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Floppy Disk Kingpin Says Business Has About Four Years Before Hitting Eject Button

floppy toaster
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The floppy disk business will be toast in four more years, reckons the self-described “last man standing in the floppy disk business.” However, Tom Persky, Owner of US-based floppydisk.com, a site dedicated to servicing the last pockets of demand for diskettes, says the end is in sight.

Sony was the last diskette maker, ceasing production a decade ago, but Persky’s business has been ticking over on “a couple of million” floppy disks snapped up when production ended. Every now and then, Persky gets a chance to buy a few pallets full of unused floppies that firms find in the back of their warehouse. However, Floppydisk.com is currently on its last half a million diskettes, and they are an unquantified mix of 3.5-, 5.25- and 8-inch designs and a few less common formats. As an aside, Persky says that he also recycles floppy disks – rather than see them going to landfill - and gets up to 1,000 disks a day in the mail. These are tested, guaranteed, and sold at $19.95 for a pack of 50.

You might be curious who still needs floppy disks in 2022. The answer is wide-ranging, with a diverse clientele still eating up these computer consumables regularly. Some of the biggest floppy disk orders come from industrial firms, as well as avionics, healthcare, and embroidery. All these customers have something in common; they use serviceable, good working order machinery that is perhaps 20+ years old and use a floppy drive to save and load data. Incidentally, the Japanese government has only just decided to phase out the required filing of certain official documents on floppies and CDs.

floppyisk.com today

Fire up your Netscape Navigator and go buy some floppies (Image credit: Future)

Other avenues for diskette sales are hobbyists and retro computing folk. Also, we must not forget the old but often revered musical synthesizers and workstations that use floppies for sound patches, sequences, and other data. However, demand from users of devices like digital cameras with floppy disk drives (like the Sony Mavica) must be negligible.

Elsewhere in the interview by Eye on Design and brought to light by The Register, we learn about why, how, and when Persky got into the floppy business. Obviously, it is a long-standing business, as no one would create such a business now. Persky was originally in the floppy and optical disk duplication business. However, as the utility value of ODDs has been swept aside by super-fast internet connectivity, Perksy’s business is currently about 90% reliant on floppy sales. As the headline goes, Persky doesn’t see a long future for his business, another four years perhaps, but he would be the first to admit that he is “not exactly a person with great vision.”

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • WrongRookie
    I can see MSX 2+ homebrew games requiring the floppy disk.

    And retro gaming on windows 98 works swell too.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    We still have tools in the fab facility that rely on floppy drives.
    Reply
  • fireaza
    Kinda surprised someone hasn't made a floppy disk drive hardware adapter. Some kinda hardware that can be a direct drop-in replacement for a standard floppy drive that allows you to use SD cards or something with the host hardware being none the wiser. Makes more sense than continuing to use floppy disks.
    Reply
  • Sean-Paul
    fireaza said:
    Kinda surprised someone hasn't made a floppy disk drive hardware adapter. Some kinda hardware that can be a direct drop-in replacement for a standard floppy drive that allows you to use SD cards or something with the host hardware being none the wiser. Makes more sense than continuing to use floppy disks.
    Virtual floppy drives you can attach pretty much and disk image/device to has been around since windows 95 and as far as I know it's always been possible with linux and mac after it started using a linux-ish kernel.
    Reply
  • dimar
    I wonder if old machinery can be upgraded with floppy drive emulators where you can use a USB flash drive instead of the diskettes. The emulators use floppy drive connector..
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    fireaza said:
    Kinda surprised someone hasn't made a floppy disk drive hardware adapter. Some kinda hardware that can be a direct drop-in replacement for a standard floppy drive that allows you to use SD cards or something with the host hardware being none the wiser. Makes more sense than continuing to use floppy disks.
    dimar said:
    I wonder if old machinery can be upgraded with floppy drive emulators where you can use a USB flash drive instead of the diskettes. The emulators use floppy drive connector..
    Gotek floppy emulators are around for ever, originally made for music keyboards that would have floppies to read in new instruments.
    You can now find firmware for it to make it work on pretty much any somewhat popular old hardware, dos amiga st and so on.
    A simple search on google about gotek firmware will open a whole new world for a lot of people.
    https://www.gotekemulator.com/(Also available from ebay amazon aliexpress, whatever you prefer)

    For anything else there are projects going on to make cheap solutions with the pi.
    For example
    https://cbm-pi1541.firebaseapp.com/
    Reply
  • Pollopesca
    We've got a few Gotek floppy emulators for servicing legacy metrology controller systems from the 90s. Much easier than trying to get a modern flash drive to work on a Win 95/98 box. When the machine costs 60-500k new and still works, its not surprising clients want to keep them running as long as possible.
    Reply