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Floppy disks get second life out of California warehouse

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It has been twenty years since their heyday, but one bulk supplier of the enduring 3.5-inch floppy disk used to store data in Nineteen Nineties says business remains to be booming.

Tom Persky runs floppydisk.com, a California-based online disk recycling service that takes in latest and used disks before sending them onto a reliable customer base — he reckons he sells about 500 disks a day.

Who buys floppy disks in an age when more sophisticated storage devices like CD-ROMS, DVDs and USB flash drives have been made increasingly obsolete by web and cloud storage? Those within the embroidery, tools and dye, and airline industry, especially those involved in aircraft maintenance, says Persky.

“For those who built a plane 20 or 30 and even 40 years ago, you’d use a floppy disk to get information out and in of a number of the avionics of that airplane,” said 73-year-old Persky.

At his warehouse, shelves are filled with vivid green, orange, blue, yellow or black disks sent from all over the world. At one end sits a big magnetic machine with a conveyor belt that wipes out information on disks, while one other machine slaps labels on them.

Despite being a relic in the fashionable world, Tom Persky says floppy disks have several redeeming qualities. REUTERS

A floppy diskCustomers are those within the embroidery, tools and dye, and airline industry, especially those involved in aircraft maintenance, Persky says.REUTERS

The warehouse also holds 8-inch floppy disks — a good older storage medium — including one labeled as containing the 1960 John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon US presidential debate.

Despite being a relic in the fashionable world, Persky says floppy disks have several redeeming qualities.

“Floppy disks are very reliable, very stable, a thoroughly understood technique to get information out and in of a machine,” he says. “Plus, they’ve the extra feature of not being very hackable.”

Persky ended up within the floppy disk business after working in software development for a tax company within the Nineteen Nineties that duplicated its software onto floppy disks. He says he fell in love with the business and took it on after it was spun off.

Older computers used to format the disks,“Floppy disks are very reliable, very stable, a thoroughly understood technique to get information out and in of a machine,” he says. REUTERS

But he will not be expecting it to survive one other 20 years.

“Once I see the ‘save’ icon, I see a floppy disk. But most individuals just see the ‘save’ icon,” Persky said.

“I’ll be here for so long as people proceed to wish to have these disks. Nevertheless it’s not endlessly.”

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