Funeral for a (Floppy) Friend

Earlier this week, Sony announced that they were, in fact, not going to produce new 3.5″ disks. The venerable format began in the early 80’s and reached the height of its popularity in the mid-90’s. I can’t recall the last time I actually used a floppy disk – it’s been so long…

Back in those days, users would dance the “floppy shuffle”, which referred to the frequent swapping of floppy disks during a typical software install from that period. It was not uncommon in some cases to swap between 10 to 15 discs for some of the larger apps of that era.

I do remember buying a ton of 3.5″ disks (800k variety) for my Apple IIGS. When I moved to a PC, I bought 1.44MB floppies. The last machine I purchased that came with a floppy disk drive was my first desktop Mac, a PowerComputing PowerTower 180e, back in 1996.

Technology marches on, but I’ll always have my memories. What was your first machine with the floppy disk? What was your last? Sound off in the comments below!

-Krishna

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • NicolaReply
    April 29, 2010 at 12:49 am

    It’s been a while since I’ve used it, but I actually still do have a 3.5″ drive on my desktop. I’ve been transferring it from PC to PC since 1996. I don’t even know if the thing is still functional, but I guess nostalgia beats functionality :-)

    I have to test it some day… and maybe, just maybe, I could read my first programs that I wrote in BASIC and Turbo Pascal from all those years ago!

  • ScottReply
    April 29, 2010 at 3:11 am

    We still use them in the computer electronics program at my university. There are a lot of machines that still rely on them for input and output.
    In industry, it is often prohibitively expensive to replace components/entire systems every time the newest thing comes out. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  • JasonReply
    April 29, 2010 at 5:38 am

    I love the ASCII to ASCII, DOS to DOS line. That was awesome.

    Actually I remember when I was in Electronics classes that we learned how to REPAIR 3.5″ floppy drives because they were so expensive.

    Other than that the last computer that I’ve had with a floppy was a Dell laptop, the the floppy drive wasn’t built-in. Instead it was swappable with the CD-Burner.

  • L.Z.Reply
    April 29, 2010 at 7:10 am

    The ASCII to ASCII, DOS to DOS line was perfect!! It’s always good to conjur up a little nostalgia from time to time. And your timing couldn’t have been better.

  • GilReply
    April 29, 2010 at 7:27 am

    I must agree with L.Z. “ASCII to ASCII, DOS to DOS” is an inspired, brilliant line! Well done! :-D

  • GJBReply
    April 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Definitely a good line there.

    First computer with a floppy – Apple //e
    Last computer with a floppy – PowerMac 7500 (upgraded)
    Still have several computers sitting around with floppy drives. I really need to get around to getting the data off of them and onto a hard drive.

  • NikonMDReply
    April 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    1984 – Mac 128K – a box of 5 400K Apple 3.5″ floppies cost $50.

  • ToviasReply
    April 29, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Years ago, while cleaning out an old software locker, I became the proud owner of the unopened boxes of the floppy disk versions of Microsoft Office and Lotus 1-2-3. They were obsolete when I found them in 2004 but I still hang on to them in some kind of weird remembrance of the past.

  • RickReply
    April 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    3.5″ disks? I started with 8″ floppies, and I still have a couple of them around here. Then 5-1/4″ floppies came out, with all the different ways of formatting them. There were 3″ and 2″ floppies too (Amstrad and Zenith MiniSport).

  • tmcelmurryReply
    April 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I can’t even remember my first, must’ve been an HP my folks bought when they finally got rid of their Tandy. It had a 3.5″ bay and 5.25″ bay, very slick. :) The last one I ever bought was for our office. I purchased a Dell Optiplex about 3 years ago and had them install a 3.5″ drive on it, cause believe it or not we still have clients that send us their data on an array of 3.5″ disks.

    Currently I’ve had to purchase two 3.5″ USB floppy drives in the last 4 months, because we still have clients sending us their data on that media, and we continue to have to send it back to them that way. These are tough clients to support, cause believe it or not I have two of the Dentists offices we support still running Windows 98SE on their system, cause their main software is an emulation software so they didn’t feel any need to upgrade their O.S. at all. It’s such a major shock to them when one of their systems die and they suddenly realize they can’t get a 3.5″ disk drive (easily) on a system anymore. It took us literally 2 months to train them how to backup to CD.

  • LonReply
    April 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Agree with L.Z.

  • SeamusReply
    April 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Krishna…this comic actually made me a bit sad…Especially since I started on Mainframes and 8″ floppies were in use then for the few portable machines out there….Shoot I still have a couple of drawers full of old 3.5″ floppies….Though the only system left in my house with a floppy drive is mine, it’s 5yrs old and I had to ADD it to the system so I could get some old documents and store them on CD…..I’ve got to say that they did last quite some time even with the innovations in storage.

  • dgriff13Reply
    April 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    It’s hard to imagine a time when I used floppies… but I know I did. hell, zip discs seem like forever ago and I swore by them for college.

  • hariReply
    April 29, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    All I remember about floppies are that the 3.5″ ones were notoriously unreliable while the 5.25″ ones were decent.

    I still remember booting my first Linux installation off a boot floopy. The boot floppy usually failed after 3 or 4 boots and I had to write a new boot floppy. :)

  • CraigReply
    April 30, 2010 at 12:48 am

    I have an original 1984 Macintosh sitting in the corner and the programs for it have the operating system and the application (sometimes several applications) all on a 400k diskette!

  • ThomasReply
    April 30, 2010 at 2:18 am

    I started with a Commodore C64 with 5,25″ disks. We had a special tool to punch holes in the opposite side to make the backside writeable, too.
    PCs of my first customers used two 5,25″ drives with no harddisk.
    Still have a 3,5″ drive at work and at home. Use it to transfer my oooold data to a backup drive.
    Backups: The hell. Still have a pile of 85(!) 5,25″ floppies, but the backup program cannot deal with the fast machines of today. And the disk format was like 1,6 MB and unreadable without the program.
    Well, there goes a part of my personal electronic history.
    And a friend of mine used a C64 as his mailbox server (1988) until the boot disk had a see-through ring in the middle and ceased to work.
    These were some interesting, and yes, very expensive days. 5,25″ DD certified cost about a buck apiece. And the 3,5 HD were not cheap, either.
    And yet, fond memories, indeed.
    Greetings from Berlin, Germany

  • Kevin RubinReply
    April 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I got my first floppy disks to use with my junior high’s TRS-80’s. The Radio Shack brand ones were thick and heavy and about $5 each. Once I bought my first computer, an Apple //e, I switched to buying Maxell floppies in boxes of 10, and Elephant ones, and my father got a deal on 100 Wabash, which went bad faster than the others…

    I don’t think I got a 3.5″ disk drive until the mid-90’s. Before that all my college friends and I just kept the covers off our computers so we could easily add and remove drives to carry to each other’s computers for temporary usage…

    In storage in the U.S. I’ve got a collection of them, including a 2.88MB 3.5″ drive and a box of 10 extra-high density disks to go with it (though I’ve never actually used it).

    Here in India I haven’t used a floppy since I gave my PC away to a former colleague (he was a poor kid and didn’t expect to earn enough money to buy his own computer for a couple of years, and thrilled to get my unused, obsolete machine). Even then it was kind of pointless, I don’t think any disk I’ve used in India has lasted more than a couple of uses before being unreadable. Must be the dirt and dust (I suspect there’s lots of metallic particles in the dust).

  • Theala SildorianReply
    April 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Ah, the floppy.

    I had a 5 1/4″ with my Apple IIe, and felt lucky to have it; a friend had a tape drive with his C64, and it took FOREVER to load anything. Had the Apple until about 12 years ago, but hadn’t used it in years. Had 3.5 floppies with all my PC’s, and the PCs I use at work still have 3.5 drives in them. Some of my colleagues still use floppies for data, and I actually had a student who insisted on handing in his work on 3.5 floppys instead of using email (he didn’t have internet at home to email it to me) as recently at 4 years ago.

    I’ve got a ton of floppy’s from my PC days, with loads of data I haven’t had time to convert to CD. I have a USB floppy drive for my Mac that works just fine, but I won’t mourn the demise of the format.

  • oldmacheadReply
    April 30, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Mac Plus! After using 5-1/4″ floppies on an Osborne (I still have one in my garage) and a PC, it was a thrill to handle the little 3.5″ floppies. I still have MS-Word v.1 and MS-Excel v.1 – on floppies. Probably still have Mac OS6 and 7 somewhere – all on floppies!! ;-)

  • AxoniteReply
    April 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    First computer with a floppy – C64 with a 5.25″ floppy, and later I had the 3.5″ drive for it too.

    Last one with a floppy – a spare parts PC that’s currently in the attic. I had a program for it that could read the Commodore 3.5″ disks.

  • coiusReply
    May 1, 2010 at 3:47 am

    I coulda sworn I saw another comic up there, that was like “Newer” than this… What happened? Didn’t like the outcome? I thought it was pretty cool :P

    btw, victory laptops ftw, especially when scoring a new job (which I am about to do soon)

    • krishnaReply
      May 1, 2010 at 7:24 am

      I liked the old version I had up, but I liked the new version I came up with even better. :) BTW, congrats on the new job! Enjoy the new laptop!

  • Adrian ChrysanthouReply
    May 1, 2010 at 4:38 am

    Commodore 64 was my first with any type of floppy. And my last was a Compaq Presario 5000(2001), and a ECS Desknote i – Buddie 4 (2002) with an external floppy drive.

  • tulleReply
    May 1, 2010 at 9:21 am

    First: My dads IBM PS2 with windows 3.11 on it. I don’t remember using any floppys, but tetris was loads of fun for a five year old kid.
    Last: My current custom-built PC. Last time I used was when I found a laptop with a 486 in it and wanted to see if it could run 3.11. One OS contained in only 8.64 megs? Marvelous!

  • Ben WaranowitzReply
    May 16, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Heck, you guys make me feel OLD! I worked on IBM systems that had 1MB 8 inch floppies. And mainframe systems that used 1/2 inch tapes on banks of tape drives. We even had huge tubes in the power supplies for the saturable reactors for regulation.

  • Ben WaranowitzReply
    May 16, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I actually AM older than dirt!

  • BeckiReply
    August 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    (Coming late to this discussion because I just learned about this strip via NIH.) The public library where I work had to include floppy drives in the computers purchased in 2007, despite our tech guys complaints, because so many of our computer users depended on them. I think if we can ever afford to buy new computers (still using the 2007s!), we’ll finally be able to say goodbye to them.

    • KrishnaReply
      August 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Welcome, Becki, to the PC Weenies!

  • FreeRoyReply
    September 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I, too, just got here, after learning about the strip from Not Invented Here.
    My first computer was an Osborne I, which used 5 1/4 ” disks — and we punched the cover to allow the use of both sides. All my desktop machines have had 5 1/4″ drives, often scrounged and specially installed, to allow me to swap data via sneaker-net.

    • KrishnaReply
      September 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Welcome, Roy, to the strip! Hope you enjoy your visit – and hope you’ll stick around :)

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