In Some Places, 5.25″ Floppy Disks are Still in Use Today

TECH NEWS – Amazingly, the old floppy disks (not the 3.5″ version, the smallest, but the 5.25″ version, one size larger) are still in use today, and in an area considered vital to many people in a major city.


One of the SFMTA’s (San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency) train services, the Muni Metro (light rail, partially subway), uses software that is loaded from three 5.25″ floppy disks every morning. This system keeps the trains running in automatic mode on the subway system. It’s outdated, and the SFMTA knows it: the anachronism was recognized as early as 2018, so plans to upgrade the system were already underway, but the pandemic pushed back the plans, and now the disks are scheduled to be replaced between 2029 and 2030…

Jeffery Tumlin, the agency’s director of transportation, knows the system works well, but each year the risk of data corruption on the disks increases, and once a catastrophic failure occurs. Disk failures, system malfunctions, accidents. The system was first introduced in 1998 with a life expectancy of 20-25 years. Replacing the disk with another one does not work: Sony stopped production of the last Mohawk in 2010, and the disks will only last 10-20 years with proper storage. Boeing’s now-retired 747s were partially retrofitted with 3.5″ floppies in 2020, and the US nuclear weapons system relied on a floppy-based computer system until 2019. But the planes have been retired, and nuclear missiles cannot be activated from a floppy disk.

In the 1990s, floppy disks were still often used to distribute shareware games, but as the 3.5″ floppy disk holds about 1.44 megabytes, their time passed quickly, and they were replaced first by CDs, then DVDs and Blu-ray discs, and nowadays it is rare to find a Blu-ray drive (or burner) in a PC…

Source: PCGamer,

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