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Poll: Have You Ever Used A Floppy Disk?

This post is a quickie to see what the current generation is like these days. I'm an old fart (not as old as many reading this post), but I remember when 5 1/4" floppy drives were "standard", and 3 1/2" were the new fad. Then came Iomega Jazz drives, and the like. CDRW hit the scene, never really went far, then USB storage was here, and here to stay.

At any event, in graphical user interfaces, you'll see floppy disks that represent saving a file to disk. It's very, very common, yet I doubt many of the younger generation has ever used one. So, how are they supposed to know what it does?

So, here's a poll for you to take. You'll need to take the poll at my site, as it uses Ajax calls to the page, which means it won't work in your RSS reader, or on any other site. I'm just curious to see what falls out.

Have you ever used a floppy disk?
View Results

{ 17 } Comments

  1. Dr. Avery Jenkins | May 16, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Heck, I remember the 8-inch floppies!

  2. Corfy | May 16, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Oh, yes, I've used Floppies. I'm so glad they got replaced.

    I first used the 5 1/4 inch floppies when I was in elementary and high school. By college, the 3 1/2 inch had pretty much taken over. Although I remember a friend of mine in college bought a network card for his computer and the drivers came on a 5 1/2 inch floppy. This was circa 1996. We had a hard time finding a computer on campus that could read this floppy so we could transfer the drivers to a 3 1/2.

    But it always seemed to me that the effective life of a given floppy disc was inversely proportional to the importance of the data on it. The more important the data, the less likely the floppy was to work when you need it.

  3. Mackenzie | May 16, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    "Do you remember floppy disks?" was a question used by a former coworker who is now in his late 20s to determine whether he and I counted as the same generation (I was an intern).

    What's weirder to me is that teenagers these days probably don't realise that Macs are a type of Apple computer, just like a Camry is a type of Toyota.

  4. Damon Lynch | May 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I remember using an 8088 era PC with two floppy drives and no hard drive. The floppy drives were very impressive technology compared to using cassette tapes on a Sinclair ZX81 or Commodore 64.

  5. Sambodhi | May 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Floppy Diskettes always used to flop on me, all I needed to do was to touch one and lo, "Sector 0 is corrupted". Only time I ever managed a successful transfer was my first time (I think it was '97), I had been told to back up all important files on a bunch of floppies as my Win 98 box needed a reformat...
    I copied "My Documents" with a lot of manual labor, and very thoughtfully copied the desktop icons of all the programs "as these programs will be needed after the reformat". 😛
    The repair guys sure was surprised when I gave him a floppy and told him that it contained McAfee, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc plus a few files...
    By the way, I once watched a solar eclipse through a floppy, just once though, as my eyes really hurt...

  6. Eric | May 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I still have a few dozen floppies at home, mostly 3½, but have to admit that I haven't really used them recently. The readable ones have all been backed up onto at least three hard drives anyway. I also have a few Zip disks, including a password-protected one with an old Macintosh format that I really would like to mount sometime.

  7. Shane | May 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Wow... floppy drives... That brings back memories. My family used to use them quite extensively with our Windows 98 computer, and even kept using them until about 2006 with a Windows XP Dell desktop. I still have a few that I'd like to check out at some point before I lose the only computer we have with a floppy disk drive.

    What icon would work to replace the floppy disk for the "Save" button? It doesn't seem like a hard drive icon would work that well...

  8. TGM | May 17, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    I still use my Amiga... with 8GB SSD and DVD drive!

  9. Neto | May 17, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I've used a lot of floppies in my life but they were all 3 1/2''. I used a machine (grandad's house) that had a 5 1/4″ slot and there were even some old floppies lying around but it didn't work and no one really felt the need to fix it.

    It's not like we could find another machine with that slot. I'm talking 10-15 years ago.

    floppies were so unreliable I learned to store everything thrice and format them every other day. Specially considering how much I used them to transport data.

    I don't want to see them ever again but I did use them a couple of days ago to extract data from some old college lab computers.

  10. Neto | May 17, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    By the way, I'm using NTLM Proxy Auth with string user agent to mask as IE 9.0. Using Firefox 4.

  11. Tony Yarusso | May 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps you should have included some demographic questions as well to know how responses correlated to things like age, profession, and continent.

    For what it's worth, I'm 24, living in the US, working for a software company, and I have used 3.5" and 5 1/2" floppies, but not the 8" ones. I also used the cartridges for the Commodore 64 portable. The last time I used a floppy disk was a few months ago, when I installed Windows XP on a computer for work ad needed it to load a SATA driver.

  12. Dick Smith | May 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I even remember the 8" floppies. They ran all our network servers in the early 70"s

  13. lol | May 18, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Just checking if recognises IE 9

  14. lol | May 21, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Just checking if recognises Chromium

  15. lp | June 9, 2011 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    I still do use them once in a while, got a bunch of servers that refuse to boot from USB and don't have DVD drives, installing most linux systems we use needs more space than a standard CD, so I end up putting the linux image on the USB and then rescue booting using a trimmed down grub on a 3.5" floppy. Oh, for more general computer rescue I still have a copy of tom's root boot that fits on one of the high density 3.5" floppies.

  16. Tom Dickson-Hunt | April 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Huh. When I was in middle school, the final transition away was still in progress; you could buy them still, and the computers in school could read them. Then I got a flash drive, and just kind of stopped, and then they did an upgrade that removed the drives. I hardly noticed.

    Last time I needed them was to use this ancient (circa 1990) laptop that ran OS/2. Only input/output it supported that I could marginally use was floppy; had to dig up a still-ancient-but-less-so machine from the basement which had both floppies and a working Ethernet port, then run the copy from there. I don't think I could even do that now; the computer with the requisite drive is long gone.

  17. Elhana | May 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I even loaded stuff on my Z80 from an audio tape.
    I also seen punched cards - my uncle has stockpile of them, he still uses them instead of toothpicks 🙂

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