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Aug 19 2008   5:57PM GMT

The floppy hasn’t died — it’s just become virtual

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore


On Of Zen and Computing, Tom Harrison writes about the virtual floppy disk:

Floppy disks have been obsolete for a long time now, but I can see this utility coming in very handy for someone who wants to work with a set of antiquated device drivers, or perhaps relive the good ‘ol days of Commander Keen and The Oregon Trail.

I haven’t missed floppies too badly. Of the three computers in our house, only one has a floppy drive. Still we do have an antique with that capacity. Should we ever need a virtual floppy, I guess we can use it to create one.  And, what with so many manufacturers omitting the drives from computers and so many retailers no longer selling diskettes (did anyone ever call them that?), you’d have to agree that at least the physical floppy is heading for extinction.

Elsewhere on the blog, Harrison explains why the floppy deserves to be dead. Well, for starters:

Floppy Disk capacity is virtually useless

So why do away with floppies? Simply put, their capacity is a joke compared to the size of today’s files and storage mediums. A floppy disk can hold up to 1.44 megabytes of data. Just how small is that?

* The capacity of an 80 minute CD-R is 486 times larger than a floppy disk.
* The capacity of a DVD is over 5000 times larger than a floppy disk.
* The capacity of a 512mb USB drive is over 350 times larger than a floppy disk.
* The capacity of a computer with a 150 gig hard drive is over 100,000 times larger than a floppy disk.

As you can see, you’d need volumes upon volumes of floppy disks to get the same capacity as modern storage devices.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I used a floppy disk. Give me another decade and I’ll probably have gotten rid of the piles of them on my office shelves…
~ Ivy Wigmore

(Photo credit: steffenz, republished under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)

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