Hiawatha Bray, columnist for The Boston Globe , recently noted the passing of the floppy drive. The editorial is entitled Once crucial to PCs, floppy drive now a waste of space.
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Bray, who frequently discusses Mac matters in the Globe, acknowledged Steve Jobs and Apple’s contribution to the demise of the floppy disk. The company discontinued the medium in its new computer designs with the introduction of the iMac in 1998, “much to the derision of this columnist, among others,” Bray admitted.
Bray criticized Apple’s slow uptake on the now ubiquitous CD-RW market, however, calling Apple’s decision to stick with read-only optical drives a bit too long “one of the few major blunders Apple’s made in recent years.”
Bray noted that floppy sales were off more than 25 percent last year. Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system even ships with its own rescue CD-ROM, forgoing a long policy of depending of floppy boot disks in order to recover corrupt hard drives. It’s a quagmire for certain older PCs that can’t boot off CD-ROM drives, according to Bray, who said that Microsoft has rescue instructions for those older PCs on its Web site. “All of [Microsoft’s] future operating systems will require CD-ROM booting capability,” said Bray.
Alternative storage systems are become cheaper and more useable, said Bray, who also noted Apple’s iPod digital music player, which can alternately be used as a 5GB FireWire hard disk.
Bray explained the floppy’s place in the home computer revolution as faster, less complicated, and more reliable than the cassette tape drive it replaced.
“But the masses are notoriously ungrateful. What have our floppy drives done for us lately? Not much – and soon, even less,” said Bray, who envisions a PC world that will soon be released from the shackles of floppy drive use once and for all — like their forward-stepping Mac brethren have been for the better part of the past half decade.