Windows users begin to realize the end of floppies is near

“The other day I spoke at the general meeting of the Fredericksburg PC Users’ Group. Before my talk, the group’s webmaster showed off a nifty little gadget that I had heard of but had never seen in use,” Chris Muldrow writes for The Free Lance-Star.

“The device was a little keychain-sized storage device that has a USB connector on it. You just plug the device into the USB port on your computer, and you’ve got anywhere from a few megabytes of storage to a gig or more,” Muldrow writes.

“I was surprised the next day when my wife walked in after a conference, handed me a small cardboard box and said, ‘They gave us these for attending and I though you might want it.’ It was–you guessed it–a USB storage device on a keychain,” Muldrow writes.

“Apple predicted the demise of the floppy drive a few years ago, but the drives continued to linger on in the Windows world. But the spread of devices like inexpensive digital cameras, digital video cameras and MP3 players has made it tough to transfer files using floppy disks,” Muldrow writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We had to look at the date of this article multiple times before we believed it. Apple announced the death of the floppy in May 1998 or almost 6 (six!) years ago with the introduction of the iMac. In fact, Apple was routinely lambasted for dropping the floppy from their computers at the time (and even in some dark, moldy IT corners still today). That this article is actually being published today illustrates the gap between the Wintel PC and Apple Macintosh worlds perfectly. Apple is nimble, can quickly drop old tech in order to move to more efficient methods, and the user base is willing to ride the cutting edge while the rest of the world is amazed about USB keychain drives and beginning to realize the floppy’s days are numbered in April 2004. We wonder if this article’s writer realizes that Apple’s iMac was the catalyst for the USB explosion that brought him his keychain drive in the first place? Actually, we’re kind of amazed he has a keychain at all – since when did driving a horse and buggy require keys? They must be for his barn.

94 Comments

  1. First Post.

    I would like to take the opportunity to say a few things. First of all, floppies will be with PCs for the foreseeable future. Not that anyone really cares.

    Second, I didn’t care about Janet Jackson’s boob.

    Third, I know where the weapons of mass destruction are.

    Fourth, I really like MDN. It’s fun having the news slanted to my viewpoint for a change.

    Fifth, car pool lanes suck. They don’t help. They are one of the biggest jokes in Los Angeles.

  2. For 5+ years I have been telling Wintel people, “I don’t have a floppy drive, please email it or send a CD at least.” Always I was met with incredulous comments. MDN’s Take has made up for all of the idiotic comments I’ve received over 5 years in a single paragraph.

  3. Just because the ass who wrote this article is still living in the 80s doesn’t mean the rest of the PC world is. Even Dell has made floppies add-ons on its systems. Sounds to me like the tech columnist for this newspaper is woefully underqualified to be writing this stuff if his reaction to a USB keychain is “wow, what innovative technology!”

  4. Sure, floppies are obsolete now, six years after the iMac was introduced, but that doesn’t meant that they were obsolete then. The complaint about the iMac was that it dropped floppies prematurely, not that it was a bad idea in theory. So all of the disdain I see here is misdirected. The iMac made it difficult for ordinary home users to move a single file from one computer to another. That’s a fact. I had to jump through hoops myself, and carry an Ethernet hub or crossover cable with me, in order to write software for the iMac. Floppies would have been so much more convenient. How many home users even know what a crossover Ethernet cable is? I was lucky because I was only interconnecting with other Macs that Ethernet. Had I been connecting to consumer PCs, I might have had to buy Ethernet adapters too.

  5. And, surprisingly, it will take M$ only 7 or 8 years (2007-2008) to release a “reasonable, albeit poor, copy of the Mac OS” circa 2000 – OS X. If they can do that, they will have shaved 3 years off their development cycle. Amazing!

  6. If Apple waited until today to drop floppies, Wintel wouldn’t do it until around 2010. And that’s a fact – take it to the bank. Apple leads. Wintel follows. Eventually.

  7. Hmm…real life scenarios:

    A) Have written 90K Word file, need to give to someone else I am seeing around lunch time. Not near a net connection for the day. Options are: 1) save 90K word file to $60 USB flash, give $60 USB flash to other person. Or 2) save to $.50 floppy, and to person, wish them a nice day.

    I think I’m going with 2).

    B) Want to spend afternoon sitting on patio working on a document. It is nice outside. I can’t see my laptop’s screen. Options: 1) drag 50 lb. iMac outside to patio, put on glass table that creaks and sounds like it is going to break at any moment under weight of iMac, all so I can use the iMac’s USB port to save file to flash key or 2) pick up little SE/30, save to floppy.

    Think I’m going with 2).

    Scenario C) isn’t Mac related, but rather related to PC non-use of USB for keyboards, thus keyboards not having USB slot. Am working with tower that sits on the floor. Don’t feel like pulling the thing out and turning it on its face to use rear USB port, put $60 flash key in front USB port at bottom front of machine. Someone comes into office, says hi. Forgetting $60 flash key is a few inches from my foot, turn around striking flash key with foot. Weak USB connection immediately broken, thereby losing $60 and anything save on the flash key. Solution–go to MicroCenter, pick up cheap USB floppy drive, use that.

    The latest flash key I have is cute, but honestly I haven’t used the thing and months and have forgotten where it is.

  8. Dropping the floppy was NOT premature, Sum Yung Gai. It is the floppy that is WAY beyond it’s prime. It should have died out years BEFORE Apple dropped it. The problem was that there was no single technology that was widely accepted to replace it. The ZIP disk tried, but ultimately failed. At the time, no major PC manufacturer used USB as the standard periphiral connection method. The iMac is responsible for making USB commonplace in all sytems today. At worst, Apple was guilty of not offering an alternative method of transfering files, but the idea of the iMac was to offer a low cost high power Mac system, and including something like a Zip drive would have made the price too high. Considering how well the iMac sold even without such alternatives, it appears that Apple made the right descision after all.

  9. I am with bugzilla bunny. This guy is not qualified to be a tech journalist. What’s next?

    Muldrow to his wife: Look honey, there is this thingee the size of a cigarette pack. It has a wheel that does not rotate and a pair of white things you stick into your ears. Oohh, shiny!

  10. “Opinionated Jerk” wrote:
    Hmm…real life scenarios:

    A) Have written 90K Word file, need to give to someone else I am seeing around lunch time. Not near a net connection for the day. Options are: 1) save 90K word file to $60 USB flash, give $60 USB flash to other person. Or 2) save to $.50 floppy, and to person, wish them a nice day.

    How about:

    3) Save, along with a whole bunch of other interesting stuff that they might want, to $.05 CD-R, give to person, wish them a nice day.

    Yes, I have a USB floppy drive – but frankly haven’t used it in over 6 months. PC users appreciate the CD more than the floppy

    Floppies have been “dead” for over 5 years now, just as MacOS Classic has been dead for a while too. “Dead” in the sense that someone who has received a 100-rem radiation dose is dead, regardless of the fact that they’re still breathing for a while.

    [Note to moderators: I attempted to put in a perfectly valid e-mail address, but it keeps rejecting it. The address is in the form “mh dash mdnposting at harthaven dot com”, with the appropriate characters where the spambot-foiling words are. What’s going on?]

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