly not staying innovative and most likely will find it hard to compete in the market from companies that invest in new technology and innovation.

    Says who? The reason 25 year old systems stay in place is because they work, a lot of work has been done with them. What is the point of switching to Microsoft's latest version of Sharepoint if your purpose built business software (which you counted as a capitalizable cost) does everything you need it to? If it is easy to expand? If you use it to innovate? IBM makes a lot of money catering to these sorts of shops. IBM IS this sort of shop.

  • by meatmanek ( 1062562 ) on Monday April 26, 2010 @03:15AM (#31981344)

    Going back in a song or video is still called "rewinding", despite the fact that nothing we use for these media actually winds/unwinds/rewinds anymore.
    Multiple songs on a CD are still called "tracks", despite the fact that they aren't on separate tracks as they were on vinyl.
    We still "dial" a phone.

    Technology changes the way people think and how they describe things. The action (rewinding) starts to symbolize the intent (going backwards in a song), and after a while, the intent becomes the actual meaning of the word.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.