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The Rise and Fall of 3M's Floppy Disk (2023)

171 points18 daysspectrum.ieee.org
LarsDu8818 days ago

I remember being super hyped for the successor of the floppy disk back as a kid in the 90s... Iomega Zip Drives.

And then getting super hyped for the successor to the CD... the BluRay, and wondering what sort of holographic multi terabyte wizardry would be the nextgen of optical disks.

Now we are in 2024 and what actually happened is no one owns their movie or music libraries anymore... they are all streamed from some remote CDN somewhere, and most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world.

At least we still have thumbsticks...

ssl-318 days ago

I used to miss being able to hand a floppy disk to someone to give them some data, but then I got used to using email instead (once disk quotas, transfer rates, and attachment sizes caught up). The disks were cheap enough (eventually) to not care much about.

And for a while, I enjoyed handing people CD-Rs or DVD-Rs full of data, and the disks were also cheap enough (eventually) to not care much about. (And disk quotas and attachment sizes have never caught up with either CD-R or DVD-R capacity, although transfer rates have.)

But BD-R never really caught on for a lot of reasons: So even if it is cheap-enough, it isn't universal-enough.

And I'm somewhat loathe to hand someone a thumb drive. They're universal these days and can be cheap enough to not care about, but they can also be expensive and they just don't feel as forgettable as pulling another blank disc out of the box/off of the spindle, writing some data to it, and just letting them keep it was.

Sure, I can attempt to lend another person a thumb drive, but that's a much more complicated thing than giving them a throwaway DVD-R was. (Also, it's an active computer device -- there's very real concerns about trusting a foreign thumb drive that never existed with previously-used iterations of removable media.)

So now, to give someone some meaningful amount of data: I get to upload it to The Clown (with Dropbox or Google Drive or Discord or something). With the most-common methods, I also get to hope that I remember to delete it later (and also hope that they remember to save their own copy before I do delete it).

Which is great, I guess: I can send a mountain of data to anyone in the world this way and we never have to be in the same room.

But it also sucks: I can't simply copy off some data and actually hand that data to anyone else like I did do with a CD-R. There's always a third party involved. (It's like mailing a letter through a transciptionist service might have been, if that was ever a thing that was, instead of addressing it to the end recipient directly.)

As a final lament: What in the fuck ever happened to easily sending data, over the Internet, to a fellow peer? Transferring files with DCC on IRC seems like it was miles ahead of where we are today, and that was 25 or 30 fucking years ago.

(No, I'm not bitter. I'm just old, I guess.)

francescovv18 days ago

> What (...) happened to easily sending data, over the Internet

And for mobile phones - without internet is similar, unnecessarily hard. The other day I was hiking with friends, and wanted to share a .gpx file with the route, at some spot with no cell coverage. I thought: "I 'member, bluetooth can send files". Well, we spent good 15 minutes trying and miserably failed, that's no longer possible in the name of "security". So I had to wait for cell signal to come back and send the file via whatsapp. To someone standing right in front of me.

GuB-4218 days ago

There are many ways of sending files between phones, none of them good.

Bluetooth can work, but it is slow as hell, and Apple doesn't support it.

Cloud services are convenient, but you not only you need some signal, but you also uses up your data plan.

If you have USB OTG support, you can simply use a thumb drive, like with your PC, but it is cumbersome and you need the hardware.

There are some somewhat proprietary systems like QuickShare and AirDrop, which are supposed are great when you have support which is not always the case.

Other options include having one phone act as a WiFi AP and host a local HTTP server, there are apps for that (ex: MiXplorer). A bit uncommon, but the advantage is that only one phone needs to do weird stuff, for the other, it is just downloading from a URL.

There are also apps like SyncThing based on P2P networks.

Generally, phones are pretty terrible at dealing with files. Their OS is designed around apps controlling their data rather than around interchangeable files like traditional desktop OSes. The way they want you to work is not by exchanging .gpx files but instead by using some built-in "share" feature of your hiking app. It may be .gpx under the hood, but they don't want the end user to see a file.

+1
clan18 days ago
+2
Rinzler8918 days ago
otherme12317 days ago

I use https://github.com/marcosdiez/shareviahttp all the time, to share with other phones or with my ereader or PC.

ryandrake18 days ago

I recently had to have a non-technical person send me a very large file, and encountered this. There really is no good universal way to do this, even here in 2024! File is too big for E-mail, ftp is too big a technical hurdle for the guy. Dropbox requires accounts and sharing and all sorts of access shit for him to figure out. I ended up enabling WebDAV on an existing web server I have admin access to, and luckily he's on MacOS which makes it relatively straightforward to write a file to WebDAV. If he were on Windows I have no idea what I'd ask him to do, since I tried for 20 minutes to figure out how to actually connect to a WebDAV folder in read-write mode and Microsoft thwarted me at every turn.

It's pretty shocking that we don't have a dead-simple cross-platform "send a file to someone over the Internet" solution that doesn't involve cloud servers and accounts and downloading apps.

+1
shiroiushi17 days ago
xgkickt18 days ago

Phones are able to capture MiBs per frame via their cameras, so I wonder if you could make an app that has both playback and recording of data, like displaying an animated QR-like code on one phone and recording it on another.

dylan60418 days ago

To me, this seems like a feature the app you're using with the GPX should add to its social settings with a Share With Friend(s) button. Specifically knowing that being in an environment where cell coverage might not be available, it can form adhoc wifi, and push across. Of course, they will want you to allow access to Contacts to know who your friends are. But you've probably already been requested for any of the permissions needed for this feature, because $REASONS

everfrustrated18 days ago

On Android builtin as Share -> Quick Share/Nearby share

Available since Android 6 (c.2015)

+2
sandyarmstrong18 days ago
Varriount18 days ago

Huh, I wonder what the problem was. I semi-regularly send files between my Windows laptop and my Android phone. I do recall never being able to get that functionality working properly with a Mac though.

+2
francescovv18 days ago
nvarsj18 days ago

Pretty easy with iPhone+AirDrop. Just bring your iPhones together - it asks if you want to airdrop something, select file, done.

anthk18 days ago

Briar can send files over Bluetooth.

ssl-318 days ago

Sometimes, I work with bi-directional amplifiers and distributed antenna systems that are intended to improve cellular coverage inside of a building where there may be little or none of that.

I have a fairly expensive meter at my disposal to use for planning things like this, which analyzes different cellular carriers by frequency, and can output (messy, and with unescaped commas for notes, but eventually-fucking-usable) CSV files of the results -- with GPS coordinates of the measurement location.

This sounds amazing for a person like me in this line of work. But it is not amazing for a person like me in this line of work.

(As a preface for the rest of this, remember: This meter is a tool that is meant to be used in areas of limited or zero cellular coverage -- places where outside RF is problematic for whatever reason.)

1. The meter has a Bluetooth interface that connects to an app on a pocket computer. (This part works fine, usually, except the app often doesn't background properly and silently dies if the user uses their pocket computer to do some other task, which might be fine if the problem was ever reported. [Haha!])

2. The meter expects the pocket computer to have an Internet connection, so it can use that to upload its findings to The Clown. (This part often cannot work, because the whole fucking reason any of this is happening is because cellular coverage is shit inside of a random building.)

3. The meter expects that the pocket computer will provide GPS coordinates, even though it is intended to be able to be used indoors -- without network connectivity, or perhaps even in a Faraday cage. And while modern pocket computers are very good at providing some location data by various means as long as there is internet connectivity or GPS-esque data, all of them fail at this when there is neither Internet nor GPS available. It produces an error [Haha!] when there is no location information available.

4. It does not provide useful errors. It provides errors, but they aren't specific at all and do not promote productive troubleshooting or workflow. ("Oh, there was a problem with your measurement! [Haha!]" is the singular error.)

5. Sometimes, it will even produce an error [Haha!] but record the measurement anyway -- and without recording the error.

6. It stores nothing locally. When an error happens [Haha! Good luck!], it is impossible to quickly see if anything was stored at all, so the only clear path is to repeat measurements that result in an error [Haha!]. This often results in redundant measurements being actually-recorded, but who would know that at the time of measurement. (These measurements often take about 4 minutes each, so these errors [Haha!] and repeated measurements can consume significant portions of an expensive workday.)

7. (Your main point): Exporting a CSV file of [whatever-the-hell was collected] is possible, as long as I want to send it to Google Drive or some other Clown-based service. The CSV is only a few tiny kilobytes at very most, but it won't let me copy the CSV to my pocket-computer's clipboard, or send it in an email, or save it locally on the pocket computer, or send it with Bluetooth to my laptop. It has to be exported to a Clown-based service, and then it can be read from that Clown-based service by some other device. There are no other options presented, unlike in so many other apps in my pocket computer.

8. Continued: While the maker of this meter device has their own Clown, and this Clown is clearly extent on the Internet, this Clown is completely inaccessible outside of their pocket-computer app. I cannot bypass Step 7 by any official means no matter how deep my desktop computing prowess may be.

It is completely shit, and it appears to be the best thing available on the market in this space. (And it isn't even Chinese shit: The company that produces this meter is in Utah.)

philbin18 days ago

[dead]

8A51C18 days ago

3.5 floppies were the peak of media for me. Built in case, small enough to fit in a pocket, small and light enough to carry a handful around all the time, cheap enough to share freely, tactile. Nostalgia alert, I recall this from my school days, jacket pocket with all my discs in, we would roam around the school looking for empty rooms with computers, then bang; in goes the floppy and I have all my files. Share something with someone? No issue, copy it on a spare and hand it over... CDs didn't fit in a pocket and had an annoying case, though you needed much fewer of them.

herodoturtle18 days ago

Fellow pocket disk pirate here, loved reading this. We used to spray paint our discs with makeshift stencils to get a camo look (a bit like that one laptop prep scene in Hackers ‘95). Mostly used to collect / trade our .BAS files and the odd bit of saucy content from BBS.

actionfromafar18 days ago

Note to self - add "drop off once to friend" feature to my p2p program. (I.e. it makes sure a copy exists locally until your friend has downloaded the entire transfer, then it can be deleted from your local.)

ssl-318 days ago

I think I like you.

But is your program actually P2P? (If it were, then: The sender would know when the recipient has completed the download, because the sender was finished sending it and the recipient has stated that they are done receiving it. And there would be no need for gymnastics.)

actionfromafar18 days ago

Exactly like that. My program is half-way there to doing NAT hole-punching, a bunch of other stuff is missing and I'm deep into yak-shaving right now the likes of you wouldn't even believe, but I have had good progress the last few months. (Been tinkering for years, finally decided to do a serious effort. The commit log goes back years but for long periods very silent.)

kzrdude18 days ago

Yes, not having physical media sucks. Physical objects just work better on a human scale, we know where we put them (well..) and how to trade them.

jmclnx18 days ago

> I can't simply copy off some data and actually hand that data to anyone else like I did do with a CD-R. There's always a third party involved

The only thing is writing to a CD/DVD can be a PITA. To me diskettes were very easy when it came to read and write to physical media.

>Sure, I can attempt to lend another person a thumb drive, but that's a much more complicated thing than giving them a throwaway DVD-R was

This I agree with, I have a tough time giving flash drives away for some reason. If one could buy a pack of 10 1gig flash drives for the same price as a box of Diskettes, it would be easier. Right now you can only buy flash drives 1 at a time.

kijin18 days ago

Not only that, but it's hard to buy small flash drives. The smallest I can find in retail stores around me are in the 16-32GB range, which feels like a total waste when all I need is a few hundred MB (i.e. just beyond the email attachment limit).

Smaller flash drives are available online, in bulk, of course, but they're not much cheaper. I guess the cost of flash becomes a negligible part of the total price at the single-digit GB range these days.

rightbyte16 days ago

At some point small memory sticks were used for like ads and brochures at conferances. They were quite neat and I guess they were bought in bulk.

But I can't seem to find any big packs of cheap small sticks either...

Fatnino16 days ago

You can get packs of very very cheap microSD cards. Just good enough to put data on once to give to someone and then forget about. No performance or whatever. Trash tier.

bigbillheck18 days ago

> cheap enough to not care about

You can get a ten pack of 16gb drives for $25, which after inflation is in the ballpark of what I remember floppies costing 30 years ago.

crtasm17 days ago

Have you tried this?

https://github.com/magic-wormhole/magic-wormhole

There's also various webapps that work similarly: set up the connection then have you transfer data directly to the peer.

EVa5I7bHFq9mnYK17 days ago

With Telegram, you can send ulimited amount of data. Transfer is not always gast, and file size is limited to 2gb, but it works. Including to yourself, so you can use as a free cloud storage. Don't how they pull that off, costwise.

mrWiz18 days ago

The way it generally works IME is that if I want someone's data I better have my own thumb drive to get it, and if somebody wants mine they better have their own.

nradov18 days ago

You've got to be kidding. There's no way I'm going to plug someone else's thumb drive into my computer. Who knows what kind of malware it could be carrying, like having unprotected sex with a random stranger.

mrob17 days ago

It's easier to exploit somebody's computer using a USB drive, because it can do things like pretend to be a keyboard and spoof your inputs, and because the attack surface is "every USB driver", but we have to assume a skilled attacker can do just as much damage with a DVD+R. AFAIK, no kernel filesystem driver is designed to be robust against maliciously crafted filesystems, and FUSE is not designed to be a security boundary. If you're taking security seriously you have to take the same precautions with each, e.g. disabling automount, and only mounting them in a disposable VM and accessing the files over the network.

And even this might not be enough. Is your OS's partition table code robust against malicious input? I don't think there's any way to disable reading the partition table in Linux when a new block device is detected. In this case even copying a single file to/from the raw device with dd might not be secure.

mrWiz18 days ago

The USB drive I keep on my keychain is named STUXNET, so...

+1
kijin18 days ago
Rinzler8918 days ago

>But BD-R never really caught on for a lot of reasons: So even if it is cheap-enough, it isn't universal-enough.

I beg to differ. In the 2000s and part of 2010s everyone had optical media readers at home or in the office. In my EU country, radiology offices still use DVDs to share or hand you over your X-ray/CT/MRI images that you can then share with your dentist/GP/specialist for diagnosis.

Yeah, a national cloud system for radiology image storing and sharing part of the national healthcare system the would be much better, but computers and on-line services are still a new confusing thing to the government, so this is what we got now. So every medical practice still has functioning optical readers.

hnlmorg18 days ago

The GP was on about writable Blu-ray Discs specifically. Writable CDs and DVDs were common place.

yaomtc18 days ago

They said BD-R. Blu-ray. Not many computers have Blu-ray drives compared to DVD.

+1
Rinzler8918 days ago
yxwvut18 days ago

I think it's worth distinguishing that 'most creators get paid a pittance' is only true on a per-view basis. The total outflows to creators is higher, but the total viewership is massively increased due to the leftward shift in where we live on the demand curve. There's no 'money for nothing' solution where everyone just accepts higher prices and continues consuming at the current rate.

afavour18 days ago

> The total outflows to creators is higher

Is that actually true, though? I've lost count of the number of times I've heard that bands only really make money from touring these days and that streaming money is basically a rounding error.

yxwvut18 days ago

The total pie has absolutely grown. There were a little under 1 billion US album sales in 2000 (the peak of CDs). Spotify alone paid around $3.5B in royalties in the US last year (with similar #s for apple music and a bit less for YT music).

I suspect the disconnect comes from a) a big increase in the # of artists b) artists trying to compare apples to oranges #s as though every stream would've been an album/MP3 sale c) the timeline of revenues: an album sale is a big cash flow shortly after the album release, but streaming revenue is a slow trickle as users gradually discover the album, listen, re-listen, etc

selestify4 days ago

This data appears to disagree, with revenue peaking in 2000:

https://www.riaa.com/u-s-sales-database/

Do you have a source for your numbers?

+1
da_chicken17 days ago
TheGRS18 days ago

The industry has shifted greatly for creatives. Musicians especially. In the 90s which was peak old industry music, the labels would take chances on various artists and those artists would have a shot at something big for little while. The label paid for the studio time.

These days with creative tools so accessible and widespread, and the ability to publish so cheap, artists need to produce their own music and find their own following before the label takes them on. Instead of the label paying for studio time the artist does. I think that's why these discussions concentrate on the whole "fewer artists making more of the share" part. It IS different, but its not the whole story.

And I'd probably argue in favor of making creative endeavors more widespread instead of being in the lap of a few label executive taste-makers, but you definitely have fewer artists who can just concentrate on making great music and getting nice royalties. Now you have to do everything for a smaller pay day.

+1
alt22718 days ago
iamacyborg18 days ago

I suspect it’s true, but that also a bigger share of that pie is going to fewer labels and artists. It works out to a net gain for a minority and a net loss for everyone one.

selestify18 days ago

Do you have any sources I can use to dispel this myth the next time I see it?

sema4hacker18 days ago

I recently caught part of a radio interview where a musician bemoaned the fact that he used to be able to sell 10,000 copies of a CD and make a living, whereas now he can have millions of listeners online but still not cover the production costs.

hinkley17 days ago

How many times have you listened to your favorite album? Some of my CDs would have worn out in the 00’s if I hadn’t ripped them. In fact I had to use a disc doctor on a few to get a clean scan.

irjustin18 days ago

> Now we are in 2024 and what actually happened is no one owns their movie or music libraries anymore... they are all streamed from some remote CDN somewhere, and most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world.

As I grow older, I've learned that I only care about this with music. I've lost access to number of tv shows and movies over time, but never really batted an eye after I've seen them. I enjoy rewatching clips that are mostly on youtube and rarely care for the whole movie.... I'm just one guy though.

When I lost it with music, THEN i really cared. Caused me to seek physical media when I really like sometime, which sadly isn't always possible with all artists.

bandrami18 days ago

I find it particularly weird as a DJ that DJs under about 40 seem to have no problem with the idea of just streaming their entire setlist from a CDN, and in fact think I'm very weird and old fashioned for carrying around a thumb drive. (Wait til they see the actual vinyl crate I sometimes use...)

ssl-318 days ago

I was heavily-involved with an off-grid, pop-up DJ event at a race a few weeks ago.

We didn't have a plan. I mean: We hoped to make people (race fans, in a somewhat debaucherous campground/festival environment) happy, and we hoped that the music we brought with us would make them happy, but that was all of the planning we did on that end.

I was able to keep our Internet connection standing up and working very well all week (without using Starlink, which it seems isn't quite easily-rentable yet), which was a big improvement over the previous year when our bandwidth dropped to around zero once the great heaping throngs of spectators broadly showed up for the main race.

And that was a very good thing, because these flagrant drunks loved singing.

Our actual-DJ-dude was able to download tracks to sing as-requested. And it was a lot of work, but it was fun for everyone and fit the vibe. I'm glad we had the network available to let this happen.

We left the crates of vinyl at the DJ's place, since there wasn't room to transport it. And we were prepped for regular-ass DJing of just about any genre with the MP3s and FLACs we brought with us (via CDJs), but we did not anticipate that we would be doing karaoke (which is obviously a very different world from mixing jungle).

But back to your point: We were able to explore karaoke because we had good Internet, and I'm glad we were able to get there, but we also had a plethora of other options that existed on physical media that we could actually-touch.

I can't imagine showing up to a DJ gig without...any music at all, and just trusting that the greater network would behave itself for the duration and allow clean streaming to happen.

That just seems like madness to me, since the Internet sometimes fails -- and it seems to prefer failing when there's an unusual influx of people in a locality. It is unfathomable to me that someone would rely on having a fat-enough network connection to keep people moving in a place where there is a large crowd.

(But yet: People actually do that?)

+1
bandrami18 days ago
prmoustache18 days ago

As teenagers used to record mixtapes of music we likes to people we liked/love. Nowadays people just tag other on social medias or send links in private messages. I wonder if some still take the time to curate / prepare special things the same way we did.

01HNNWZ0MV43FF18 days ago

For some recent holiday I had my girlfriend burn me a CD of an album I liked. (Legally bought DRM-free)

I'd make her a mix CD, but there isn't much music we've listened to together.

In fact, when I talk to anyone about music, the result is often a mutual "Hm, never heard of them" followed by non-interest.

Music discovery is done independently and I don't usually want to get into other people's bands. I guess it used to be more social. I'm a late millennial, almost Gen Z. For me music is personal and not social. I listen to a lot of video game soundtracks.

digging18 days ago

This reflects a lot of my experience. Music has become more and more personal over the years.

I have one friend whom I introduced to a lot of music and we used to share often (links to songs etc). Over time, that friend began having their own vast personal world of music and we rarely share anymore.

One of my favorite things to do with music is to create a curated playlist and imagine sharing it. Sometimes I actually will share it with that friend or my partner, and that's been well received at times, as a rule it usually feels like asking anyone else to listen to something I like is just burdening/boring them.

Possibly worse, when you actually do connect with someone new about shared music taste... suddenly you open the floodgates and actually there's way too much music out there in your individual spheres so that sharing becomes exhausting.

ljf18 days ago

Not a teenager here - but I still make Spotify playlists for my friends, and I come across shared/curated playlists that people post all the time. Pre-spotify I used to make youtube playlists of music I loved - so pretty sure teenagers are doing the same now.

foobarian18 days ago

Kids these days seem to screenrecord youtube videos, and then stitch them together in iMovie/cabcut/other.

pilaf18 days ago

> Iomega Zip Drives

Were those ever open to manufacturing by companies other than Iomega?

I don't know much about the history of Iomega Zip Drives, but I find it interesting that in Japan MO Drives [1] were the winning format for that storage capacity bracket, and MO disks and drives were manufactured by a number of companies, much like floppy disks, not just one. I wonder why the same didn't happen in the West.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magneto-optical_drive

mark_undoio18 days ago

It felt like a shame MD Data [1] didn't catch on - but with existing MO formats out there maybe there was no point.

I was also reminded today of Floptical [2] drives, which I vaguely remember hearing about (but didn't catch on either).

Finally, there is my personal niche favourite, DataPlay [3], which were just so small and cute.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MD_Data [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floptical [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DataPlay

hinkley17 days ago

There was a predecessor to the Zip Drive that could do 120 MB. I’m blanking on what it’s called. My friend who was into MD data was into those first, then Iomega killed them.

+1
vikingerik17 days ago
hackernewds18 days ago

> and most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world.

fairly per the effort I'd say. previously content required a camera crew and helicopters. now a smartphone among the limitless content creators

hnlmorg18 days ago

That’s a grossly unfair comparison:

1. For starters you’re comparing TV production to YouTube content. The two aren’t even close to being equal in terms of budget.

2. Most popular content on YouTube still have at least professionals DSLRs and paid crew beyond just the influencers. Even if it’s just an editor or two.

3. I think the GP was talking about music rather then video content

4. Even with music, previously you’d have the record label pay for the studio costs, etc. What’s happening these days is that artists are generally getting paid less after deductions. Not before. That’s the unfair part.

robjan18 days ago

In the past long tail musicians got nothing, now they get a handful of shrapnel from Spotify plays.

+1
hnlmorg17 days ago
jwells8918 days ago

In the past 15 years, what’s kept me from keeping a collection of CDs and blurays is the space they take up. It’s nothing compared to say vinyl records or VHS tapes, but it’s still substantial if you have more than just a handful and makes moving that much more of a pain.

Now that I own a house I have a few favorite CDs that get frequent listening, but still no blurays, mainly because there’s not much I rewatch often enough for owning them to make sense. If I went out and bought everything I could justify right now I might have maybe 5-10 tops.

It’d be cool if a physical medium that’s sized similarly to regular SD cards caught on. You could keep a decent number of albums or movies in a case the same size as a bluray/DVD case, or a full-on library in something similar to an early 2000s portable CD flip case.

throwawat84i5218 days ago

Sadly, I still need to buy occasional physical media.

For some reason, none of the streaming services has recent seasons of Doctor Who in my European country. I have to buy Blu-rays from Amazon long after the shows were streamed in the UK.

I just don't understand how the system can be so shitty for consumers. The cost of streaming an additional show is minimal, so there must be some business decisions to not buy/sell the show to all markets. Instead I see lots of "filler" shows that I'm sure will not get the same audience

Is BBC too greedy, or is the purchase process broken?

hnlmorg18 days ago

Distribution rights for content can get pretty complicated. Unnecessarily complicated.

There are so many examples of this, like how impossible it is to watch some UK football (soccer) matches online if you live within the UK. If you live outside the UK, then it’s very easy.

In the case of those sports matches, it’s because clubs don’t want to risk seeing a drop in ticket sales at the stadium.

What might happen with Doctor Who in your country is that someone ones the rights to the original series but someone else owns the rights to the new modern era.

DeathArrow18 days ago

>It’d be cool if a physical medium that’s sized similarly to regular SD cards caught on.

What's wrong with SD cards?

camtarn18 days ago

They have a limited lifetime. It's a fairly long limited lifetime, sure, but unless you're reading and rewriting the data on the cards regularly, you can't rely on them to all still be intact a decade down the line.

Which is a shame, because I kinda love the idea of my music collection being stored in a little cube that unfolds to reveal a hundred or so micro SD cards.

+1
bombcar18 days ago
+1
flyinghamster18 days ago
ballooney18 days ago

Agreed! For anyone else who, like me, didnt really pay attention to SD cards for a few years, it’s quite amazing how cheap they are for their capacity now. 256GB from reputable people like sandisk for low tens of dollars. Used one as a good travel backup drive on a recent work trip.

01HNNWZ0MV43FF18 days ago

SD cards would be nice. Opus at 128 kbps is perfectly listenable (transparent for me) and 9 times smaller than PCM audio, so if you only need PC compatibility, you can burn data disks full of Opus.

ikari_pl18 days ago

there was also writable media. so...

how about one blu-ray of MP3s?

jwells8918 days ago

Would technically work, but if I’m keeping physical media around I’d want archival quality (original CD audio or at least FLAC). A Blu-ray would fit a lot of FLACs too though, if not nearly as many as it could MP3s.

aidenn018 days ago

Imation had their own super-floppy drive that I liked better than Zip drives; it never caught on though. They could also do neat tricks like writing up to 32MB to a standard 3.5" floppy.

mark_undoio18 days ago

I was excited about the LS-120 but I never quite convinced myself to stump up the money to pay for it.

My recollection was that it was: - Slightly larger than the contemporary Zip disks. - Cheaper than a Zip drive. - Could just replace your existing floppy drive, since it was backwards-compatible.

I don't know if it was as fast or robust as a Zip disk - it definitely didn't have the same mind share, though.

aidenn018 days ago

Robustness was "fine"; anything was more robust than a lot of the cheap floppies that were around in the mid-to-late 90s (though Zip drives manufactured around 2000 had a reputation for failing more often).

devilbunny17 days ago

I wish that MiniDisc Data had been more widespread and faster - great size and amazing robustness. Unfortunately, AFAICT they topped out at 600 kB/s speed.

yjftsjthsd-h18 days ago

Really? On a regular disk? I thought the upper limit was ~2.7M

ssl-318 days ago

Yes, their LS-120 drives could store ~120MB on a special disk, or allegedly 32MB on a regular 3.5" high-density disk[1]. It used SMR recording just like the modern spinny-rust hard drives of late that none of us particularly like to accomplish the latter trick.

(I owned an ATAPI variant of this drive for time, but I sadly only ever used it for reading and writing normal disks of normal formatting.)

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SuperDisk

+1
mgk12318 days ago
phendrenad218 days ago

Ah SuperDisk, I only know about it because there was a drive for the PowerBook G3.

MikusR18 days ago

>most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world

In the last 50 years world population has doubled. But creator count has increased by orders of magnitude.

mauvehaus18 days ago

Creator count probably hasn't gone up per capita. It's just that that one band I liked from my high school can put all their music on SoundCloud, have an Instagram page and a TikTok and be discoverable to people worldwide instead of selling cds they burned and applied inkjet labels to and selling them to other kids at the same school.

I suspect it's more a matter of everyone being more visible, a helping of Dunning-Kruger, and a dusting of narcissism to choose to be visible to everyone because everyone cares.

maxglute17 days ago

MiniDiscs for peak portable storage aesthetic. I'm still holding out hope that maybe someday we'll go back to visible mini platters on portable devices.

ecliptik17 days ago

Not only am I holding out too, but I'm just swerving hard back to physical media for music and buying new MDs while Sony is still selling them.

Be the future you want to see.

flyinghamster18 days ago

Also along that line, as a competitor, were the Syquest Sparq and SyJet cartridge hard drives. Syquest was eventual acquired by... Iomega.

For a while, I used a SyJet on a SCSI controller as a secondary hard drive for dual booting. Back in that era, I had to patch the Linux kernel to add my Adaptec SCSI card's ID to the list of PCI IDs it recognized, but the driver worked fine once that was done, and the official sources soon caught up.

It worked well, but I rapidly outgrew it, and the cartridges were expensive and hard to find.

gosub10018 days ago

Creators hardly got paid anything back in the CD era either! Especially new bands that had no experience with the sharks at the record company.

I remember back in the 90s one of the radio countdown shows did a bit on Madonna. They said because she was her own producer, director, manager, etc she cut out all the middlemen and thus earned a much larger share of each album sale.

pantulis18 days ago

> Now we are in 2024 and what actually happened is no one owns their movie or music libraries anymore...

This is a proper definition of disruption.

throw1092017 days ago

> Now we are in 2024 and what actually happened is no one owns their movie or music libraries anymore... they are all streamed from some remote CDN somewhere, and most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world.

This comment breaks the HN guidelines[1], which state:

> Eschew flamebait. Avoid generic tangents. Omit internet tropes.

Going off from a story about floppy disk production into the unrelated topics content ownership and creator pay is the very definition of a generic tangent, flamebait, and an internet trope. Please don't degrade the quality of HN.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

gloosx18 days ago

Dunno, "no one" is a bit exaggerated, vinyl records market is growing every year. Of course, due to really cheap and bulky storage devices available today people all around are collecting movies and music , maintaining their collections in meticulous order. I mean, it is obvious not everyone will accept not owning their movies or music, loosing all access to it the moment they stop to pay in exchange for questionable amount of convenience, so the streaming services are of no interest to them. In fact, some people even see that as caring and giving attention to what they watch or listen.

M95D17 days ago

And the thumbsticks got almost as bad as the last of the floppies. Single-use throw-away chinese crap.

I remember a very old XT computer with no HDD that was still booting from the original floopy in ~2001, used daily to play Pentix, until someone (me) connected it by mistake to 220V instead of it's 110V transformer.

ReptileMan18 days ago

>Now we are in 2024 and what actually happened is no one owns their movie or music libraries anymore... they are all streamed from some remote CDN somewhere, and most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world.

I torrent and spinning rust is cheap. So I do have media collection.

LightBug118 days ago

I remember being hyped running my first game on a 3.5inch disc on an Atari STE.

I was like, I've arrived. This is the f'ing future!

Even hearing "Iomeda Zip Drive" brings back incredible nostalgia!

sebastianavina18 days ago

you can download any music you want on youtube as mp3s. store them on a usb drive and plug it on your car, or store it in your computer and store a huge music library... but why bother yourself doing that if you can stream directly on any platform...

autoexec18 days ago

Because when you have your own copy of something nobody is keeping track of what the date and time is when you watch/listen to that media along with how often you do it or what parts you view/hear more often or pause at most often, or where you are and what other things you are doing when you saw/heard it etc. You can enjoy your media entirely offline which is something you'll really want if you find yourself without internet access for some reason. In addition, you don't have to worry about that content suddenly going away without notice, or it being censored or modified at some later date. You also get the ability to play that media in your software of choice and can even re-encode the media to play on other devices using other formats. You can make your own edits. You can share your collection with others without forcing them to create an account and hand money/data to a third party. You can include things in your own collection that those third party streaming services might not approve of.

When you give up on owning things you give up a lot more than just the item you would have had sitting on a shelf or the file that would have taken up space on your hard drive. There are lots of freedoms and opportunities you gain that wouldn't be possible otherwise.

derwiki18 days ago

Because it might go away? My Youtube saved lists are littered with removed videos.

And I _do_ use a USB flash drive in my car of curated* music; it’s an always available radio station without and phone fiddling.

*curated= just Grateful Dead recordings

defrost18 days ago

Your experience may vary, in my experience:

* things I've liked don't always stay on youtube or appear on spotify, and

* streaming|internet isn't always available (remote area FiFo, underground, etc.)

shiroiushi17 days ago

1. I don't have to pay a monthly fee

1a. I don't have to listen to annoying and offensive ads

2. I don't have to worry about something disappearing

3. I can listen to the version I want (remaster vs. original)

4. I can listen to music in the codec of my choice: <320kbps MP3 sounds bad, and some people prefer FLAC, for instance

5. I don't need an expensive cellular plan to handle all that bandwidth

6. I can listen to my music on airplanes

It's amazing this stuff is so hard to understand for people these days.

ponector18 days ago

Not everything can be streamed. Streaming platform are applying censorship. Not everyone is signing in to provide their music to streaming. Also they usually stream not original tracks, but a remaster.

01HNNWZ0MV43FF18 days ago

m4a*. Or Opus.

Dalewyn18 days ago

>why bother

You don't need an internet connection and don't have to worry about data caps or terrible jetliner satellite internet right then and there?

shiroiushi17 days ago

Yeah, things took a wrong turn somewhere, with people not valuing local storage and local control of data and just continually downloading the same thing over and over from some cloud provider, for a monthly fee.

It made sense with Netflix, because most people don't re-watch movies often: they usually watch it once and never again, or if it's a favorite, maybe a handful of times. Plus, you normally watch movies at home, where you have a fast and cap-free wired data connection. With music, it just doesn't make sense to me, because I don't want to listen to whatever crap someone wants to shovel to me, and I like hearing the same songs over and over (you can never get tired of Led Zeppelin IV), plus I frequently listen to music while away from home, but somehow people have been suckered into paying for 1) a monthly fee to listen to the music they already know they like, and 2) another big monthly fee for a cellular data plan that allows this wastefulness of mobile bandwidth.

Add to this the proliferation of SaaS, with people now running software from their web browser, and interacting with their data while it's on some remote server, instead of all local on their PC. Now, you can't do almost anything on a computer if you don't have an always-on internet connection.

Kluggy18 days ago

some of us hold onto the past. I still have a Zip disk and drive (and a bunch of old media, all the way back to a 8 inch floppy) and I have a fairly large collection of 4k blurays

inhumantsar18 days ago

I am listening to some of my minidiscs at this very moment

Zardoz8418 days ago

I have vinyls

OJFord18 days ago

Real Programmers gyrate the needle by hand

holoduke18 days ago

In the old world there were hardly any digital content creators. Nowadays you have more millionaires on Youtube than total content creators back in the days.

1letterunixname18 days ago

In high school, we had a virtual stock portfolio competition. At the time, I was an assistant manager (making minimum wage because I was a depressed kid who looked about 12) at a nationwide small store software (and hardware) store. Zip drives were flying off the shelves, so naturally I checked the company's P&L, SEC statements, and stock data. So I assigned 88% of my stock in IOMG because I could tell it was severely undervalued by market cap compared to projected current sales and frontline buzz. I laid waste to that econ-history class of BMW-driving rich kids and all of their "not cheating" help from their dads. As a bit of bittersweet irony, my teacher's investment club lost on IOMG because they got in late and sold early, just 2 months previously. If they had just been patient enough to wait for that 2 week window where the market appreciated excellent sales, they would've realized significant gains rather than losses.

PS: Yeah, I had a SCSI Zip drive. It was an improvement over floppies that were notoriously unreliable and not very durable even in 3.5" form. 3.5" floppies were traded at school, but you'd never loan original media. In general, the first thing you'd do with pristine media of real product without copy protection was make a backup copy or 2 of it. Some programs would burn serial numbers into floppy media on first installation irreversibly, and sometimes (okay, often) original media would go bad.

shiroiushi17 days ago

>It was an improvement over floppies that were notoriously unreliable and not very durable even in 3.5" form

Sorry, but this is BS. Floppies were supremely reliable, really to an amazing degree. That is, until sometime in the mid-1990s or later: at that point, the drives became cheaper and crappier, and the media quality went straight down the toilet. It was pretty sudden as I remember, and basically coincided with people moving to CD-Rs because floppies were no longer large enough for daily use.

Ask your older friends or relatives if they had a lot of trouble with floppies back in the Apple ][ era, when that was the only disk drive on a computer and people routinely booted their computer with the same boot disk every day; floppies were quite reliable in those days.

bena18 days ago

I thought the next thing after CD/DVD would have been essentially thumbsticks. Or something more akin to Switch cartridges. Data access is data access, it seemed we could get more data in less space by moving to basically SSDs.

But yeah, on demand(ish), always available(ish) content kind of changed the game.

froddd18 days ago

Do you own a USB-C thumb drive?

Me neither :-/

bombcar18 days ago

I have a thumb drive with usb a on one side and c on the other.

Insanely surprising how useful it is even at places with more networking than the NSA.

akaij18 days ago

I bought a Transcend ESD310C specifically because of this. Really performant, too!

mock-possum17 days ago

Y-yeah streaming sure has killed ownership of media…

* glances nervously at the Ethernet leading into the NAS in the closet, overflowing with music and videos and books and games

xarope18 days ago

ah yes, Iomega zip drives, back in the days when you could stores 10's of 1000s of files and images in 100mb.

Nowadays, that would be like, what, 10 smartphone camera pictures?

whycome18 days ago

> At least we still have thumbsticks...

Except for the drift issues!!

/s

But even gaming has gone to the model you describe. There’s no more “holding” of something.

unsupp0rted18 days ago

> most content creators get paid a pittance compared to what they did in the old world

My local 1-hour photo lab clerk has been struggling as well

0x000000018 days ago

> If you ask the average person what the company 3M does, odds are if they have a few gray hairs hanging out on their scalp, they might say that the company makes floppy disks.

That's crazy, I wouldn't think anyone would first and foremost associate 3M with floppies instead of adhesives, even those with a few grays like myself.

They make post-its for chrissake, and we're gonna pretend they're most known for floppies?

jll2918 days ago

> They make post-its for chrissake

Wikipedia to the rescue:

"3M Company (originally the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) is an American multinational conglomerate operating in the fields of industry, worker safety, healthcare, and consumer goods. The company produces over 60,000 products under several brands, including adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, personal protective equipment, window films, paint protection films, dental and orthodontic products, electrical and electronic connecting and insulating materials, medical products, car-care products electronic circuits, healthcare software, and optical films. It is based in Maplewood, a suburb of Saint Paul, Minnesota."

Although recently not doing so well due to one lawsuit, they have a wonderful rule that nudges management to add new products to its portfolio sooner and more aggresively than other companies, so I associate them with innovation.

The now-famous "Post-It notes" were such a disruptive new innovation, made from scrap paper that was left over when cutting larger pages: literally rubbish/garbage turned into a new revenue stream.

redblacktree17 days ago

> Although recently not doing so well due to one lawsuit, they have a wonderful rule that nudges management to add new products to its portfolio sooner and more aggresively than other companies, so I associate them with innovation.

What rule is that?

esafak18 days ago

I have no idea why they shoehorned 3M into the article. Floppies rose and fell independently of 3M.

OJFord18 days ago

If I picture a floppy it definitely has a 3M logo either on the paper label or stamped into the plastic.

But I'm with the sibling commenter to you who says 'adhesive tape' as the first thing '3M' brings to mind. People talk about '3M-backed X' to mean basically 'self-adhesive X' (and maybe express a preference for adhesive brand, but it's common enough the knock-offs use it as an SEO keyword too).

skissane17 days ago

> If I picture a floppy it definitely has a 3M logo either on the paper label or stamped into the plastic.

I do remember seeing 3M floppies, but in my memory Verbatim were more common. And, in the 5.25 inch era, Nashua

creatonez17 days ago

3M is only interesting in retrospect. They were one of the first manufacturers to get out of the floppy business, but they also had some of the highest quality disks. So as soon as floppies started dying, the durability and quality fell off a cliff. But if you come across a 3M disk in the modern era (floppies are still used by textile equipment), it might actually store your data without breaking.

hypercube3317 days ago

Actually I think they spun off their media business to imation who kept making CDs and floppies

creatonez15 days ago

The article points out how Imation was eventually bought out just for the trademark, so it sounds like they gave up on the manufacturing / material science and just became like any other floppy disk.

skissane17 days ago

> They make post-its for chrissake, and we're gonna pretend they're most known for floppies?

How many people actually remember that post-its is a 3M product? Maybe buried deep in my memory, but not at the top of it

If you’d asked me to name a 3M product, the first thing that would pop into my head is Fluorinert-range of electrically inert cooling chemicals, used to cool electronics, e.g. in the 1980s Cray 2 supercomputer: stuff many overclockers daydream about but very few ever use (primarily due to how extremely expensive it is, although environmental and safety issues are also a factor). Never seen the stuff in person, but the idea of it is cool

tristor18 days ago

I mostly associate 3M with film products, because that's what they're most known for in the car world. If you want high-quality paint protection film or tint film at a commercial scale, it's usually from 3M (although they have some competitors like Xpel). When I think about adhesives, I think about Permatex, but I didn't realize Scotch and Duck tape were 3M products, so I have probably used way more 3M adhesives than I realized.

When I think about floppy disks, especially 3.5" floppy disks, I mostly think of Sony and Toshiba. Both made floppy disks, but Sony invented them, Toshiba was the first to put a 3.5" floppy disk drive in a laptop, and Sony made one of the first consumer digital cameras which stored photos on a floppy disk (Sony Mavica). I don't even remotely think of 3M. I would associate the brand name "Fellows" more with floppies than 3M, because they were the company that made the 50 and 100 floppy storage trays you could buy at any office store. When I moved in 2022, I threw out nearly 600 floppy disks I still had in a closet for some reason, including a copy of the Windows 3.11 installer set.

nine_k18 days ago

I used a ton of floppies since mid-1980s and until early 2000s. The names I actively associate with floppies in my visual memory are BASF, TDK, Maxell, and Sony. I did have the occasional 3M floppy, but these were somehow rare.

OTOH 3M easily evokes images of all things adhesive.

LeoPanthera18 days ago

I would have said adhesive tape. And then maybe magnetic tape.

Followed shortly by "industrial chemicals".

ijijijjij18 days ago

I associate 3M with the production of chemicals

saurik18 days ago

I feel like in recent years people--not just relevant trade professionals but a ton of normal people--have also come to recognize them for making protective gear including, very specifically, N95 masks.

_carbyau_18 days ago

Nerdy but - last Xmas 3M got hundreds of dollars of my family money.

I got speed tape, ruby tape, silicone fiberglass hi-low temp tape. I don't really need them, I admire the engineering and I'm kinda afraid to use these tapes given how much they cost.

But yeah, the 3M brand = adhesives in my household.

mensetmanusman17 days ago
_carbyau_16 days ago

Oh! Who doesn't want to answer:

"Duct tape, sure... I got nuclear duct tape in the drawer over there."

3M getting more of my money for my next birthday I guess.

dhosek18 days ago

Man seeing some of those disk manufacturers names brings me back to when I used to order bulk purchases of 5.25" floppies from a catalog and sell them at a profit out of my high school locker. And then of course, there was the trick of using a hole punch to add a second write-enable hole to the left side of the disk so you could flip it over and use the back for an extra 140K of storage.

ikari_pl18 days ago

I've been thinking for a few months about a similar write-up about Maxell - I own their cassette tapes, 5.25", 3.5" and 3" floppies, CDs, DVDs, and blu-rays. What a company!

bbarnett18 days ago

Stuff like this makes me think, but with a different view looking back than when I lived through it.

For example, the hole punch thing. 10 year old me would have never pondered this, but... was there someone at Stedmans' HQ, wondering why there was an 18% uptick in hole-punch sales? Some old, crusty and cantankerous beatnik squirreled away, staring at sales charts and projections, perplexed as to why?

How many households had no hole-punch, but did once the floppy appeared in home?

oarsinsync18 days ago

A lot of houses used paper records and folders to store them in. The folders would often use ring binds that required the papers to be hole punched.

bbarnett18 days ago

Sure, agree completely, although I wonder why you believe I may not know that? Yet lots of houses bought pre-punched paper, or just didn't use ring binders.

The 18% is just a throw out number, and the concept is a joke, yet... I'm sure there was some increase in hole punch purchases.

Because...

I bought one as a kid, after getting tired of cutting a ragged hole with scissors.

dhosek18 days ago

The only pre-punched paper we had when I was a kid was the notebook paper that was a required purchase on the school supply list. I remember using that as a template for punching holes in paper with a hole punch (since the fancy three-hole punch was something that only existed in the admin wing of our high school).

TMWNN18 days ago

>when I used to order bulk purchases of 5.25" floppies from a catalog

Imsai!

dhosek18 days ago

That’s the one! Thanks for coming up with the name.

fdr18 days ago

> If you ask the average person what the company 3M does, odds are if they have a few gray hairs hanging out on their scalp, they might say that the company makes floppy disks.

I think that's an interesting perception of the public. I think of 3M making all sorts of things, generally, I admire the company...in spite of some rather grotesque blunders and bad behavior. But the first thing that comes to mind is adhesive tape (also mentioned in the article)

steve_adams_8618 days ago

I immediately think of their products I use on a regular basis. There are so many.

  - micropore tape for mycelium and tissue cultures
  - reusable respirators and cartridges
  - net sanding disks
  - double sided tape for so many things
  - foam ear plugs and earmuffs
  - scouring pads for shop/kitchen/aquarium
  - HEPA air filters for work and home
  - command strips for all kinds of hanging and affixing needs
  - adhesive spray, mostly for wood working or working with templates 
  - stripping pads
The list goes on. There are alternatives from other brands, but a few of these are hard to compromise on and 3M does an incredible job. Their cubitron mesh/net sanding discs for example. I also like their respirator equipment too much to switch out another brand. Then finally it might seem insignificant but their double sided tapes are really good. When you find a bad one you never forget it, and similarly, you remember the good ones. 3M has been my favourite so far.
mensetmanusman17 days ago

The double sided tape that unreels from a dispenser with no liner still baffles me, and I have a PhD in materials science.

renegade-otter18 days ago

Totally. My house walls are plastered with M3 Velcro tape that holds everything from hooks to artwork. Really, a marvel of chemical engineering. Those hold quite a load and then you pull down the strip and the adhesive comes off the wall like nothing was ever there.

hackernewds18 days ago

That has almost never been true for me. Every time I take something off paint chips

adrianN18 days ago

Clearly you need some 3M paint on your walls.

dhosek18 days ago

They bought a former employer of mine which was responsible for a universal file opening program (most famously incorporated into Lotus Notes). When I started there, they were Intranet Solutions, and then became Innosoft and Stellant before becoming a division of 3M.

fomine317 days ago

I suspect that Chinese also trusts 3M brand because random AliExpress products tend to have "3M" branded adhesive seal (perhaps fake).

mensetmanusman17 days ago

An area of huge counterfeit is companies purchasing low cost legit adhesive with a 3M logo on the liner, and then coating a different adhesive on it that looks like it would work but doesn't and selling for profit.

shmeeed17 days ago

Is that really a thing? I always imagined they would just counterfeit the liner too.

mensetmanusman13 days ago

The liners can e quite complex with built in anti-counterfeiting technology.

CharlesW18 days ago

This article implies multiple times that 3M invented the floppy disk. They did not.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_floppy_disk

https://web.archive.org/web/20161222064003/http://www-03.ibm...

charrondev18 days ago

Did you read the article? This is a few pages in:

> Now, to be clear, 3M did not invent magnetic storage—that was done by Austro-German engineer Fritz Pfleumer, in 1928. He created audio tape, a recording medium that started as broad strips of paper coated with iron-powder granules, and eventually moved to less-fragile cellulose acetate with help from what would become another big name in floppy disks, BASF. At first, the innovation didn’t spread outside of Germany because of World War II.

CharlesW18 days ago

My friend, I didn't say "magnetic storage".

The title says "3M's Floppy Disk", which implies that 3M created the floppy disk.

The subtitle calls 3M, "the high-profile creator of magnetic media", only later making it clear that this is also incorrect.

This also implies that 3M invented the floppy: "…3M started with the raw materials and the manufacturing processes, and combined those into computing’s greatest commodity item, the floppy disk."

Finally, the article notes that the only medium that 3M did have a hand in creating, the Floptical disk, flopped.

Assuming that the author even realizes that they're being ambiguous, I would've preferred that they didn't misrepresent 3M's role.

robbiep18 days ago

Not op but

> The title says "3M's Floppy Disk", which implies that 3M created the floppy disk

If I put up a blog post about Robbiep’s spaghetti bolognaise, or Robbiep’s quadcopter, I don’t think anyone would misinterpret me as having invented those things. It’s an apostrophe of ownership, not an apostrophe of authourship.

Despite what it says elsewhere in the article

russellpekala18 days ago

I heard that this business unit turned into 3Ms healthcare data analytics business partially because healthcare customers kept buying floppy disks after everyone else stopped. https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/health-information-systems-us/dr...

rob7418 days ago

> But you might be wondering, how did 3M make the leap from reel-to-reel tape to floppies? It feels like just as strange a leap as a masking tape company developing reel-to-reel audio tape.

Er... no, it doesn't? If you have experience with one kind of magnetic media, it sounds pretty reasonable that you could leverage that experience to make other kinds of magnetic media too. Actually, "fellow thick-Helvetica enthusiast" BASF did exactly the same: they were very big players in the reel-to-reel tape market too. And, while 3M spun out its magnetic media business as Imation, BASF did the same with EMTEC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMTEC)

juitpykyk18 days ago

Article says 3M exited floppies because it was retail oriented very low margin business.

But how is Scotch Tape not that too?

Ekaros18 days ago

Scale and complexity. Floppies were dying. And it might be that so was some equipment for making them. Tape is steady state demand with likely small but clear margin and demand also in future. So quite different future and production scenario.

returnzero18 days ago

I imagine the difference is that Scotch tape is much better aligned with the R&D that goes into their other products in the adhesives and films categories compared to magnetic tape. If they didn't intend to go further into developing products in the computing space then selling it while it still had value was probably a wise call.

system218 days ago

Shipping businesses grew and still growing. I think they are making so much money from it despite its margin.

throwaway7127118 days ago

I bought a usb floppy drive, and some old 1.44 floppies, and I thought its just nostalgia, but tbh its just super cool.

I think with esp32s3 and floppies we can make some cool computer kits :) there are also 5" spi displays 800x480 that are pretty fast

There is also a floppy disk music demoscene, and of course the retro computing scene, but I think 'constrained' programming is one of the best ways to learn and it is underused in pedagogy and androgogy. The floppy disk will raise again.

PS: I am working on adding UFI support, it is using CBI to the esp32 mass storage which support only BOT, but its going quite slowly because I am trying to use cheap 4$ logic analyzer to debug and its losing samples :(

bArray18 days ago

> I think with esp32s3 and floppies we can make some cool computer kits :) there are also 5" spi displays 800x480 that are pretty fast

Not sure there is much interest from younger people these days outside of a small niche. Checkout any kind of OS/computer architecture classes on a University campus.

Could be super cool to build a 'mobile phone' that runs on floppy disks.

> PS: I am working on adding UFI support, it is using CBI to the esp32 mass storage which support only BOT, but its going quite slowly because I am trying to use cheap 4$ logic analyzer to debug and its losing samples :(

Have you documented this somewhere?

throwaway7127118 days ago

> Could be super cool to build a 'mobile phone' that runs on floppy disks.

that would be beyond cool!

> Have you documented this somewhere?

not yet, sending the proper commands the endpoints always go stale so I am trying to debug the usb packets send from my pc vs the esp32, but usbpcap is not enough because the thing I send is the same (as far as I can see) as linux/windows, so I am trying to debug it on the wire

xyst18 days ago

3M is a company that does not deserve any praise. The handling of contaminated water supplies with PFAS has forever ruined many lives.

xbar18 days ago

I am sorry to see you being downvoted.

I feel completely betrayed by 3M. All of the fondness I had for the brand from floppy disks to early post-it notes, painter's tape, and scotch taping gifts with my mom.... all of them are tained with the horror of 3M's complete disregard for everything and everyone for all time.

mensetmanusman17 days ago

There were definitely a few bad apples, but much of the blame extends to the military. Events like this were probably inevitable for those that are students of the history of technology development.

jhallenworld18 days ago

Albums released on floppy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRm2_Uy_7bk

Sony invented the 3.5" floppy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djsyVgTGaRk

I recently went through my large box of old 3.5" disks and discovered that most of them are failing. The older 5 1/4" disks seem better, maybe because the density is lower.

neglesaks18 days ago

Back in those days, getting your hands on a foil-wrapped 10-pack of 3M (DS) HD floppy disks was the true feeling of happiness... :D

Heck, even five would be pretty nice.

fsiefken18 days ago

o wow, i totally forgot about the feeling, yes that was nice.

franze18 days ago

just saying, the buggy sticky/fading/back-again header implementation makes this really hard to read.

please make it sticky or even better just don't.

autoexec18 days ago

images don't load with JS disabled, but the text is clear and there's no annoying header to worry about.

mayormcmatt18 days ago

The folks at CD Projekt Red certainly haven't forgotten about them for their "very special" edition of CP 2077: https://www.cyberpunk.net/en/news/50098/introducing-a-limite...

reporterexchang18 days ago

Search by floppy disk over time. Google trends.

About as expected...

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?hl=en-US&tz=420&dat...

_carbyau_18 days ago

What is the spike in November 2020 about?

Is there a way to "see what they saw"? Maybe the results of then could tell me why people cared about a 20 year old media format.

martinpw18 days ago

Quick search shows that there was was quest in Call of Duty that involved decrypting a floppy disk, and there is a walkthrough here from ... November 2020

https://www.ign.com/wikis/call-of-duty-black-ops-cold-war/Ho...

nodesocket18 days ago

And the rise and fall of Iomega 100mb zip drives. As a kid in high school I coveted those so dearly.

KerrAvon17 days ago

What a strange article. The premise seems to be that 3M floppies were better formulated than others, but the author never actually discusses their quality directly, or anything close.

3M floppies were pretty rare in my experience.

ChrisArchitect18 days ago

(2023)

Discussion on the original Tedium post then: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=38534227

zzbn0017 days ago

12 bits/word

60 words/minute

60 minutes/hour

8 hours/day

5 days/week

4 weeks/month

=> 7 Megabits => 864kBytes . Fits onto a floppy.

What we could express as words, we could fit onto floppies.

szundi18 days ago

At the late stage Sony floppies were better quality and they had better data retention. No bad sectors ever.

classichasclass18 days ago

I was always a Memorex connoisseur myself in the 5.25" era, with the classic brown ruled sleeves.

jaclaz18 days ago

The best (IMHO) ode/obituary for floppy disks:

A:las poor floppy, I knew you well.

jsz018 days ago

I'm not sure I ever actually bought a box of blank floppy disks. Instead I would call up software companies and ask for free demos instead. I did it so often the postal service warned may parents they would stop delivering mail to the house.