Production, distribution, supply and demand data aside, a bit of a joke that illustrates well what the drift of the floppy disk has been – ancient floppy disk— Over the past few decades: “A three-year-old girl comes up to her dad with one hand and says, ‘Daddy, someone printed the Save icon in 3D.'” The joke was told this summer by businessman Tom Persky. told during an interview look at the design And it may be more or less funny to you, but it certainly illustrates well how a format that shone in the 70s and 80s has diminished. a simple icon,
What’s more, unless you’re in your 40s or thirties, it’s likely you’ve never used a 3.5-inch floppy drive. Perhaps you do not even know what it is and what it is for, or you have never seen a floppy drive in your life.
persky knows what he’s talking about because even in that scenario he remains right for floppy, And not on an abstract or nostalgic level like a lover of old technology. No. It is in an extremely practical sense that it has led them to declare themselves as “the last man standing in the floppy disk business”. There is no dearth of certificates. Persky is the founder of Floppydisk, an American company dedicated to selling and recycling these devices still in 2022.
“The Last of the Philippines”, 3.5-inch version
If there are “the last of the Philippines” of the 3.5 format, Persky is one of them. And it will probably continue to be so for a long time to come because – contrary to what it might seem – his business is doing well and the businessman himself calculates that he has many years of reels left to shoot.
To understand what FloppyDisk.com is, how it continues to generate income or maintain a solvent stock of floppy disks at the gate of 2023, Persky needs to know what he already has. His origins certainly don’t belong to a typical tech entrepreneur. The 72-year-old manager began his career as a tax attorney in Washington and made the jump to the world of law and taxation a few decades ago, in the early 90s. software development for your comrades.
“I had no experience in that field, but I had experience in taxation. The idea was to use my tax knowledge to work with programmers and develop better software for tax professionals.” The experiment worked, and the company developed a few applications that it devoted itself to distributing—remember, this is the 1990s—via 5.25-inch or 3.5-inch floppy disks. To facilitate this distribution task, Persky and his colleagues opted to acquire their own equipment to replicate floppy disks without having to rely on third-party companies.
This was the first step towards what is now Floppydisks.com. Persky realized that the duplicating machines were down for weeks at a time, so he decided to make some extra money by offering his services to other companies. “Before I knew it, I had a software duplication company working with a software company,” he noted. Therein lay the seed of his current business, which over the years has become less about repetition and more about sale of blank floppy diskswhich now represents most of its billing.
Floppy Disk Fever’s the New Book @onomatopenenet Edited by Explores the Afterlife of the Floppy Disk in the 21st C @Walkaar , #NiekHilkmann Of @FloppyTotal, Our republished excerpt is a conversation with the last man standing in Floppy Biz >> https://t.co/m1m3REw1q7 pic.twitter.com/973qnZaHh4
— AIGA Eye On Design (@AIGAeyeondesign) September 16, 2022
However, times have changed, and the once popular floppy disk or even more modern formats such as the CD have lost their weight. Did Persky see it coming? Yes, only their strategy was to protest. True, the market may have shrunk, but so was the competition.
“Over time, the total number of floppy disk users decreased. However, the number of people supplying the product decreased even more rapidly. If we look at both curves, we see that the last person standing in the business growing market share. And that man is me”, he explains. In addition, it decided to add an equipment recycling service to its offer, which today generates a flow of approx. thousand floppy disks a day,
The first big unknown in your business is: How do you manage the stock of floppy disks at the door of 2023? Through various avenues, Persky confesses. Seeing the coming scenario, ten or twelve years ago the businessman decided to fill his warehouse well and buy a few million units, which allowed him to maintain an inventory that still today includes a wide range of models. : 3 , 5 and 8 inches or even “fairly rare” formats.
The stock is complete with units that come from individuals or companies who one day discover a box of diskettes in their attic or warehouse and want to get rid of them. “Through my page they realize I still buy from them and they contact me. There’s a steady flow. I hope to be in this business at least a few more years”, he insisted. Another significant change is the challenge of operating in a sector in which it is difficult to estimate the cost of goods.
“If you buy a container of a million floppy disks you can probably get them for eight cents, but how much are they worth today? In the last ten years they’ve gone from being worth ten cents to a dollar, and Now you can sell a double-density 720KB disc for two dollars,” he insisted: “It’s hard to run a business when you don’t know the value of your product is too high.
Other big question Is… Who buys floppy disks in mid-2022 with other more comfortable and powerful storage options? The businessmen point out that their wares are sought after by fans, artists… and companies, some of them addicted to technical environments, such as aviation or medicine. The key: The big investment he made 30 years ago.
“Imagine it’s 1990 and you’re building a large industrial machine of one type or another. You design it to last 50 years and you want to use the best technology available. At the time it was 3.5 inch floppy disk. Take aeronautics, for example. Probably half of the current world air fleet is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in some avionics systems”, says the American businessman. Another important customer is the embroidery sector, where “thousands of machines” using floppy disks are still in use.
In the company they in any case believe that over time landscape will be different And industrial machines that continue to use floppy disks will leave them behind, increasing their complexity, making it difficult for the sector to once again launch itself into manufacturing this type of technology. Until then, as long as companies have little room for floppy disks and there are people who are interested in buying them, recycling them, or even recovering the contents of old drives, one day they’ll end up at the bottom of a drawer. Persky and his team will continue to dedicate their work to them.
However for that three year old girl a floppy Now nothing more than a “Save” icon.
Cover Image: Brett Jordan (Unsplash)