Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

More Changes – Although This One Came Slow

Posted by wrmcnutt on April 28, 2010

Just the other day, Sony announced that they would be ending domestic (Japanese) sales of 3.5 inch “floppy” disks.  The latest and most efficient versions of this medium, the High Density disk, would hold 1.44 megabytes of data.  And they’re very, very slow to transfer data.  Now, Sony holds 70% of the market share for 1.44 MB floppies in Japan, so this is pretty much the death knell for this ancient and venerable storage medium.  It will take a little longer for this to roll out into the United States, as we hang on to our computer hardware longer than the Japanese, but the writing has been on the wall for a while.  Apple abandoned this medium several years ago, and as of last fiscal year, Dell no longer provided them as standard options on it’s commercial-grade computers. (Source: CNET – Sony delivers floppy disk’s last rites )

Introduced in 1987, the 3.5″ floppy had a twenty three year lifespan as a standard.  And that’s a pretty darn good run.  The 5.25 floppy, it’s immediate predecessor wwas introduced by Apple around 1978, and only lasted nine years.  The 8″ floppy, used before that, only lasted seven years. 

Today’s preferred portable media is the “memory stick.”  Also called a “thumb drive” or “jump drive,” 512 MB versions can be had for under a dollar, for the careful shopper.  For a dollar, you can buy a media stick that will hold three hundred and fifty five floppy disks.  Or, if you’ve got a little more money to spend, you can get an 8 GIGAbit drive for about $24.00.  It will hold the same amount of data as FIVE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED and FIFTY FIVE floppies.  For $24.00.  I remember being shocked when the price of floppies dropped below a $20.00 for a pack of ten.

SO – teaching learners to use floppy disks or even CDs/DVDs is probably not a good way to spend the tiny amount of time we have for technology training.  I would be very surprised to discover a computer in use with a floppy drive in another five years.

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3 Responses to “More Changes – Although This One Came Slow”

  1. Halona Y. Agouda said

    Wow! I was not aware that floppy disks were still being sold in the US… With the ability to save a document in email or another online storage option, I rarely use my memory stick anymore. What programs are still teaching learners to use floppy disks? Many of the adult ed teachers I work with are VERY technologically behind (and don’t seem to be concerned about that one bit…), but I thought most people had gotten rid of the floppy by now.

    BTW, I love your blog and added you to my blogroll at http://halonaagouda.com/

    • durencls said

      Thanks for adding us – we’d noticed it just last week (we’re still pretty new to running a professinal blog and are slowly learning all the features of WordPress!)

      You asked – what programs are still teaching learners to use floppy disks? In TN, and likely in a number of “poorer” states, you can still find adult education programs with Windows 95 or 98 machines, and machines that were bough “bargain basement” or donated that have few/no usb ports, and no CD/DVD write capability – much less internet access. Only way to get stuff on or off of them is via floppy.

      Scarier, many of these same programs have continued to use floppy disks to save or back up important program files – and now need to move/convert al that over to some other media. and they have no TIME to do that given all the recent budget cuts. Also due to security issues, they are VERY hesitant to use “cloud sotrage”(or local policies have not yet been adjusted so they officially can).

      Heck *I* still have a stack of floppies I need to get over onto CD in the next year – and I simply can’t find the time…

      • wrmcnutt said

        I nag her about that from time to time. Floppy disks, and, frankly, all magnetic media, deteriorate over time. You have to transfer the data to new media periodically, or you’ll lose it. Whatever Duren’s got on floppies may or may not be readable now that they’re over 5 years old.

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