Sony plunges what could be the final nail in the coffin of the 3.5-inch floppy disk by announcing that it will stop selling the storage media in Japan from March 2011.
The 3.5-inch floppy disk, which is 30 years old, has seen its fortunes dwindle over the years. The once ubiquitous media suffered its first blow when Apple discontinued the floppy drive on the iMac in 1998, a move seen at the time as both shocking and revolutionary. Dell followed suit in 2003.
Over the years, the format has felt the squeeze from a whole host of new storage media. First, there was Iomega's Zip ("No one will need more than 100MB! Hey, someone hear an ominous clicking sound?") and Jaz("No one will need more than 540MB, no, wait, 1GB!") drives, followed by recordable CDs ("No one will need more than around 650MB!"), then recordable DVDs ("No one will need more than 4.7GB!"), and then from USB flash drives ("No one will need more than ..." well, you get the idea).
As flash memory became cheaper and offered vastly more storage space, 1.44MB no longer seemed like enough. But it wasn't just capacity that was the issue. USB flash drives are more compact and far, far more reliable than a floppy disk ever was, and far less likely to be damaged when used.
I'm sure that floppy disks will be around for years to come, much like the Compact Cassette still is, but it's clear that the door is closing on a piece of history.
Personally, I've not used a floppy disk in years. I still have loads around the place, along with working drives, and I plan to keep them "just in case" I need them, but with each passing year, the layer of dust on top of them grows ever thicker. OK, alright, I admit that I pick one up occasionally just to flick the metal shutter a few times, but that's it!
Any readers still using floppy disks? Come on, own up!