Floppy disks were pocket-sized time-bombs in the 80s and 90s. We carried our data in their precarious bellies, dragging them like leaky buckets from one computer to another -- certain that every journey might be their last. It was a hopeless task. Why did we bother? We'd witness funeral after funeral, and the epitaphs were always the same: "bad sector", "failed to write to disk", or "unable to read from Drive A:".
It's the end of the magnetic track for the 3.5-inch floppy disk -- or so says electronics superstore PC World. But, cynics will have noticed that the Dixons group (which owns PC World) has a nasty habit of claiming that an old technology has 'passed away' and then continuing to sell it. Is this harmless self-promotion, or headline-grabbing nonsense?
It claimed the death of the video recorder back in 2004, but still sells stand-alone VHS recorders. Then, two years ago, the death of the 35mm camera -- yet Dixons (or Currys.digital, if you can say that name without throwing up at the thought of the focus group that came up with it) continues to sell 35mm cameras at airports to cater for 'professional photographers'.
The moral is that we probably shouldn't rely on a company that sells photocopier paper and mouse mats out of big tin warehouses to predict technology trends. Dixons telling us the floppy disk is dead is like Jade Goody telling us that bowler hats are no longer in fashion. We all knew it anyway, and the messenger has as much credibility as a fish finger.
Floppy disks are the past, the very distant past. Apple phased out floppy drives in all its machines almost ten years ago. Dell no longer ships machines with floppy drives as standard -- you have to pay £15 extra. The format was, especially in its later years, unreliable to the point of absurdity.
So good riddance, you 3.5-inch antiques, with your bad sectors and shoddily made casings. Farewell your plastic covers that would split open in the pocket, and your sliding metal bit that would pop out or lose its spring. Thanks a million for wrecking hours of final-year dissertation by malfunctioning. Congratulations for corrupting Stunt Car Racer -- certainly the best Amiga game ever, and perhaps the best videogame ever. May you never return, despite Iomega's ridiculous re-vampings. -CS