Some industries still use floppy disks. This is one of the only places to buy them
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
When I was little, it was rare for people to have computers in their homes. Then my friend's dad got one which stored data on what looked to me like an audio cassette. Then somebody got a computer that used a thing called a floppy disk. Those disks were everywhere in the 1990s and then became rare. The industry moved on to CDs and flash drives and finally just downloading data instead of physically passing it around. That's where Tom Persky comes in.
TOM PERSKY: This is a technology that is extremely stable, extremely well-understood, not really hackable, and performs an unbelievably great job for very small bits of data.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Persky is the president of floppydisk.com, one of the few places on the internet where you can still buy floppy disks.
PERSKY: The best day for me is when somebody calls me up and says, hey, we're cleaning out our warehouse. And back in the corner, we found a pallet of floppy disks, and we're about to take them to the dump. Will you take them off our hands?
INSKEEP: He will. And he'll resell them to computer hobbyists, artists, and even the airline industry.
PERSKY: If you made an airplane 20 years ago and you wanted to get the information in and out of the avionics, you would use the up-to-date, high-tech system available to you, which 20 years ago was a floppy disk.
MARTÍNEZ: As recently as 2020, British Airways still had some Boeing 747s that used floppy disks to update their navigation data.
PERSKY: For people who depend on older medical technology or older aviation technology or older industrial manufacturing technology, they're going to continue to use it for as long as it continues to serve their purposes.
MARTÍNEZ: Even people who never use a floppy disk see an image of one. A disk shows up as the save icon in many computer apps most of us use every day.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T COPY THAT FLOPPY")
ME HART: (Rapping) We protect it by law. We value so highly what the mind's eye saw. Don't copy, don't copy that floppy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.