You may or may not have heard, and you may or may not be surprised, that Sony have recently decided to cease production of their floppy disks. Sony are (were) the largest manufacturer of floppy discs and this announcement essentially commits the 3.5″ storage device to the great electronics scrapheap in the sky.
Although I still own a USB disk drive (somewhere), their 1.44MB of space would barely allow for a single image taken on most digital cameras nowadays (let alone trying to squeeze the disk inside one!) so it’s no wonder that demand has dropped. Apple‘s G3 iMac launched with no 3.5″ disk support back in 1998, maybe with huge foresight or maybe they were simply 10years too early and missed out on a bundle of sales, but whatever the reason was Sony have now decided that the time has come for them too.
When I was reading about this in the news, it reminded me of a set of posters I came across a while ago which illustrate just how many floppy disks it would take to install and run some of our most commonly used software today. I do remember my childhood in front of an Atari and once we came across a floppy disk that had two games on it (two!), what a day that was. Imagine trying to install Photoshop from that many discs, and then having space to store them!
Posters are available from Antrepo and the artworks are by Emre Basak.
That makes approximately 46 disks for iTunes 8, 358 for Photoshop CS4, 1760 for Sims 3 and a paultry 12 for Firefox 3. Staggering that we even used them isn’t it!
I guess if you’re reading this from outside Europe you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, Sony sold an apparent 12million floppy discs in Japan alone last year!
For a few of us Europeans it does seem that we hold these retro treasures close to our hearts, even if adapting their primary function for something else. From beer mats in a retro themed pub, to ice scrapers for your car and even current CNC machine software, you can read and be inspired by the BBC’s 40 reasons we still use floppy disks. Have you stumbled across an alternative use for them, or are they just gathering dust in a drawer somewhere?
Also, do browse the “Floppy Disk Retrospective” gallery on Flickr, it’s a visual treat (especially this not so saucy pic of Bill Gates showing off).