Yahoo! News Story - Floppy Disk Becoming Relic of the Past (fwd)

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Sun Sep 19 17:26:26 2004

I told ya so!

Mon Sep 6, 5:17 PM ET

By MARK NIESSE, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA - Long the most common way to store letters, homework and other
computer files, the floppy disk is going the way of the horse upon the
arrival of the car: it'll hang around but never hold the same relevance
in everyday life.

And good riddance, say some home computer users. The march of technology
must go on.

Like the penny, the floppy drive is hardly worth the trouble, computer
makers say.

Dell Computer Corp. stopped including a floppy drive in new computers in
spring 2003, and Gateway Inc. has followed suit on some models. Floppies
are available on request for $10 to $20 extra.

"To some customers out there, it's like a security blanket," said Dell
spokesman Lionel Menchaca. "Every computer they've ever had has had a
floppy, so they still feel the need to order a floppy drive."

A few customers have complained when they found their new computers don't
have floppy drives, but it's becoming uncommon as they realize the
benefits of newer technologies, Menchaca said. Almost all new laptops
don't come with a floppy.

More and more people are willing to say goodbye to the venerable floppy,
said Gateway spokeswoman Lisa Emard.

"As long as we see customers request it, we'll continue to offer it," she
said. "We'll be happy to move off the floppy once our customers are ready
to make that move."

Some people may hesitate to abandon the floppy just because they're so
comfortable with it, said Tarun Bhakta, president of Vision Computers
outside Atlanta, one of the largest computer retailers in the South.

At his store, the basic computer model comes with all necessary
equipment, but no floppy.

"People say they want a floppy drive, and then I ask them, 'When was the
last time you used it?' A lot of the time, they say, 'Never,'" Bhakta

But plenty of regular, everyday computer users don't want to let their
floppies go.

"For my children, they can work at school and at home. I think they're a
pretty good idea," said shopper Mark Ordway.

"I just want something simple for me and my husband to use," said Pat

The floppy disk has several replacements, including writeable compact
discs and keychain flash memory devices. Both can hold much more data and
are less likely to break.

Even so, floppies have been around since the late 1970s. People are used
to them. They were the oldest form of removable storage still around.

"There's always some nostalgia," said Scott Wills, an electrical and
computer engineering professor at Georgia Tech who has held on to an old
8-inch floppy disk. "It's a technology I'm glad to be rid of. I'd never
label them, and I never knew what any of them were until I put them in
and looked."

In a sense, it's amazing floppy disks have hung around for this long.

They only hold 1.44 megabytes of space &#151; still enough for word
processing documents but little else. By comparison, CDs store upward of
700 megabytes, and the flash memory drives typically carry between 64 and
256 megabytes.

And it's been a long time since floppy disks were even floppy. They used
to come in a bendable plastic casing and were 5.25 inches wide, but Apple
Computer Inc. pioneered the smaller, higher density disks with its
Macintosh (news - web sites) computers in the mid-1980s.

Then Apple become the first mass-market computer manufacturer to stop
including floppy drives altogether with the release of their iMac model
in 1998.

"It's not officially dead, but there's no question it's a slow demise,"
said Tim Bajarin, principle analyst for Creative Strategies, a technology
consulting firm near San Jose, Calif. "You had a few people ... who were
screaming, but in a short time, they adjusted."

It may not be too many years before floppy disks are joined by DVDs.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates (news - web sites) recently predicted the
DVD would be obsolete within a decade.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
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Received on Sun Sep 19 2004 - 17:26:26 BST

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